Greedy (Andrew) Smith, Mental As Anything keyboardist, songwriter and vocalist in 2003. Picture: Sarah Rhodes
Greedy (Andrew) Smith, Mental As Anything keyboardist, songwriter and vocalist in 2003. Picture: Sarah Rhodes

First look at Greedy Smith’s final interview

Like all great songwriters, Greedy Smith was a beautiful spinner of yarns.

In his final interview before his sudden death in December, the Mental as Anything star shared some beauties for Foxtel's MAX Take 5: Aussie Take Over series, which kicks off tomorrow.

Smith went for a waltz down memory lane to reveal the stories behind their acclaimed music videos, like how he was inspired by David Lynch's film Blue Velvet for the ahead-of-its-time social commentary of the 1987 single He's Just No Good For You.

Mental As Anything in 1985. (L-R) Reg Mombassa, Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Wayne De Lisle & Peter Doherty. Picture: Supplied.
Mental As Anything in 1985. (L-R) Reg Mombassa, Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Wayne De Lisle & Peter Doherty. Picture: Supplied.

The song addressed domestic violence and Smith wanted to find a typical Australian street to illustrate the suburban facade which hides the brutal blight on family life.

"It was shot in 1987 in Scarborough St, Monterey. I was just driving around and saw the street and thought of the film Blue Velvet, the great David Lynch movie and at the start of (the movie) there's a suburban street and the cars steadily going past all these houses," he said.

"The song is about domestic violence and I wanted these ordinary houses because that's where … this stuff happens.

 

 

"We asked everybody in the street if they wanted to be in the video. I was talking to a guy the other day who was in it and said 'Yeah, we all got a dollar each'.

"We did a one-shot video, started the song, walked down the street and ended up at the ice cream van.

"I nearly had a bit of a run in with the head of CBS records at the time who said 'Greedy, it'll never be a hit with that brown suit, you look like George Mallaby from Homicide when it turned colour."

Smith's interview for the Foxtel music channel kicks off with the shoot in 1979 for their first single, The Nips Are Getting Bigger.

 

 

The band had pressed just 1100 vinyl records, selling them out of the back of their car at gigs before landing a deal with Festival Records. That song now has more than five million streams on Spotify.

Limited by their minuscule budget of about $300, which was mostly spent on out-of-date film stock, they approached their label Festival Records for permission to film a performance video in their loading dock.

"It took us about three hours (to film) because we couldn't interrupt the deliveries of vinyl records to the record stores; they had to come out of the same spot where we were standing," he said.

Smith was a natural born storyteller. Picture: News Corp Australia.
Smith was a natural born storyteller. Picture: News Corp Australia.


He reveals how they got nude for a small cameo in Berserk Warriors, the song inspired by the travails of ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog, who had to continue their working relationship after the breakdown of their marriage.

 

Later in their career, the band were approached by Yahoo Serious to record the song Rock'n'Roll Music for the Young Einstein soundtrack.

Serious was not only serious about his directions for the recording but also the making of the music video.

"We were asked to record the song for the Young Einstein soundtrack for a purpose because Yahoo Serious, who stars in it, needed something to mime to. He was quite specific about what he wanted," Smith said.

"When it came to the clip, he wanted to do that too … not as part of the movie but as a dedicated music video and he brought in some of the people he worked with on the film (and) the animals he had, a herd of sheep, a cockatoo and a koala that kept climbing on to my keyboard.

"I'm a bit frightened of koalas … very sharp claws."

Rock star afraid of koalas. Picture: Christian Gilles
Rock star afraid of koalas. Picture: Christian Gilles

 

 

One of the funniest yarns about the life of the Mentals relates to filming the Egpyt clip on the famed sandhills of Kurnell in Sydney's south in 1979.

His bandmate Reg Mombassa was the star of that shoot, having written and recorded the lead vocals for it, and was costumed in full Roman Centurion gear and riding a horse on the dunes when a very important phone call came through in the middle of during the shoot.

"It was very, very early days of mobile phones - it was a big brick - they had on the set on the Kurnell sandhills and the call came in that Reg's wife Martina's having the baby," Smith said.

"At the time, Reg was wearing full Roman Centurion on a horse, and the director was 'Wait, we've got to get one last shot' … and there's a scene of him tearing off into the distance and that's him riding off to the hospital to see his newborn son Darcy."

 

Take 5: The Aussies Take Over airs on weekdays at noon on Foxtel's Max with encore screenings at 5pm and 10.30pm.


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