Mi-Sex


1978 From left: Richard Hodgkinson, Don Martin, Murray Burns, Kevin Stanton and Steve Gilpin.

Line-Up:
    Steve Gilpin (Vocals)
    Murray Burns (Keyboards)
    Kevin Stanton (Guitar)
    Richard Hodgkinson (Drums)
    Don Martin (Bass Guitar)

In 1972 Steve Gilpin was a cabaret singer, singing standards and winning television "New Faces" shows. Dressed in tuxedo and bow-tie he performed on the provincial hotel circuit for 5 years. But the real Steve was a frustrated rock'n'roller who couldn't wait to discard the suit and tie and belt out some real rock tunes. During one of his performances at the Awapuni Hotel in Palmerston North in 1976, he saw a group called Father Thyme also playing and was very impressed with them, suggesting that they do something together some time.

Father Thyme originated from Hamilton in 1974. They consisted of Steve Grant on vocals, Don Bedgegood on guitar, Alan Moon on organ, Lyndsay Brook on drums and Don Martin on bass. Lyndsay and Don had previously been with Freeway. Playing mainly progressive rock, they also did the hotel circuit, until their style of music was no longer popular, disbanding in May 1977.


Father Thyme 1975, Alan Moon and Don Martin far left.

Alan Moon and Don Martin took Steve up on his offer and the three teamed up. They added guitarist Kevin Stanton and drummer Phil Smart to the line-up and called themselves Fragments Of Time. Stanton had previously been with heavy metal bands Think and Brigade. The group followed along the path that had been taken by Father Thyme, basing themselves in Hamilton. There was a lot of competition around at the time, with Hello Sailor and Citizen Band doing extremely well, so Steve decided that they should try a different direction and become a 'New Wave' band.

Before this happened, Alan Moon left and was replaced by Murray Burns. Murray was from Invercargill and had been playing with Wellington's Red Rose. Phil Smart was also replaced on drums by Steve Osborne, but this was only a temporary replacement. While on a trip around the South Island in 1978, a friend of Burns', Richard Hodgkinson was recruited to fill the seat.

With this new line-up, they arrived back in Wellington and adopted a new name, Mi-Sex. The name originated from a song they were playing at the time by a British group Ultravox, called "My Sex" To create their new image, they discarded the old attire and on went the leather pants and tank tops. Short hair was also called for to complete the look.

By chance, Mi-Sex came to the attention of EMI, who were looking for a local 'New Wave' group to try out their new studio in Lower Hutt. They recorded a song called "Straight Laddie". The song was used by EMI to play at an international conference and not really intended for commercial release. But it was actually released in May 1978, with "High Class Dame" on the reverse. The single went absolutely nowhere.

In the meantime they continued performing in the regional cities of the North Island. Their show was spectacular and they were drawing ever increasing audiences. Their original intention was to earn enough money to enable them to make an assault on the Australian market. With Gilpin's wise management, this was not far away.

In July 1978 they played Auckland for the first time. Booked to play at the Windsor Castle and the Gluepot, they were soon packing the venues every night. These were the band's final New Zealand gigs, before flying to Sydney in August 1978.

This move was viewed as being premature by many. Without a solid background to their name, no-one expected to hear from them again. But how wrong they were, six months later Mi-Sex returned to New Zealand as conquering heroes. No New Zealand band had ever cracked the Australian market in such a short time as what these guys did.

On arrival in Sydney, they contacted promoter Bob Yates. He offered them a support gig to Jeff St John at a local hotel. They had to wait two weeks before this debut, so in the meantime they watched as many local bands as they could see. After seeing Cold Chisel and the Angels, they wondered if they weren't well out of their depth.

