“Music Washes Away From The SoulThe Dust Of Everyday Life.” – Berthold Auerbach.
The quote acting as a title for this article crafted by the famous German-Jewish poet and author has a timelessness that cannot be quantified. It’s relevance speaks to all living beings with a comprehension and understanding of sound through infinite windows of interpretation. Music’s ability to incite a measureless amount of reactions universally is essentially why it is so inspiring.
Sydney’s Baby Animals singer and guitarist, the forever alluring hard rock Australian Queen Suze DeMarchi has mastered and continues to live and breathe this quote. For over three decades Suzi has utilised her immeasurable talent to create anthems which music aficionados of the world have latched onto as if magnetised by an inescapable power. But as Suzi informs Glam Adelaide ahead of her “hot lap” prior to the Clipsal 500 Adelaide performance Baby Animals will thankfully be administering this weekend; these anthems are just as powerful to her as they are to her devotees. In fact a single entitled Email released in 2013 was actually a song Ms. Demarchi used as therapy when she was undergoing a very difficult time in her life.
“It’s funny because when I wrote that I was up at Dave’s (Leslie, guitarist) place and he was living on the Central Coast where we were writing furiously for the album (entitled This Is Not The End). Anyways I was right in the middle of this divorce (from Nuno Bettencourt from Boston rock band Extreme) and I had written all these lyrics which I wasn’t entirely sure about, so I asked Dave: ‘I can’t say that can I?’, well he was pretty quick to respond with: ‘Of course you can, why not?’. So I did and I said exactly what I wanted.”
In Suze’s presence or just observing the aura she presents when performing, it is hard to comprehend that she in fact has any vulnerability amongst her powerful stance as an artist. In retrospect, it can be difficult to remember that musicians of this magnitude are actually as “human” as their listeners; but it is this facet that builds the relationship of adoration, the association through the music. This method of healing becomes all-embracing through song rather magically as Suze admits, and revealing these emotions acts as a medicine on multiple levels.
“I actually wondered why I was trying to protect myself, that’s not what creating music and artistry is about. It’s about exposing yourself and although I did make some changes to the original; I think it’s fine to expose yourself but not to really expose too much about somebody else.”
She continues – “But with that on my conscious and without trying to ‘vent’ too much, I just thought ‘bugger it’ and wrote what was on my mind. It resonates when you do that, everyone goes through the same stuff. It might not be the ‘exact’ same, I mean work stuff is a pretty constant issue worldwide, there’s nothing that I have experienced that somebody else would have experienced to some extent, it’s therapy.”
To say that the Baby Animals have had a complex past would be an understatement. In 1996 just after the collapse of the quartet’s first planned major USA tour, the band announced their hiatus and in turn saddened adorers on a worldwide scale. However, when one door closes, another window opens and Suze Demarchi began her next life-long commitment, one of the most challenging yet rewarding ambitions known to humanity, motherhood.
One must wonder though, this would have been a difficult transition when Suze had spent the entirety of your adult years as a touring musician?
“It was, but at that point I was ready, we toured A LOT early on. When I had my first child I was ready to move on and I was really looking forward to it actually. I wanted to be a mum and I wanted to move on from that earlier part of my life. Don’t get me wrong, my music is incredibly important to me but family is also. So I just had to make the time for it and not think about what the consequences might be and deal with those when they came along.”
She further clarifies – “It’s complicated but it was something I really really missed the whole time I was away, but I had consciously made a choice to not tour.”
The choice of disbandment gratefully was not permanent. Through undisclosed meetings and private conversations, a transition toward regrouping the Baby Animals became more of a “project” than a “prospect” around 10 years ago. It plagued this writer to ask however, what was the catalyst to the reformation of Baby Animals?
“Originally what happened was Dave and I did an acoustic record for Liberation records (entitled Il Grande Silenzio) which they had been asking us to do for year years for their Blues series. Basically they were asking different artists to do different versions of their hit songs. For a long time I had absolutely no interest in doing that, but finally I sat down with Justin Stanley in LA and he talked about doing One Word with a chain gang feel and Painless with an Indian flavour. I actually thought that it sounded rather fun to do so we did the record and then Dave and I decided that we should check with there other members to see if they would be interested in another album.”
It was that simple?
“It was the catalyst and the rest of the band actually flew out to LA and we worked on a few a new songs.”
Suze paused for a moment before expelling an understandable sigh; she then revealed – “It became pretty apparent early on and quickly that we weren’t really seeing eye to eye anymore on a lot of things. We all kind of realised that while some of us had moved on from past problems, I certainly had, others were still harbouring some issues and they were not entirely resolved which ultimately became very awkward and difficult. I actually had not moved back to Australia at that point, when I did move things became a lot easier to move forward.”
Moving forward is exactly what transpired. By 2013 the four-piece were armed with a new album, touring was a priority and the Animals had their Fire guiding them.
“I love playing, so I am always up for shows all the time. We have played quite a bit last year, truthfully not enough, but I genuinely love it. We played Perth last week, which is my home town and that was GREAT and we had an awesome crowd. I just feel really fortunate that we can keep playing you know? The pay off is doing the shows and the fact that people are still coming to the shows is always the best reward.”
She then reiterates – “I was away for 16 years, but whenever we play I am actually blown away. They ALLOWED us to do this? How rude for them (laughs).”
The campaign of sorts for “women in rock” has certainly become increasingly more prominent as time has unfolded since the early days of rock’n’roll. In Australia, Ms. Demarchi is often viewed as one of the leading women associated with this empowering movement that has thankfully, increased appreciation for all people to be respected by their virtuosity and not their gender. It felt necessary to this scribe to enquire to Suze her opinion on this high regard that she deservedly has carrying with her?
“It doesn’t actually happen that often. If I run into those people or even the band we played with in Perth who were a young girl band, they were very complimentary and wanted to ask a lot of questions. Which is cool, I really do love that stuff. I don’t put myself into a category, I never have. In my day when I first started I didn’t define myself and yell ‘I’m a girl’. The only thing that really I put my foot down about was having my own hotel room. Everything else I was totally equal with the band. I actually did not struggle with anything else, there were moments sure but I just didn’t give it any weight you know?”
She further elaborates – “I know there is struggle, especially with women in the arts, whether film or whatever else. I have girlfriends in that field of work, one of my best friends is a hot-shot producer in LA who started a company to make films that only has women in the lead roles. They see a lot more of the struggle. I don’t really, maybe I am just in a bubble in my band? But I don’t put myself in that category and no-one ever comes up and says: ‘You are a chick so we are going to make you do this, that and the other’. It doesn’t occur to me, but it my just be the way I am and my perspective too.”
What is your perspective then?
“I mean I live in a man’s world, the music industry is really a man’s world, it’s mostly run by men. But the minute you start alienating yourself and removing yourself from your power as a PERSON and a voice and an opinion, then you categorise yourself. I am not feminist, I am not anything else, I am just a person that has the same ability as anybody else. It’s not graded and it shouldn’t be.
“Women’s rights are great but so are men’s you know? I actually find it really divisive. Men are good at their things, women are good at their things; women can have babies, men can’t; generally physically men are stronger than women, you know? Let people BE who they are and that’s that. I feel like it can be a real waste of time.”
It might be an uncomplicated point of view, but it speaks a truth that has unfathomable vigour and uprightness which is exactly how Suze and her baby Animals perform. To finish, it seemed more than pertinent to ask: What can Clipsal 500 expect Saturday night?
“I always feel that I have to do the absolute best I can, because people have come out to see you, paid their money and made the effort. Regardless we always have a good time when we play.”
There is the Early Warning Adelaide; in fact, the world.