The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





The Baby Animals Interview 2013



For those growing up in Australia at the start of the nineties The Baby Animals were the best live rock band out there, fronted by the golden voiced Suze DeMarchi their first two albums took Australia by storm and led very quickly to tours overseas with some of the biggest names in Rock – like Van Halen and Robert Plant to name but two.  When their label went under the band eventually went their separate ways, but Suze and Dave from the original line-up are back with a stunning new album ‘This Is Not the End’.  They’re also touring the first part of the ‘Feed the Birds’ tour. Suze caught up with Mark for a chat before they hit Perth this weekend to play to Suze’s hometown crowd.


Mark: Hi, Suze, how are you? The “Feed the Birds” tour is underway already, how’s it going so far?


Suze: Hi, Mark, I’m good thanks. It’s actually going really well, we’ve had amazing crowds, and the band’s having a lot of fun, and we are all really enjoying it.


Mark: That’s great. How are the new guys fitting in, Dario and Nick?


Suze: They’re fantastic! You know what, it’s not anything against the other guys, it’s just a different sort of dynamic, and it’s like everyone is just enjoying being there. They’re great players and they really add a lot to the band as a unit, it’s all going very, very well and so we’re lucky.


Mark: Fantastic. What songs are you taking out on the road, any surprises from earlier albums?


Suze: Yeah, we’re doing something from everything, we’re even doing one song from my solo record, we’re doing a lot of stuff that people have requested, we gave everyone the opportunity online to request stuff for this tour, and so we are doing what they asked for. Basically, stuff from every album, and a lot of stuff from the new album, so there’s something for everyone.


Mark: That’s great, and it does sound like you’re having fun out there, which, I guess if you weren’t you wouldn’t be out there!!


Suze: I think that’s the whole idea of being in a band. I joined the band because I have a lot of fun doing it; I always think if you stop enjoying it, you should call it a day! We did take a break for a while, that being one of the reasons, it did become a nightmare of a job, trying to keep everything going, and keeping everyone happy, the label, and all that crap! But, now it’s just Dave and I writing most of our stuff, I really love working with him still, we’ve had a very long partnership, and we have a mutual admiration for each other, and that just makes you want to keep working.


Mark: Is what you get from working on stage today, the same as it always was, or has it changed over time?


Suze: I reckon it’s the same, I’ve always felt the whole idea of being in a unit, is that you’re creating something together, and there’s a real thrill to that when you are all playing well together, enjoying the songs you’re playing, and then you connect with the crowd. That’s magical, when that happens, those moments don’t happen all the time, but generally in every show you get that feeling of “wow”, we have the best job in the world!! Aren’t we lucky, that kind of thing, you know?



Mark: Your second last date, is The Astor in Perth, is it always good to get back home?


Suze: It’s always good to get back home! I came back to Australia about three years ago, primarily to be near my family, and bring my kids back here, and start working again, but I’m still far away from my family, as I’m in Sydney. I probably get back to Perth about three or four times a year, and every time I get back, I always enjoy it, it’s still my home. Even in Sydney, even though it’s Australia, it’s not really my home.


Mark: It’s a great place, I’ve been here about 10 years now, and you just keep coming back! It’s one of those strange places where, even though I’m not from here, there is a connection to it.


Suze: You know I spent 10 years in LA, in weather, that’s pretty much the same every day, and I quite miss the seasons, and when you come back to Australia, you definitely get the seasons, but you don’t get that six months dark and cold, it’s hard to beat the Aussie weather, I have to say!


Mark: The new album is fantastic, I love it! I’ve played it to death!! It does sound like a modern take on the very recognisable Baby Animals sound, is that a natural progression?


