Reg Mombassa and Peter O'Doherty evoke images of good times, splendid
music, Mental As Anything, Mambo Surf Wear, things Antipodean, and a warped
sense of the world.
As members of the quintessential Australian band Mental As Anything, Peter
& Reg have helped to contribute to the Mentals' record of the most top
forty hits by any band in the country's history. And as visual artists,
their works have been acquired by galleries around the world, and, most
notably, have given the Mambo line of surf clothing its distinctive look
and helped make Mambo one of the country's greatest fashion industry success
Now brothers Reg & Peter are embarking on their own musical adventure.
They've signed to Regular Records, and with Steve James and Peter co-producing,
have created a record that's going to set the listening public on its
collective ear. Drawing on their pop sensibilities, finely honed from
the years with the Mentals, and combining them with some hard rock, a
touch of Country and Western and folk and rap and rockabilly, they've
come up with an album like nothing Australia has produced previously.
Their first single as a duo, "Jean", was written by Peter and described
by Reg as "a fusion of psychedelic and Celtic rock 'n 'roll dealing with
Peter & Reg play most of the instruments on the song, with the only outsiders
involved being Steve James as co-producer, percussionist and knob twiddler;
longtime "6th Mental" Mike Gubb providing some keyboard and piano accordion
assistance; UK songstress Sam Brown contributing backing vocals; and mix
engineer Kathy Naunton.
The working title for the album is "Two Heads, One Brain".
Peter O'Doherty and Reg Mombassa are brothers. The story goes that Peter
changed his name to O'Doherty because he wanted a better stage name. However
the truth is even stranger. In the early days of Mental As Anything, the
band members had a habit of giving each other exotic names and then changing
them every couple of weeks. When the band's first single was being readied
for release the band members were asked what names they wanted to go under.
As a joke, they all agreed to use their current nicknames. That particular
week Chris O'Doherty was Reg Mombassa, Martin Murphy was Martin Plaza,
Andrew Smith was known as Greedy and David Twohill went under the name
of Wayne DeLisle. Peter was just Peter, but the week before he'd been
"Ouzo Pork" and his brother had been "Brett Orlando". So with a minor
change in timing, this new project could be by "Brett & Ouzo" instead
of Reg & Peter!
Also, Reg thought it might be selfish and cause sensory overload in the
minds of the public by forcing them to consider two same-named members
in one band.
Peter & Reg are originally from New Zealand, from Irish and Mancunian
immigrant parents. Like the best metals, they were hand-forged in the
grim smelter of the New Zealand cultural life - hot meals, cold rain,
contact sports, street violence and petty theft gave them the thorough
grounding and confidence necessary to deal with the harshly cosmopolitan
Australian lifestyle. The family came here in 1969 to get a job.
Reg enrolled at The National Art School in East Sydney, but left after
a couple of years and worked as labourer, pet ambulance driver, musician,
signwriter and cleaner. In 1975 he returned to Art School and completed
a Diploma of Painting. While still a student he formed Mental As Anything
with fellow art students Martin Murphy, Andrew Smith, & David Twohill.
Meanwhile Peter was finishing secondary school in Sydney's northern peninsula
suburb of Curl Curl and playing jazz guitar. When the newly formed Mentals
needed a bass player to fill in for a night, Peter obliged, and has been
in the band since. That first gig with the current line-up was on the
night that Elvis died.
Despite Reg & Peter's new project, Mental As Anything continues as a recording
and performing force. They are one of Australia's most successful and
best loved bands. They've toured internationally and had hits in England,
Europe and Canada, but Australia has always been their stronghold. The
songwriting of Mombassa and O'Doherty has been an integral part of the
The members of Mental As Anything have never been satisfied with just
one career. They've all contributed to other projects and they've all
kept up their art interests. There's been two Mental As Anything Group
Art Exhibitions, the most recent in 1990, and they've both been sell-outs
and have garnered rave reviews from the art critics. In 1987 the band
was commissioned by the Victorian Government Ministries of Art & Transport
to design and paint a Melbourne tram.
Reg is the best known of the Mentals for his work with the brush. He's
had many solo exhibitions and his work is in great demand. Art aficionados
from Nobel Prize winning author, Patrick White, to pop icons like Elton
John and Yahoo Serious have bought his works.
Reg has also designed innumerable t-shirts, posters, videos and record
covers for Mental As Anything and other bands. His most recent album cover
is for Public Image Limited's "Greatest Hits So Far". Johnny Lydon spied
Reg's work on Mambo clothing and sought him out to do their album cover.
Reg's talents extend to illustrations and writings for, among others,
Rolling Stone, Stiletto, RAM, Dolly, and FMG.
Ironically Peter O'Doherty was the only one of the Mentals not to go to
Art School, yet he is second only to his brother in providing a prolific
outpouring of artworks.
Peter & Reg previously joined forces with musicians from several other
prominent Australian bands to record The Stetsons album - an Australian
Country and Western classic.
However those pundits expecting this first "solo" effort to be in the
same vein as The Stetsons will be disappointed.
The new album is a collaboration between brothers who share a vision of
the world that is, to say the least, eccentric.
For example, the titles of some of Reg's paintings include: "Newly Married
Nazi Space monsters inspect a farmlet"; "The aristocracy of the normal";
and "Big Aussie football ghost inspects a ute load of dog trumpets."
Reg says he gets inspiration for his work from science, religious and
mystical books; the magnificent rural and suburban scenery of Australia
and New Zealand; and the behaviour of machinery and domestic animals.
According to Peter, this is only the first in a series of sibling CDs.
Oscillating Moniker The brothers are pleased to announce that they are the
first band in the world to have an oscillating moniker (alternately Peter
& Reg, Reg & Peter etc.). They hope this will be entered in the next Guiness
Book of Records as a genuine achievement and world first. March 20th, 1991