February , 1992
By Cheryl Harris
Rockin' Stateside from Down Under
"I'm intrigued , actually, as to what to expect," pondered Suze DeMarchi, Baby Animals' vocalist, when asked what she was expecting on their first night opening for Van Halen's Dallas show on Jan. 28. "I'm just curious as to how it's gonna sound with nineteen thousand people telling us to (kiss) off!"
Welcome to Texas!
DeMarchi, along with bassist Eddie Parise had just arrived in the Big D, and over dinner at their hotel, it was obvious that they were eager for the tour to get underway. Baby Animals was one of the premier showcase acts in L.A. during Foundations Forum '91, and leverberations from that performance — as well as the band's debut album on Imago Records —are being felt all across the U.S. Fresh off the European concert trail opening for Bryan Adams, America now has the chance to enjoy their energetic, guitar-driven sound live.
The band members — all in their late twenties, and all natives of Australia — formed in 1989 in Sydney and spent most of the next year touring that country on the "pub circuit." Baby Animals' self-titled debut release was recently certified gold in their homeland, where their fan base is largest, yet with the current exposure, it won't be long until other countries follow suit.
"We're doing five weeks (with Van Halen) which is the length of this leg of the tour. As for dates on the tour after that, let's see how it goes. It depends — if they like us and we like them, we'll just have to see — it'll be cool, though. It's a good combination," DeMarchi continued.
They are also comfortable with the Imago record label. The New York-based company, with offices also in L.A., Sydney and London, support their clients to the utmost.
"It's headed by Terry Ellis, previously of Chrysalis," bassist Parise explained, "he's a fabulous guy, with great policies. We really liked him from the first minute we met him. He came to see us play at this dingy little place in Sydney! The band was only about seven months old then. And after we started talking to him about the record deal, we knew this was the right decision."
"Their (Imago's) policies are important," added DeMarchi, "things like not releasing more than three albums a year, which means that they can dedicate the time that every band deserves when they've got a record coming out. When a record company releases 140 singles a fortnight there's no way they can support them properly. Imago has really good attitudes of looking after each band they sign. They look at the band over the long term, and they have lots of young, vibrant, interesting people with them. It's a nice approach. We'll see, anyway!"
DeMarchi, who previously worked in London supporting herself as a songwriter, is referred to as 'the lyricist of the band,' and Parise writes most of the music. Yet it's the overall influence of the entire band — specifically considering the different personalities, tastes in music, and even their similarities— that gives Baby Animals their uniqueness.
"But overall," DeMarchi went on to say, "it's a group effort. Every member of the band has their own input, and we all fine-tune the music."
As usual, talk always drifts toward the band's video work, and I mentioned I'd seen their video a few times on MTV. "Painless?" asked Parise, regarding the song title.
"No, you mean "Brainless," interjected DeMarchi, with a twinkle in her eye, "especially Eddie's part! But seriously, we're getting great response to it."
"Especially in Australia and parts of Europe it's doing really well," Parise added.
Baby Animals' signature sound — straight-forward cinder block guitars with a tight rhythm section — is made even more distinctive by DeMarchi's vocals. Her voice, husky yet captivating, allows delivery of the songs in a manner that is mesmerizing. It will appeal to both rock & roll fans as well as the alternative college crowd.
Their musical influences envelop a wide range of styles. Artists such as Zeppelin, Free, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Patsy Cline, ABBA, (yes Abba!) and the Doobie Brothers all rank high on their list. Current favorites include Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, Van Morrison, Nirvana and AC/DC.
What? They're not fans of, say, Kiss tribute bands?
Baby Animals' popularity continues to grow, especially in their native Land Down Under. The album debuted at #3 on the charts there, stayed in the Top 40 for about thirty weeks, and is back to #3 after a quick mini-tour of Australia following their work with Bryan Adams.
Not bad for musicians with a funny accent!