After disappearing for a decade or so, Suze DeMarchi and the Baby Animals returned to the scene last year with their latest studio offering titled This Is Not The End. Emily Hosking caught up with Suze for a quick chat about the new record and live DVD, their current Australian tour, onstage antics and how the music industry has changed since their debut days.
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Being born only a few years before the Baby Animals debut album release, it’s only been since their recent returned to the scene that I was exposed to this truly iconic Australian rock band. From the hard-hitting riff’s, Suze’s roar and powerful vocals and everything in between, the Baby Animals’ new album speaks the true language of rock and roll. Despite being Aussie rock royalty, Suze DeMarchi was not quite what I expected. Geared for an intense conversation full of rock and roll attitude, I was surprised that Suze was superbly down to earth, soft natured and, well, just lovely.
Happy Birthday for a few weeks ago and congratulations on turning 50! Your birthday coincided with the live screening of your brand new and debut live DVD. Ticking off a few milestones at once it seems?
Well we didn’t actually time it on purpose – it (the DVD screening) just happened to fall on that day. It ended up being an amazing weekend – it was really fun. It’s the first proper DVD that we’ve done. We’ve done little bits and pieces before, but not a proper concert, so it’s really great to have. It’s been really well received and nice to have something to capture our live shows which is really the most important thing to us.
This Is Not The End allows us to hear the classic Baby Animals rock sound, with a modern twist. What was it like jumping back into the studio with the band, and reinventing that classic rock sound?
It’s like riding a bike, you know. Dave (Leslie) and I know each other so well; it’s always the same. We both have our own style that seems to gel so it was amazing. We did it all by ourselves, we funded it ourselves, and we did it fairly quickly without all the people involved with having a major label. I think it was a really great thing for us to experience being responsible for it financially as well as creatively. It’s the state of the industry. If you want to get out there and work, a lot of the time you do have to do it yourself. Labels are very different these days and to be honest it’s nice to have the control of an independent. It keeps it less hectic and gives you the control.
How have you found the fans’ reaction to the Baby Animals’ return over the last few years?
The fans are amazing, they are really the reason we can keep playing. They are incredible, very loyal and obviously have really good taste in music (laughs). Our fans are pretty hardcore, but we are lucky that we have that. They are now bringing their kids along to the shows, it’s a really broad age group that we get. Younger kids, older fans, a little bit in between. We get lesbians, gays, straights, hardcore rockers; it’s a good cross section.
The Gold Coast is looking forward to having you here. What can fans expect at a Baby Animals gig these days?
Well, there’s a lot of light and shade in our shows. We do some slower stuff, it’s not just all head banging the whole way through it. I really like to play a cross section of stuff.
Any pre-show rituals?
I always have a vodka usually, before I go on, and one when I come off. We don’t do much other than have a laugh. We’re not the kind of band that crowds around and does a prayer or anything like that. We always give each other a bit of a peck before we go on, that’s about it.
The Feed The Birds tour kicked off in the major cities last year, and you are now doing round 2 of the tour out of the cities. Do you find a difference between the city audiences and out of city audiences?
City crowds tend to be a little bit more ‘arms-folded’. The regional shows are a little bit looser crowd-wise, they really appreciate when people come to see them and they take the time to do the drive and get to the gig. I like doing the regional stuff, it’s a very different kind of vibe and it’s nice to get out and see the country and connect with people to. It’s proper touring, on the road you know.
Part Two of the tour kicked off at A Day on the Green alongside music legends such as Jimmy Barnes and Daryl Braithwaite. What was that like?
As far as festivals I’ve done, A Day On The Green is the best. They are really well catered and they look after the bands really well. It’s a well organised festival with great facilities, and they are in beautiful locations at the vineyards. I really love doing those shows, they are great fun.
The name ‘Feed The Birds’ came from the tradition of pouring red-wine into the mouths of audience members in the front rows of Baby Animals shows. How did that ritual come about?
That just started in the last couple of years. I’ve never done that before at all, that was just one of those things that happened one night, and then just sort of kept happening. People were down the front and just started opening their mouths like birds. It doesn’t happen every show, but it happens every once in a while.
With very little true and new rock and roll hitting the airwaves today, do you yourself or the band find that you are influenced by many modern artists/bands?
I try to listen to a lot of stuff that my daughter introduces me to. I need to listen to more, but I find that I don’t get a lot of time to sit back and put records on. The last album that I was really obsessed with was a Robert Plant and Alison Krauss record that I listened to non-stop. But there’s a few new bands that I like; Imagine Dragons, Heim, I like the Arctic Monkeys and bands like that. It’s a single orientated world these days. It’s songs rather than albums and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Unless you’ve got 10 brilliants songs, people are just going to want to buy the single. That’s the way the world is right now. If you’re going to make an album, it’s a really long process, well it is for me anyway. It takes a while to get the songs written and to get the songs right. I don’t mind the idea of just putting a song out every month or so, you know. It allows you to keep putting stuff out rather than taking a year to write it, then to produce and record it. It’s expensive, and it should just be about the song anyway.
After talking with some of your fans, the one thing most wanted to find out was where you disappeared to since the 90’s. So what have you been up to for the last decade?
You know what, there were two reasons I had time off. One reason was that we were signed to a label that had no distribution so we couldn’t record. It took 6 years for us to get relieved. I was also a mum, it’s really hard to do both. And I was living in another country. My partner at the time was a touring musician too so someone had to be at home, and that was me. I missed it everyday, but I kept writing. Kids take up a lot of time (laughs).
Any chance of more albums from the Baby Animals in the coming years?
Yes, there is. We are definitely going to put more stuff out. I’m not sure what format we’ll do it in. I’ve been thinking about just putting songs out. I don’t know if I want to do an album, or maybe a shorter album. I’d rather concentrate on writing great songs and put them out when they are done, you know. Unless we’ve got a story to tell in an album, we’ll just be thinking about putting songs out as we go. That’s the idea. It (the music industry) is what it is. You can’t change it. It’s not like it used to be, it’s a very different world out there and as an artist, you just have to embrace it.
Any parting words?
We’re excited to get back up to the coast and to see everyone. And if you want to get fed, get up the front and bring a change of clothes.