“In a way it was an amazing journey, and it was a fantastic passport to indulgence.”
Balbi describes the third album as his “moment of truth”. He and Justin Stanley were to spend more time in production and the record company decided to send Jon Stevens and Stuart Fraser to the US to write songs with “hit” songwriters.
“I remember being in a meeting,” recalls Balbi, “and sort of saying it’s a ‘band’. I think it’s probably a bit of a mistake to do that. But that happened anyway.” Stevens and Fraser left for the US whilst Balbi and Stanley were left to their own devices in a small office in East Sydney to work on material. Unhappy with a situation Balbi saw as unfair, he approached their manager Michael Browning in the middle of the night to strike a deal. This approach was a clever one, giving the manager not only a sense of opting in, but of being part of a defining moment in the band’s history.
Balbi goes on to tell the story, “And I said ‘What kind of song do you want? If I could write you a song, give us a week in the studio.’ And he (Browning) just sat there and said, ‘Fast cars. Rock & Roll… Chicks.’ And so I went downstairs, picked up the guitar and coined ‘Hot Chilli Woman’. I wrote it in about 20 minutes, went upstairs, played it to him. And he liked it.”
“It was a bit of a joke as far as I was concerned. It was a dare, a way of getting some more money to get into the studio.”
Obviously, Browning honoured his end of the deal and Hot Chilli Woman went on to become one of Noiseworks’ biggest hits. Although the iconic track brought the band commercial success, Balbi describes the incident as the “beginning of the end” of Noiseworks. He and Justin Stanley, however, really connected at a deeper level during that time and laid the foundations for the Vincent Stone record and the beginning of the Electric Hippies.
Balbi from the beginnings of CCEntertainment
Balbi has been a part of the CCEntertainment live shows since 2003. “I’d run into Joseph (Calderazzo) at the basement a few times as he was working with other artists,” says Balbi. He describes his initial experiences with the first CCE Shows. “It just seemed like a good idea and a lot of fun. And, at that point in time, that’s what it was. I knew most of the band and I met a whole heap of new singers and artists. It was just a great night out. It really was.”
Balbi brings his own style of entertainment to these shows:
“I think what I like to do is be unpredictable and change things up a little bit. I like to take a lot of risks, as in calling different solos or breaking the band down, or a bit of audience action and a little bit of madness.”
“It’s quite logical that a few years down the track the show is at the Enmore Theatre because it just gotten better and better and better. I’m proud to be a part of it, actually, and I’ve always been asked back. I’ve done every show. So, I feel really honoured to be asked back every time.” For CCEntertainment, the Whole Lotta Love show at the Enmore Theatre in September 2009 is a real coming of age for the company, and one in which Balbi has played an influential part.
Acoustic and Onwards
In recent times, Balbi has been playing intimate venues like the Vanguard in Sydney’s inner suburb of Newtown, with an acoustic solo or duo original show. He has numerous projects in various stages of production as well as an album from his recent band, Move Trees. He has also been co-writing with Noiseworks frontman, Jon Stevens.
Balbi’s definition of success is a profound one: “Being true to your gift and doing what you believe in.”