When deciding on his pseudonym, Chris O’Doherty wanted to strike the perfect balance. Passing through Dorky Bladder and Brett Orlando, the then teenager landed on Reg Mombassa - half truck-driver, half exotic stranger. This merging of the humdrum and fantastical epitomises Mombassa, who’s quirky vision of life has lodged in our heart Down Under.
Mombassa is an Antipodean Renaissance man. The frontman of bands Mental as Anything and Dog Trumpet, a designer for Mambo, the creative director of Sydney's 2013 New Years Eve, contributor to the 2000 Sydney Olympics and above all, a widely celebrated artist, Mombassa has been the subject of documentaries, portraits and even a book.
So what is it about Mombassa that captivates so many? Well simply, he’s fun but not dumb. Irreverent on the canvas and thoughtful in person, Mombassa takes the guts of life - be it masculinity, politics or religion - then twists, jabs and pokes it. He dreams up unthinkably bizarre monsters and plonks them in the thick of suburbia. Think backyard BBQ in a post apocalyptic dimension. This is the side of art that makes you think, giggle and reminisce all at once.
When asked about his surreal visions of the everyday, Mombassa explains it’s “the aristocracy of the normal”. He’s as proud that Patrick White and Elton John are among his fans, as he is that plummers and sailors are. And perhaps that is the Mombassa charm. Like the Antipodean attitude at large, Mombassa is deeply unpretentious - but he’s no shrinking violet either. Instead, with inspirations from roads to surrealism, his cul-de-sac mysticism is imaginative, punny, quick and distinctly ocker. Cheers to that.
With his brother and bandmate Peter O'Doherty, as part of 'Dog Trumpet'