Suze: Yeah, look, we just went in, and there were a couple of songs that have been hanging around for a while, before I came back to Australia, but when I got back, Dave and I decided to work on this every day and see what we come up with, we just wrote stuff, and there was a lot of stuff that we loved, and stuff that we thought wasn’t good enough, and we’d throw it away, and then fixate on one that we got off on! The whole process of recording, we just kept really simple and quick, we went and did a lot of pre-production and I think we just wanted to stay true to ourselves and make a record that sounded like us, that we loved, and hoped that other people would like it. I am still shocked! All the responses we’ve had from it have been great, and I think the basis for that is just being honest and doing stuff that you like, that you believe in, and that isn’t manufactured. It is what we are.


Mark: I guess, the pressure’s off now, with that big label breathing down your neck!


Suze: The pressure’s off, but we do put pressure on ourselves. It’s a funny think being an independent world now, I have spent my entire career being signed to major labels, and there are benefits to that, but the down side of that is pretty huge, in that, you are tied to it, and then when things fuck up the band, then you are stuck in paperwork! And, that is just the kiss of death for a musician! Musicians are free spirits, we’re meant to go out, create and play and do all of that stuff. Being independent means you have a lot more control, we funded the whole thing, we funded the new album, we found a small label, and a great management team, that don’t have a massive history, but, they have passion, and they believed in this. They are very supportive, and it’s a very different world, we don’t have that big machine behind us, but we have faith, and we have a very loyal fan base, which is fucking awesome!!




Mark: I suppose these days, with the technology; it’s so much easier to connect to those fans, and for them to find you.


Suze: The internet has been a real blessing, and it’s been the lynch pin of the changes in the music industry, and the way that music is heard and sold. You have to look at your record as a marketing tool now, and I kind of lament the loss of the whole making of an album, I’m from that era, but I’m also open to embracing new ways of putting stuff out. I don’t know if we’ll do another record or if we’ll just do singles, you’ve got to be open to all of that stuff. It’s a big ask to make a record at a certain level, you can make it in your bedroom, but it’s not going to sound very good!! I’m still coming to grips with the whole thing, I’m excited by it, but I’m still a little bit wary of it! I haven’t wrapped my head around the whole Spotify thing, we have six or seven hundred streams of Spotify, of our album, and they paid us $3.31! It is what it is, it’s not going away!!


Mark: It’s crazy, and it is hard to know what to do. There are some great tracks on the album, it’s got a really live sound, and the track listing is great, and it flows really well.


Suze: Oh, I’m glad you noticed that! For a lot of people, that just goes over there head a bit! We spent a lot of time on the running order, because I think that’s really important.  But, these days it’s not as important, as people just listen to one or two songs, you’re from the album era, so you obviously listen to albums as they are.


Mark: Yeah, you listen to them the way they were intended to be listened to, I mean obviously you have your favourites that you put on repeat in the car, but I still like to listen to an album all the way through.


Suze: I do too.


Mark: Some of our favourites are “Invisible Dreamer”, “Hot Air Balloon”, "Warm Bodies" and “E-Mail” is a fantastic song, do you have any particular favourites on there?


Suze: I really like “Warm Bodies”, for some reason to me, that song is so simple, it’s so basic, yet, I love playing it live. It’s one of those songs that came together very, very quickly; it’s a real simple bluesy piece of music. So, I love that, and I really like playing, “Under Your Skin”, that’s such a ball tearer live!


Mark: I think you played both of those live at The Charles, last year when we saw you. “E-Mail” is obviously the big single, and it has a lyric in there where you can sense some frustration in there!


Suze: Can you really?!! (Laughs)


Mark: Maybe it’s just me!! (Laughs) Was it chance for you to blow off a bit of steam?


Suze: Yeah, and that was the last song that we’d written for the album, and the last one before we went in to record. To be honest with you, when I wrote that I thought, can I say that? And then I thought fuck it, I can say it!! You can say whatever you want in a song! I think you’ve just got to be honest and write what you’re feeling about everything, it is what it is!


Mark: Yeah, life goes on!


Suze: Yeah, if you really want to get back at someone, write a song!



Mark: Yeah, it stays around a long time! Just a bit of history now, the rise of the Baby Animals from playing clubs, to getting out there with Bryan Adams, Van Halen, and Robert Plant, it seemed like it happened in an instant, is that what it felt like to you at the time?


