Home Interviews STEVE BALBI (NOISEWORKS) interview


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The Summer of 2016 has been sizzling with the sounds of some of the country’s best rock acts in one huge line-up including Jimmy Barnes, The Badloves, Mark Seymour, The Angels and a  recharged Noiseworks. The band’s bass player, Steve Balbi took some time in between gigs and recording to talk to us about the tour and the many other projects he has been working on.

The Red Hot Summer Tour, he tells me, is going great guns and the shows are selling out, he says. “And it’s just been really, really great live rock. It’s a really good feel out there. The audiences are just loving it! And we’re all loving it! We’re all good friends. You turn up and there’s Mark Seymour and Maz from Boom Crash is playing drums with Mark and the names and the people just go on… Rick Brewster and Dave Gleeson who I’ve known for so many years and it’s just great to actually stand side stage and watch these guys and admire what they do and I really do. I was sitting down having some lunch with Maz and Mark Seymour and The Angels were playing and we’re just all in awe of song after song. It’s quite a legacy. It’s a pretty great bill like that. And then you can say the same thing about Mark Seymour and The Badloves and Jimmy. It’s great fun to be out there. This time, particularly, feels good because we’re playing four new songs. Most bands like us don’t really play four new songs because a lot of the audience just want to hear old material but to be totally honest, the new material is so seamless and people are just loving the new songs. Even though it’s great to play our hits, it’s great to indulge in something new as well and open up their ears again.” The four new songs are tracks from Noiseworks’ recently recorded album which will hopefully be released later this year but, for now, says Steve with a laugh, “If you want to hear the new album, come to the gig.”

But the Noiseworks album is not the only one that Steve has been working on. He has also been in the studio recording a new solo record. “That’s always exciting and good fun to do,” he says and explains the story behind the record. “There’s a blog called Humans of New York. It’s a very big campaign in the world and I saw a photograph of this old man in a wheelchair looking down the barrel of a lens. This guy was obviously a derelict and the caption of the photo was ‘I look like God, don’t I?’ and I just thought Wow! I’m going to write a song about this guy and then I was tempted by a label manager, how would I feel about writing ten songs about ten people on this blog? The blog’s massive so I thought I’d whittle it down to the Humans of New York book. I picked ten photographs and I’ve written ten songs on the photographs so it’s really quite an interesting way to write an album. I’m really excited by it and I should have it out by halfway through the year.”

But wait… there’s more. “There’s also a new edition of Black Rainbow, my previous album, called Rainbow Black which I’m going to launch on 13th May at the Opera House. It’s kind of a surreal edition. It’s to celebrate the signing to the new label and just an interim thing until the new record. I have sort of ‘deconstructed’ my previous album, Black Rainbow.” ‘Rainbow Black’ will be released through a label called Golden Robot Records who have also now signed Mi-Sex, the band that Steve now fronts and who are also about to embark on a tour. “We’re about to tour New Zealand in the last couple of weeks of February with The Angels and Dragon. That will be fantastic. That’s selling extremely well. And then we’re going to do a national run in July/August with The Angels with the new album as well. We’re currently making a new Mi-Sex album so there’s a lot going on.”

Steve admits that, when he first joined Mi-Sex, he was happy to ‘just sit back and be the singer for them’. But he is now very much a part of the song writing team as well. “That wasn’t the intention,” he says. “I just like to fit into the team.”

On top of all that, he will once again be performing in the show Ziggy Stardust. He is quick to point out that the show was already booked for The Enmore Theatre and two other shows around that for June, long before David Bowie had passed away. “Now it seems that there is a bit more interest, we’ve put a few more shows in. It’s going to be a really special year this year for that show. We’re not just a bunch of guys that do a bunch of David Bowie songs. I would hate to think of my world of music without the influence of David Bowie. It’s going to be a really wonderful show this year. Bowie was such an incredible, influential artist. We weren’t jumping on any wagon. We were already doing the show. I guess you forget people like David Bowie are human and you don’t expect them to die.”

With so much on his plate, Steve has had to turn down a lot of work too. “I have to say no to a lot of things I didn’t want to say no to. I’ve got to try and prioritise my life. I’m probably pushing the envelope a little bit as it is. I pretty much spend every day in the studio apart from when I have to go out and do shows so that’s where I live pretty much which I really love. I do believe there is Heaven on Earth and that’s right in my studio.”

by Sharyn Hamey

 Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016.  All rights reserved

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