MI-SEX on tour to the Bash

In a surreal kind of week for the Broken Hill community with so many rock stars around town for the Mundi Mundi Bash, I found myself walking down Argent St with Mi-Sex and casually bumping into Kate Ceberano… as you do.

For those who don’t know, Mi-Sex is a New Zealand new wave band originally active from 1978 to 1986, and led for much of its existence by Steve Gilpin as vocalist, Kevin Stanton as guitarist and songwriter, Murray Burns as keyboardist and songwriter, with Don Martin as bassist.

As a roller skating teen-queen during the 1980s, the Mi-Sex song, Computer Games was a huge hit with me and once you start humming you can’t get out of your head.

So, here’s what a star-stuck journalist learnt about Mi-Sex.

Sitting at a local café shooting the breeze before the official interview with lead singer Steve Balbi – who’s also founding bass guitarist of ‘80s band, Noiseworks – and the band’s keyboardist and songwriter, Murray Burns, on the day before they headed out to perform at the Mundi Bash will go down as one of my career highlights.

Hearing of Murray’s past adventures with the original band around our region, playing the RSL in 1983, followed by two-up at the Palace, water skiing on Menindee Lakes on surf boards, going down into the mines, St Pats races and driving too fast in an RX7 (until they saw a roo stuck in a mangled 4WD bull bar), I thought I’d kick off the interview with an easy question, “So, having been to the Silver City before, what are your thoughts about Broken Hill?’

Steve responds casually with, “well, I just can’t work out why no one’s tried to fix it – what? It’s a great dad joke I’m sure you haven’t heard before!

“But seriously, I have to start by telling you that I’m actually the Deputy Deputy Mayor of Broken Hill,” Steve says very matter-of-factly.

“Yes, last time we played here, the mayor was here with his deputy and we were all having a great old time,” said Steve. “And I said to them both, can there be a deputy deputy mayor?

And they said, Yep, so I said, come on then, and so the mayor did a quick knighting [said while waving his arms around] and I accepted, so I am officially the Deputy Deputy Mayor of Broken Hill, which apparently means that I’m legally allowed to arrest someone, so back then, I thought, why don’t I arrest Paul Kelly – the headline act – now that would have been a big story.”

Once the laughter subsided, Murray said playing a gig in our region was a rite of passage.

“Travelling to this region has become a rite of passage for so many people. – it’s incredible land out here,” said Murray.

Steve said the first time he’d come to our region, he’d told an Aboriginal man what an amazing place it was.

“This fella just said, ‘it is, and it keeps singing you back’, and it’s true, you drive out through this amazing desert to very familiar surroundings for us at Mundi, so it’s quite bizarre really. It’s not just another gig, because you’re coming to Broken Hill. It’s just so special.”

Steve continued, “before I was knighted Deputy Deputy Mayor of Broken Hill, the mayor and I were talking about how much Mundi Mundi makes for the town – some extraordinary amount that I can’t recall right now but it really adds up.

This isn’t about rock’n’roll, we’re just here because this event is a catalyst to bring everyone together in the desert – it’s unreal – everyone’s just here to have a good time.

“Last time I was here driving through the desert with a photographer, we stopped, and I was getting out of the car, but I went to put my foot on the ground, and I felt this like entity went… ‘you be cool, I’ll be cool’, which left me thinking, wow, this is a powerful place,” said Steve. “And the bloke is right, this land keeps singing us back.”

When the original lead singer of Mi-Sex, Steve Gilpin, passing away in a car accident in Mullumbimby in 1992, the other band members had no intention of reforming, but a chance meeting with Steve Balbi saw the band reunite in 2010.

Murray told us, “the band had no intention of playing again at all until Don and Collin [other band members] met up with Steve and the new version of Mi-Sex was born.

So, every four or five months we run around and do some shows somewhere and just have some fun, but we’ve sadly also lost Don now too.”

Steve says, “Steve was a better lead singer than me, but hey, I’m just glad to be keeping the gig together.”

With the interview in the bag, Steve and Murray came to check out the printing press at the Barrier Truth building, but on our way to the car, Kate Ceberano was strolling down Argent St with friends, so I had another encounter to add to my collection of special journalistic moments.

With someone telling us that they went to beep a bloke who walked out in front of them in Argent St, but then realised it was Troy Cassar-Daley so held off the horn, we know we’re not alone with our story of close encounters with musicians last week, so let us know your stories by sending them to [email protected] or leave a comment under this story on our Facebook page –


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