Reg Mombassa talks esoterics & Aussie suburbia

reg mombassa interview 2022 happymag

Chris O’Doherty, aka Reg Mombassa, is a New Zealand-born Australian musician and artist. He is known for his iconic work with Mambo, and the bands Mental as Anything, Dog Trumpet and The Pinks. 

Formed in 1991, together with his younger brother Peter, Dog Trumpet, has released eight albums to date. The latest is Shadowlands, which has given us the kind of disparate social commentary and human observation we have come to know and love them for.

Fresh off a sweet run at the pop-up Rogue Gallery in Redfern, with fellow mambo artist, Glen ‘Glenno’ Smith, saw a joint collaboration between the two tackle the big issues, not least of them, climate change. It seemed that the questions posed during the Covid-19 lockdowns became the seeds they needed to create deep and esoteric images of Aussie suburbia, embedded in mythology, modern politics, koalas driven to terrorism, and anti-mainstream humour steeped in a transmuted and tense landscape.

reg mombassa

Just as with the themes from his recent exhibition, in Shadowlands, Mombassa addresses, general human destruction, cruelty, greed, politics, misbehaviour, human failings, and of course religion. Just to give you a taste of what the album holds, the lead single from the album, Fucking Idiots, is seen from the view of an alien looking at the planet and saying, ‘what the fuck are you doing, seriously’.

Sounding a little like a grumpy old man yelling at a cloud, he confirms that his wife actually calls him a gloomy catastrophic, albeit, with a very dry and witty sense of humour.

reg mombassa

Discussing his iconic work with Mambo, and the legacy that the pairing has gifted Australian pop culture, the short version goes a little something like this: He was discovered by the founder of Mambo after a copy of his chook album cover caught the eye of Dare Jennings, which in turn became an accidental side job, and as it turned out, a great way to get his artwork to a bigger audience.

A synchronistic alignment if ever there was. Mambo is actually gearing up to rerelease some of Mombassa’s earlier classic Mambo works next year.

Radi sat down with Mombassa in his light-filled attic studio in Glebe, pre-tour mode, to talk about how the exhibition went, and the upcoming tour to promote Shadowlands.


Dog Trumpet will kick start a national tour, launching at the great club in Marrickville on the 25th of November, then head to Tasmania, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, check out tour dates here.

dog trumpet
Interview By Radi Safi