Their debut was very successful, even though there wasn't a large audience. Yates was happy to give them a further go. He booked them into his own venue, the Civic Hotel, in the middle of the city. With his promotion machine working overtime, Yates made sure the venue was filled with dignitaries and media personnel. Once again the audience loved the performance. Yates then decided to conquer Sydney in one swoop. He arranged residencies at four concurrent venues, the Strata at Neutral Bay on the North Shore, the Civic in the City, the Fairfield Hotel in the Western Suburbs, and Selina's at the Coogee Bay Hotel in the Eastern Suburbs. Within weeks, they were pulling in record crowds at every venue. By the end of 1978, Mi-Sex was Sydney's fastest-rising band.

With this success, Bob Yates started hassling record companies for a recording contract. The obvious choice was EMI (Australia), but they were not interested. Festival Records were also not interested in Punk bands. That basically only left two interested companies, CBS and Mushroom. Expatriate Kiwi Alan Galbraith of CBS signed them to a deal in February 1979.

In March 1979, Mi-Sex returned to New Zealand for the first time to do a two week tour. They were a totally different outfit to the ones that had left six months ago. They easily won over their audiences, providing them with a show of powerful lights and sound and a repertoire of almost completely original songs.

On their arrival back in Sydney, they were rushed into the studio and after a ten day effort, working with Peter Dawkins, they had recorded enough material for an album. What was most amazing about the group at this stage was their ability to draw crowds better than almost any other group at the time, and they hadn't even released an Australian record at that stage.

In June 1979, CBS released the first single, "But You Don't Care"/"Burning Up". Mi-Sex then scored a major coup by getting the support slot to Talking Heads on their national tour of Australia. CBS released the debut album "Graffiti Crimes" to coincide with the tour in July 1979. The single reached number 25 on the Australian national charts and when released in New Zealand in August in made it to number 33. (Kevin Stanton says it is his hand holding the policeman's notebook on the cover of the album and his then girlfriend posing by the wall).

The group did a live-to-air performance of the album for radio 2SM in Sydney and this broadcast was picked up by more than 30 other Australian radio stations. They also included a new song that was not on the album called "Computer Games". This was proving to be a very popular song at their performances and CBS recognised that they had a potential hit on their hands. Mi-Sex were rushed back to the studio to record "Computer Games" and the single was released in Australia on October 1st, 1979 with "Wot Do You Want" on the reverse.

                          
                Computer Games single                                               Computer Games Album (EPIC 36349)
            (as released in the Netherlands CBS 7985)                 (Graffiti Crimes in USA with same tracks different order)

In November, while they were on a national tour supporting Cheap Trick, the news came through that "Computer Games" had reached the number 1 spot on the national charts. The song was immediately added to the album for all further releases, which was excellent timing as the album was just about to be released internationally. The single peaked at number 5 in New Zealand.

Also in November 1979, Mi-Sex performed at the 'Concert Of The Decade' on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in front of 160,000 people. The band played alongside some of Australasia's best talent, including the Angels, Cold Chisel, Dragon, Renee Geyer, Skyhooks, Mental as Anything, Radiators and Split Enz.

The group headed back to New Zealand in January 1980, to perform at the Sweetwaters Festival. On their return to Sydney, they were back in the studio recording material for their second album. It was a very hectic schedule and at the beginning of April they headed to the US for a 6-week visit. The trip took them from Los Angeles to Canada, where "Computer Games" had reached number 2, and on to New York. They supported Iggy Pop, the Ramones and English punk rockers 999 along the way, as well as headlining a number of club dates themselves. It wasn't the most financially rewarding trip, but it was good for experience.

During their absence, Mi-Sex were honoured with three awards at the 1979 'TV Week/Countdown' Awards Ceremony. Most popular record for "Computer Games", best Australian single for "Computer Games" and the Johnny O'Keefe Memorial Award for Most Promising New Talent.


Mi-Sex 1980.

The band returned to Australia to find that their new single, "People"/"Pages and Matches", that had been released just prior to their US trip, had peaked at number 6 on the charts. It was the first single from the second album which was called "Space Race". CBS put everything into promoting the new album and Mi-Sex went back into a grueling schedule of gigs as well. The going wasn't quite as easy as it had been previously as there was now some more serious competition on the scene. Split Enz had the current number 1 single and also the number 1 album on the charts. "People" became the highest placing single for the group, during their time, in New Zealand, reaching number 3.

