Noiseworks are an Australian hard rock band formed in Sydney in 1986 with bass guitarist Steve Balbi, guitarist Stuart Fraser, drummer Kevin Nicol, keyboardist Justin Stanley and lead vocalist Jon Stevens.
They had four Australian Top 10 albums, Noiseworks (No. 6, 1987), Touch
(No. 5, 1988), Love Versus Money (No. 1, 1991) and Greatest Hits (No.
4, 1992). They produced three Top 10 singles, "Take Me Back", "Touch"
and "Hot Chilli Woman" before disbanding in 1992. Reunion tours occurred
in 1999, 2004, 2007–2008 and 2011.
New Zealand-born pop singer Jon Stevens had released a solo album and
several hit singles (including a duet with Sharon O'Neill) before
relocating to Sydney in 1981. Stevens recorded a self-titled album for
the Big Time label, two singles were issued but neither were successful.
In 1983, Stevens formed The Change with guitarist Stuart Fraser, who
had played in 1970s hard rock act Blackfeather (later called Feather)
and then with fellow member Swanee. Bass player Steve Balbi, who was a
member of Kevin Borich Express and played with The Change on their 1984
single "Forever Young". The following year, Stevens and Fraser hired
Balbi and drummer Kevin Nicol (ex-Dial X). United States-born Justin
Stanley was Balbi's song writing partner and joined the group in 1986,
the band was renamed as Noiseworks.
Noiseworks was formed in Sydney with the line up of Steve Balbi on bass
guitar and backing vocals; Stuart Fraser on guitar and backing vocals;
Kevin Nicol on drums; Justin Stanley on keyboards, harmonica and backing
vocals; and Jon Stevens on lead vocals. After quickly establishing a
solid following on Sydney's pub rock circuit, Noiseworks was signed by
CBS. Their first single, "No Lies", reached the Top 40 on the Kent Music
Report Singles Chart. "Take Me Back" was more successful, making No. 7,
and became one of the band's best known songs.
On 20 July 1987 they released their debut self-titled album, Noiseworks,
which was produced by Mark Opitz (The Angels, Cold Chisel)and
engineered by Alan Wright (INXS, Icehouse, Ratt). It peaked at No. 6 on
the Kent Music Report Albums Chart. "Love Somebody" and "Welcome to the
World" were also lifted from the album, but neither made the Top 40.
Noiseworks sold more than 210,000 copies (3× platinum) in Australia.
"Burning Feeling" was released as the album's fifth single in early
1988, which failed to chart.
On 11 November 1988, their second album Touch was released and debuted
at No. 5 on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Albums
Chart. The album was produced by Chris Kimsey (The Rolling Stones,
Killing Joke, Marillion) and Noiseworks, and engineered by Al Wright
(Hoodoo Gurus, Jimmy Barnes, Divinyls). The title track preceded it as
the first single, peaking at No. 12 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
Subsequent singles "Voice of Reason", "Simple Man" and "In My Youth"
failed to make the Top 40. Nevertheless, Noiseworks was now one of
Australia's most popular live rock acts.
The third album, Love Versus Money, had production started by Noiseworks
but was initially rejected by their new label, Sony. Sony brought in
Randy Jackson to assist in the album's production. Love Versus Money
featured guest appearances by Michael Hutchence of INXS, Vika and Linda
Bull and Penny Ford of the techno group Snap!. The first two singles,
"Freedom" and "Miles and Miles" were moderate hits, but the third, the
hard-rocking "Hot Chilli Woman", reached No. 7 and propelled the album
to the top of the chart when it was released on 5 July 1991. Late in the
year, a fourth single "R.I.P. (Millie)", a tribute to Stevens' mother
who had recently died from cancer, was also released.
Stevens joined the cast of the Australian production of Jesus Christ
Superstar in early 1992 in the role of Judas. Noiseworks disbanded
following a final show in Sydney in March 1992. Later that year, the
Greatest Hits compilation appeared, featuring a cover of The Beatles hit
"Let It Be" which was released as a single. It had been recorded live
at their last performance. The compilation climbed to No. 4 nationally.
Balbi and Stanley formed the psychedelic pop group Electric Hippies in
1993 and had top 30 success with the single, "Greedy People", and debut
album, Electric Hippies both released in 1994. Electric Hippies were
producers for different artists including, Vincent Stone, Jenny Morris
and Nikka Costa (Stanley's wife). By 1997, Balbi had formed another
band, Universe. Stanley and Costa returned to the US.
Stevens returned to his solo career and released further albums; he
appeared as the host of the reality TV show The Resort. In 1999, Fraser,
Nicol and Stevens reformed Noiseworks (as Noiseworks II) with Chris
Becker on bass guitar and Barbara Griffin on keyboards and toured
Australia. In 2000 Stevens joined INXS, initially as a touring vocalist,
but after being officially installed as a band member in October 2002
he left the band a year later. A single released by this version of the
group, "I Get Up", was unsuccessful.
Noiseworks reformed in September 2007, with Scott Aplin on keyboards in
place of Stanley, for a national tour with The Choirboys and Balbi's
project Move Trees. In December, Stevens announced that Noiseworks
planned to return to the studio in 2008 to record their first studio
album together in sixteen years. Jon Stevens and the original Noiseworks
band members featured on the Red Hot Summer Tour of NSW (in early May
2011) alongside Jimmy Barnes and Thirsty Merc.
Noiseworks is currently in the studio recording their new album. They aim to release this in mid-late 2014.