Suze: Yeah, it was a really busy time, when we first started we worked every day, and rehearsed every day, wrote every day, seven days a week we were in the rehearsal rooms or working on stuff. We didn’t let up at all and we were doing gigs in between that, because we were on a mission, and we had this great manager, John Woodruff, who really was pivotal in getting us the right deal, and he had great contacts in America and Europe, as far as getting us promoted, we had such great support from our label at the time, and they were throwing a lot of money at us, that’s why we got those tours, I mean we got the tours because they liked the band, we must have had a million dollars spent on tour support for us at that point, so we were very fortunate that we had that support. The offers just kept coming in, and we just kept saying yes, ok, let’s go! I remember two years straight touring, without a weekend in two years!


Mark: I suppose the question is would you take that now, if that happened again?


Suze: Wow, I’d love it, I’d love to go to Europe and play to our fans there, and I’d love to go to America and play again, but I don’t know, it’s expensive! Unless something crazy happens and the album takes off somewhere, and we can afford to do that, then yeah, we would be on the next plane out, but we’re happy with what we have, we’re happy just to be able to play and keep making records. It would be different now, anyway, as we’ve all got kids now.


Mark: Of course the end of the Baby Animals was almost as fast, with your throat problems and legal issues, and I suppose the collapse of the label was the thing that really did it.


Suze: People don’t realise how hard we fought to stay together, we fought for seven years to get released from Imago. When I moved to America, I had a kid pretty early on, I got married and the band came over a few times and stayed. We went to New York several times and tried to sit down with the head of Imago, and asked him to release us, so that we could keep recording, because we could record on our own, but there was no distribution, so it wouldn’t mean anything. There were several other bands in the same boat, you sign a deal like that, and they still own the first two albums. We did fight for it, but at the end of the day we couldn’t afford to fight any more. I was in another country also, so it was difficult to keep working, Dave and I kept working, he worked on my solo record.




Mark: You got back together in 2007, but the line-up didn’t work out, so now with new members, what are your plans after this tour?


Suze: We are going to do a second leg of the “Feed the Birds Tour” in February/March and April, we are going to do regional touring, going out to places that we haven’t got to. We are going to keep recording, we’ve already started writing for the next record, and we are still working on new songs all the time. I don’t know if it’ll be an album straight away, we might put a couple of songs out, I don’t know! I feel like we should just write a song and put it out, and then write another song and put it out!


Mark: Yeah, do what feels right and try everything, I think that’s the key today, try everything and see what works. The industry has changed so much, what would be your advice to bands starting out today?


Suze: My only advice to anyone who wants to be in music is that you really have to fucking practice, practice a lot and you really have to love what you do, and do it for the right reasons, don’t do it for the money, if the money comes along, that’s awesome, but if you just do it for that, you are going to be disappointed! I think also, surround yourself with really great people, people who you want to write with and people who you want to manage you, and trust, that’s important too!


Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the creation of any classic rock album, at any point in time, what would it have been for you and why?


Suze: It would have to be one of the Zeppelin records, wouldn’t it? I mean, I would have loved to have heard that, just the way they record everything. There are so many stories, about how Jimmy Page got his sound that would be interesting. There’s also in the early days when The Beatles used to use four track recorders, and then just multi track them on the four track, that would also be interesting. But, let me think, ok, it would be “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac that would be really good; it took them a year to make that record, and probably a lot of “blow”!!!


Mark: Finally, what is the meaning of life?


Suze: I think it’s to find something that makes you happy. Happiness is the meaning of life. You’ve got to be here for some reason, and I feel when you’re happy that’s a reason to be here, it’s not when you’re miserable all the time!


Mark: Thank you so much for spending the time with us this morning.


Suze: Are you coming to The Astor?


Mark: Yes, I’ll be there, and I’ll be taking some photos as well.


Suze: Great, come and have a beer with us!


Mark: Will do, and thanks again, see you soon and take care.




Suze DeMarchi spoke to Mark Diggins on 29th October 2013





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