     
                                                                                  Re-release of Space Race on CD by Rainbow

Another album promoting tour of New Zealand proved very successful with the "Space Race" album reaching number 1 on the New Zealand album charts. The follow up single was "Space Race"/"Living In September", which only made it to number 28 on the charts, with the next single "It Only Hurts When I'm Laughing"/"I Don't Know" performing even worse, by only making it to number 84. "Space Race" only managed 19 in New Zealand, with the other single not even charting.


People Single

Mi-Sex toured Australia and New Zealand for the next year but found its popularity in slow decline. They performed once again at Sweetwaters in January 1981, but the show was almost identical to the one they did 12 months earlier. With audiences dwindling, the group was in trouble.

A new album was recorded and in April 1981 the first single "Falling In and Out"/"Round and Round" was released. It was a different sound to the normal electronic songs of the past. It was only a minor hit, placing at 20 in Australia and 48 in New Zealand. The next singles "Missing Person"/"Water" in August and "Shanghaied"/"The Bend" in November, both failed to chart at all. The actual album, which was called "Shanghaied", when released in November, failed to impress the record buying public. By now there attentions were focused elsewhere.

November 1981  also saw the first line-up change. Richard Hodgkinson left and was replaced by Paul Dunningham, who had previously been with Coup D'Etat. Hodgkinson joined Silent Movies, a small-time Sydney band led by Wellingtonian Colin Bayley, who himself later joined Mi-Sex in 1983 as second guitarist.

The group continued to release singles with minor success. "Castaway"/"Young Maniacs" came out in July 1982, peaking at 20 in Australia and "Down The Line (Making Love On The Telephone)"/"Calling" in December 1982 reaching 37.

Late in 1982, guitarist Kevin Stanton was forced, due to ill health, to take time out from the band. His place was taken temporarily by Ted 'The Head' Yanni. "Lost Time"/"Antipodes Army" was released in May 1983. By this time Kevin Stanton was fit enough to join the band again. Ted Yanni remained until the middle of the year when Colin Bailey, ex Silent Movies, joined as second guitarist. The band now continued as a six piece.

An extended dub version of "Lost Time", backed with a dance mix of "Computer Games" was issued late July 1983, before the release of their next new single, "Only Thinking"/"Name Game" in October. Both "Lost Time" and "Only Thinking" only made it to numbers 57 and 48 respectively on the Australian charts.

American producer Bob Clearmountain worked with the band on its fourth album, "Where Do They Go", which produced two more singles, "Blue Day"/"Lady Janice" in March 1984 and "Five O'Clock In The Morning"/"Why Did You Leave" in June. "Blue Day" was the last charting single for the group in Australia where it reached number 24 and also in New Zealand where it only made number 36.

          
                                                                                               Japanese Release

The album had a definite American slant and the single "Blue Day" almost getting a look in on the American charts. But with it and the albums failure, Mi-Sex disbanded at the end of 1984.

1985 saw the release of their last single "Non Stop Sex"/"Son Of Non Stop Sex - Shanghaied". It was a medley of all of their hit songs. In 1988 CBS released a greatest hits album called " '79-'85 (Greatest Hits)". A limited edition version of this album was also available, that contained an extra 12" album of the "Non Stop Sex" single. The two albums "Space Race" and "Shanghaied" were also released as a double by Rainbow, called "Caught In The Act". Another in the Four Play series was also released. This was a series of thirty five EP's featuring different artists. New Zealand had three artists who made the series, Mi-Sex, Sharon O'Neill and Dragon.

Steve Gilpin remained in Australia and worked with a number of bands including Under Rapz. In November 1991, Steve was involved in a car accident in Australia, while returning to his home after a gig in Coolangatta. He lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered. He died in Southport Hospital on 6th January 1992.

A compilation CD has been released by Concept, comprising of 8 songs by Mi-Sex and eight songs by Men At Work.

 

New Zealand Music