JON Stevens remains hopeful that soon the world will hear Noiseworks' unreleased fourth album, and most importantly, his bandmate Stuart Fraser will be performing right beside him on stage.
It's been more than three years since the Sydney pub rockers recorded tracks for their first new album since 1991's Love Versus Money. But before the album could be released Fraser, the band's lead guitarist, was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2016.
It led to a wave of support from Australian music heavyweights like John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes and Diesel, who performed a benefit concert for Fraser in 2017.
Two years on Fraser's health has improved. Last October he joined Noiseworks bassist Steve Balbi on stage briefly, but a full tour would be problematic.
"He's still in and out," Stevens says. "He's still alive, which is a miracle according to doctors. He's working hard to get on top of it and build his strength up. He can't tour a whole gig yet. He hasn't got the capacity."
Until Fraser can return to Noiseworks, Stevens says the album won't be released.
"We did talk about doing stuff towards the back end of this year, but at the end of the day with Stuart, he's the main guitarist, so you can't go out without Stuart," he says.
In the meantime Stevens is keeping the Noiseworks flame burning. The charismatic frontman is heading out on a Noiseworks and INXS Collection tour, where he'll perform the band's most popular cuts like Take Me Back, Touch and Hot Chilli Woman.
Stevens fronted INXS from 2000 to 2003 following the death of Michael Hutchence in 1997 and was widely considered a more appropriate fit for the legendary band than the controversial Terence Trent D'Arby (1999) and J.D Fortune (2005-2011).
Over the years Stevens has performed INXS songs, but it was only after receiving the blessing of [INXS composer] Andrew Farriss that he fully embraced the concept.
"He [Farriss] was like, 'Please play more INXS stuff because no one else can do them justice'," Stevens says. "They're all such classic songs and it's a real joy to play those songs. When people hear them again, they just go crazy."
Just like Fraser, Stevens has endured his own life-changing health issues. In 2009 he underwent open heart surgeries to clear an artery which was "99.9 per cent" blocked.
A decade later, the 57-year-old feels healthier than when he was immortalised as the leather-clad frontman in Noiseworks' 1991 Hot Chilli Woman video clip.
"Being the singer you're forced to to survive because the responsibilities are always on the singer," he says. "If the singer falls over there's no gig.
"Even in the bad old days when everyone was being bad, I was just being bad. I wasn't being super bad because I had to get up every night. I don't know where I get the energy from. It's a combination of the audience and really maintaining my health. I feel much better now than I did when I was 25."
Jon Stevens performs at the Honeysuckle Hotel on August 8.
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