[Interview] BABY ANIMALS

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It’s been over 20 years since their thundering debut swept across the nation, but the hibernation is over for the BABY ANIMALS. Just before they return to Australian stages to promote their new album, This Is Not The End, lead singer SUZE DEMARCHI spoke with PAUL FROST about returning to the stage, rediscovered inspiration and how to be a cool mum.

The new album sounds great…. it feels like you have never been away! Why so many years between albums?
The short answer is that I moved to another country, got married and had kids. The longer one…we had a very long battle with our label Imago – we couldn’t really record or do anything until that finished, which took about eight years. When I had my family I guess my priorities changed a little, and it wasn’t until I moved back here a couple of years ago to be closer to my family here in Australia that Dave (Leslie, lead guitarist) and I got together and started working on some songs. I guess time doesn’t really wait for anyone, does it?

Is it easier getting an album recorded and promoted now than it was with your debut album back in 1991?
It’s very different. I think you have to embrace all of the social media opportunities that we have now. Record companies functioned very differently back when we were first starting out – they focus on a whole different kind of artist these days and for us that wasn’t going to work. We had to basically do it ourselves, and we tend to engage directly with our fans now. Our experience with major labels was that if you weren’t seen as the “golden child” for that week then you basically missed out. We are also lucky now that we have done so much touring over the years and people know us. It would be kind of crazy for us not to do it ourselves now…we get to keep control and because its “our” thing, you tend to be a little more inspired during the process.

Lead single ‘Email’ seems like a real kiss off to past relationships – was writing that song a cathartic experience?
Yeah. It was actually the last song we wrote for the album, but when we came to the running order for the album it just felt like a great opener. It began life as a bit of a folksy track, and then Dave came in with a great riff and it sort of slipped into its current form. It’s a bit of a fuck you kinda love song – if you ever want to get back at someone, write a song!

The title of the album is This Is Not The End – was that meant as a call to arms or a statement of relief that you are recording again?
It was actually the name of a song that didn’t make it on the album. I liked the idea that it could have different meanings – it’s not the end of a relationship, it’s not the end of the band – and that relationships with people never really end. Plus it’s been 20 years since we last released a rock record.

Your first album was the highest selling debut ever by an Australian band, and led to a series of hit singles and international supports. How did a much younger you cope with that, and what did you learn from that experience?
What I did learn is that you probably shouldn’t drink and do drugs when you are touring so much – it will wreck you! We were so caught up in touring that when all the chart success happened in Australia we weren’t even here – we were on tour with Van Halen at that point – it all seemed very distant until we returned to Australia and starting playing much bigger rooms. The only thing that I would do differently would be to take some more time before the second album, to be able to write in your own time and not be rushed by labels.

This album is going to be released independently – were you burnt from the big label mess that happened after the release of your second album?
That was actually my third record deal and I just didn’t want to be part of that process anymore. You just get shafted on every level.

Chrissie Amphlett’s recent sad passing led to a lot of reflection in the industry about female role models in Australian rock. How do you see your role in Australian music today?
Just because I wasn’t a guy I never felt I couldn’t do what I loved doing. Chrissie was a very proud woman – she knew she was good and I really admired that. I don’t feel that I have a specific place in that whole “women in rock” thing, but if my songs make someone feel better than that’s really all you can ask.

You are about to embark on an east coast tour – what can we expect from your live shows?
We like to get up and keep it pretty simple. We will definitely be playing songs from the new album. Playing live is the payoff for us – we love what we do and we just want to share it with everyone else.

There are no current dates for Newcastle…..any chances of that changing?
Oh yeah – we will definitely be coming up to Newcastle to play soon. This current tour is about showcasing the album and connecting again with some fans, but we are about to announce another bunch of shows in October and Newie will be on the list.

Do you see a time in the future when you may return to solo work?
I don’t like being solo, I much prefer being in a band. I have another project in mind that may get up at some stage in the future – but we have already started writing for the next Baby Animals album so the band is my priority.

Now for the big test of you as a Mum – Do your kids like your music?
Ha ha. My daughter really likes the album and she’s a bit of a self-confessed music snob. My son just looks at me like “oh my god, mum”. When they see me perform they always seem a bit nervous, but I think I’m a bit of a cool mum in their eyes. Hopefully!

Have you passed onto them the music that influenced you as a youngster?
It’s a bit the other way around actually – the only new music I listen to seems to be through my daughter. I think I’ll start a mother-daughter blog – a song of the week sort of thing to show up the generational difference!

Baby Animals performs at the Entrance Leagues Club on Thursday June 20, 2013.

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