Baby Animals' Suze DeMarchi Covers Adele, The Clash on New Solo Album 'Home'
In the natural course of events, all baby animals grow up and go out on their own. With a new solo album in the bank, Suze DeMarchi is simply doing what nature intended.
The Australian rock goddess has released Home, a project created outside the familiar comradery of the band she has fronted on-and-off for more than two decades, Baby Animals.
A collection of works with a connecting theme (it's in the title), Home features works made famous by the likes of Adele, Ryan Adams, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Bastille and The Clash, and carries an original song written by Baby Animals drummer Mick Skelton (“Homeless”), her only bandmate to work on the recording.
On Home, DeMarchi has collaborated with some of Australia’s top rockers, from Jimmy Barnes to Tex Perkins, Russell Morris, Diesel and Social Family Records labelmate Dallas Frasca. Multiple ARIA Award winning producer and artist Shane Nicholson helped steered the project, which is released today (July 24) through digital channels. It's her first solo effort title since 1999’s Telelove.
DeMarchi is a rocker, a mom and a self-professed homebody. The beaches and red earth of her homeland are imbued in the texture of the new album, a mellow-rock set flecked with alt-country energies which has more in common with its inspiration, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Grammy-winning 2007 set Raising Sand than it does with any of the Baby Animals’ four slick-rock studio sets.
“Home means everything to me. It always really has. But it was also disorientating coming back,” she recalls. DeMarchi endured a heavy dose of emotional upheaval with her return “home” in 2009 following a half-lifetime living and working in some of the world’s great northern cities. The big kicker came when her 18-year marriage to guitar-star Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme dissolved. “Those first couple of years were pretty horrendous. Luckily I had my band and we were working a lot,” she says, “and I got my little home and place in Coogee (Sydney). Any marriage ending, that kind of thing is brutal. It was tough.”
DeMarchi has come out wiser, and fully healed from the experience. And she admits there’s nowhere she’d rather be than her new home Down Under. DeMarchi is still committed to the band with which she was propelled onto TV screens and into arenas around the world in the 1990s. Indeed, DeMarchi has toured Australia through the first half of the year with Baby Animals on the She Who Rocks tour. She still loves the stage. “It forces you to keep yourself in good shape when you’re not playing, because you’ve always got to be prepared,” she tells Billboard. “Nobody wants to see fat rock stars up there.” She’ll support her new solo effort with a string of tour dates in her homeland which have been announced for October. Additional shows may be unveiled in due course.
A covers collection was the album Suze felt compelled to make at this point in her career. "As a writer, it takes the pressure off. I used to have a drive to write all the time. Now I really need to feel like it, I need to have something to write about before I just sit there and let it go. My days are pretty full. It’s a real joy to record someone else’s stuff, something I like to listen to. It’s a relaxed way to do a project like this, it’s a nice process, and it’s not stressful." She admits tackling an Adele song was at first "terrifying." But there's nothing that scares this lady. "We haven’t embarrassed the songs or the artists, hopefully," she says with a laugh.
As the singer and face of a rock band, DeMarchi has described herself in the past as a "benevolent dictator". She once got into a fracas with Rolling Stone for slapping her face on the cover of the magazine -- and ignoring her fellow band members. “I just prefer being in a band. I never liked doing the solo thing so much. Maybe now that I’m older I might prefer it more.”
The Baby Animals enjoyed a string of hits with "Rush You," "Early Warning," "Painless" and others, though like countless recording artists before and since, their career was stifled by draw-out legal battles with their U.S. record company, Imago (“They own the first two Baby Animals records. They wouldn’t release us and they wouldn’t let us record. It took years to get released from them,” DeMarchi told Billboard in an earlier interview). The band's output was crippled as a result. A yawning gap of 15 years separated the sophomore album, Shaved and Dangerous (1993) and the third set, Il Grande Silenzio (2008).
This Baby Animal has some sage advice for artists working their way through the minefield that is the music business. “You can’t give your live money away. That can’t be a part of a record deal. Those 360-degree deals are bullshit. You live and learn, you go through the motions with people and musicians are notoriously hopeless at that. I’d like to write something about how not to get f---ed over in the industry. I’m at this ripe old age and I feel I know a lot more than I used to.”