The Red Hot Summer Tour for 2013 could really live up to its name, according to Suze De Marchi of the Baby Animals. While she is very excited about the tour and joining an amazing line-up of artists in some great locations around the country, she is just a little nervous about the possible scorching conditions she might be working in. “I was talking to one of the guys earlier from Ballarat,” she tells me, “and he said it was 42 degrees there. Last time they did that tour, it was 45 degrees that they had to play in.” But, apart from the heat, Suze is looking forward to the tour. She is getting quite used to playing the festivals lately. The band recently did a few A Day on the Green shows in various regional areas, “And they were fantastic!’’ she says. “It’s amazing because it’s just been an all Australian line-up and it’s been very successful.”
A few years ago, the Baby Animals did something a little different. The Australian Rock Symphony was a project that saw the band, along with Chrissy Amphlett (The Divinyls), and Diesel perform a selection of their best known hits accompanied by a full rock band and 30 piece Orchestra with accomplished Musical Director, Tim Count “That was fantastic!” Suze declares. “It was something really different and it was actually really nice to hear all the old songs with that kind of treatment. Hearing the songs that you’ve recorded, playing with an orchestra, it’s really incredible. It was really fun to do that.”
The Baby Animals were one of this country’s most successful rock bands in the late 80s/early 90s, touring with many international artists which exposed their music to a global audience and gained them some success overseas but, when DeMarchi experienced problems with her vocal cords necessitating surgery in 1994, the band was forced to cut short their touring commitments.
In 2008, they released an acoustic CD of their hits titled Il Grande Silenzio as part of the Liberation Blue Acoustic Series. Recording the acoustic album for Liberation set the wheels in motion for the band to reform. “It was a bit of a catalyst for it,” explains Suze “because we all recorded together and then we went out on tour and we got our feet wet again. We thought it was a good way to ease back into things. Basically, I think, with me moving back and being closer with Dave being in Sydney, we were able to work together all the time rather than having to Skype so being here made all the difference. It’s hard to do it from a distance.”
While the last album was acoustic, the next one will be a return to the full band sound and the rock that we have come to expect from the Baby Animals. “We’ve just finished recording the next record,” she reveals. “That’s done now so after we finish the Red Hot Summer Tour, we’ll be full on into our own tour to promote the album. It’s quite heavy, but we always manage to do a few softer tracks on every record we do and there’s a few nice, softer tracks on this one. But it sounds like the Baby Animals.”
Suze is really enjoying being back home in Australia. After living in the U.S. for a few years, the singer finds it easier to raise a family in Australia. “I’ve got nothing against America,” she insists. “There are definitely some good things about it. And some things are tough about it as well but for me, it’s an easier life here.” Having said that, she is dismayed at just how expensive her home country has become these days. She was taken aback by the cost of simple, every day grocery items on her return to Australia. “It was a bit of a shock going into a store and paying $4 for a loaf of bread. We’re so lucky here, we have everything but it’s getting out of everyone’s reach.”
Some years ago, there were rumours that Suze would be the new lead singer of INXS. It was quite a radical suggestion that a world renowned band like INXS, who once boasted one of the industry’s most iconic male frontmen, would have a female lead vocalist. The scenario never eventuated but just how real was the possibility? “Well, they approached me,” she revealed “and we talked about the likelihood of doing a record and they were thinking that if they got a girl singer, there wouldn’t be as many comparisons to Michael and I think that was one of the reasons. So I worked with Andrew for a couple of years and it was coming along but then they decided to do the TV show to find a singer and I just thought ‘Well, if you’re going to go down that road…’ I just didn’t think it was a good idea. It was very difficult for them anyway. You can’t replace someone like Michael and it was a big problem for them and it continued to be. I was going to do it. You’d be crazy not to but it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t going to be right for me but I was really honoured to be asked.”
During the time that the Baby Animals were apart, Suze recorded a solo album but she was not overly enthusiastic about the experience. “I don’t like being solo,” she confides. “I like to be in a band. I found it dull, not having that group atmosphere and not being able to bounce ideas off people. It was interesting but it’s not something that I would necessarily consider doing again too soon.”
In fact, Suze started out as a solo artist when she first entered the music industry. “And I don’t know why I went back to it because I hated it back then! The things we do!” she laughs. “But at the time it worked out well and my husband at the time got to produce it and we got to hang out in this great studio and it was fun but it just wasn’t right. The Baby Animals for me is really my first love.”
When the Red Hot Summer Tour is over and the album is out, the band will be back on the road again, doing their own shows. “And we’ll be doing it hard!” she promises. “Our own shows, promoting the album and hopefully turning everyone on to it. We will have the single out in January and then probably the album will be out in March, I would imagine. We’re just working on that schedule right now. The main thing is that it’s recorded and done and that’s a massive relief! That part is out of the way but the hard work really starts now in promoting it. It’s a funny way that it works. The difficulty of writing it all is dreadful but it’s a great feeling when you’re on to a great song and you feel really excited about it. But then you have to put it away and you have to stop. It’s out of our hands now. We can’t really play with it anymore. We have to kind of do without and get on with it.”
The Baby Animals have toured with some big names over the years. Suze recalls the Van Halen tour, in particular. “It was the most memorable because it went for six months and that was nuts! It was crazy! I think I had to take another six months to recover from that tour. We’ve played with a lot of great people. Robert Plant was really amazing to tour with too because he’s so gorgeous and a gentleman and interesting and, obviously, iconic. Bryan Adams was amazing too. He was such a great performer and a kind man and great to watch. He was just fun. We lucked out with all of them. I think back to it and I think we’ve done a lot of great things and we’ve still got a lot to do. That’s the beauty of music. You can do it for as long as you want. God bless the Rolling Stones! God bless Madonna! God bless anyone who has this kind of life. Whatever they do, they love it.”
It’s a great thing to be able to make a living out of something that you love…
“Exactly,” she agrees “and that’s why I’m always grateful that I’m healthy enough to still do it and I can still sing.”
When I ask about future goals, Suze is uncertain exactly what they would be. “I don’t know,” she admits. “I’m really fulfilled with what I’m doing now. I’m a bit of a traveller. I do like the idea of maybe living in another part of the world at some point. I don’t want to give up that idea. I really like moving around a bit. But I think, artistically, I’m pretty happy, pretty fulfilled. Maybe I’d like to do some more film stuff. I did a bit of film music which I really enjoyed. I quite like doing that, working with people on the visual side of things so that is something I’d like to do. And maybe a book one day,” she laughs. “There’s gotta be a book in there. Everyone’s got a book in them.”
I suggest that the problem is finding the time to actually write it. “That’s true,” she agrees. “One thing at a time…”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2012 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.
The Red Hot Summer Tour kicks off in Tumut NSW on Saturday, 5th January. Tickets available from Ticketmaster. Ph: 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au
Last updated by Sharyn Hamey Dec 30, 2012.