Suze DeMarchi was born in Perth in 1964 to parents Walter and Shirley DeMarchi, she was the youngest of four children and a self-confessed “rock chick”, with plenty of attitude, who liked Led Zeppelin and Free. Suze had a luminous, self-assured stage presence and at 17 performed with the covers band Photoplay, quickly moving on to the group The Kind, where she had a brief affair with Garvin Rossdale, lead singer of the band Bush, and a fling with Johnny Diesel, before heading to London in 1985 to pursue her career overseas.
EMI signed her to a contract and then mistakenly set about turning the sassy guitar-slinging vixen into a pop princess, she turned up in London where Australian manager John Woodruff (The Angels, Icehouse, Diesel, above) saw her perform some soft metal SAW songs and felt that her future lay in a harder pub-rocking genre, and he came on board as her manager.L-R below Parise, DeMarchi, Celenza, Leslie.
Once back in Australia the Baby Animals were formed in Perth and their classic lineup was Suze DeMarchi (vocals/guitar), Frank Celenza (drums), Dave Leslie (guitar) and Eddie Parise (bass), they were well regarded by other bands including the Angels, who invited them to tour. DeMarchi was a talented songwriter, some of her early songs indicated that she was prepared to share her most intimate moments, as the lyrics to her Early Warning reveal “I love you guys but why do you turn your backs when you get out of bed to put on your trousers”.
They were signed to BMG subsidiary Imago Records in 1990 and headed for the Bearsville Studio, Woodstock (NY) and Second City Studio, Long Island USA to record their debut album with the legendary Australian songwriter/producer Mike Chapman who with Nick Chinn had curated the careers of Susie Quatro, Sweet, Smokie, Racy and Mud and written/produced hits for Toni Basil, the Knack, Tina Turner and Blondie.
It was no surprise when Chapman and the band produced a great glam rock album, replete with catchy hooks, swaggering melodies, and the husky-voiced, brazen vocals of Suze DeMarchi, who had emerged as a Joan Jett/Suzie Quatro kick-ass-type of frontwoman.
The eponymous album roared into the charts and occupied #1 for six weeks, sold over 550,000 copies locally and stayed on the charts for 53 weeks, it was the highest-selling debut Australian rock album of all time, until it was eclipsed by Jet’s Get Born in 2003.
Early Warning was released as a single from the album in April 1991 and charted #16 nationally, it was soon followed by Rush You, a fast-paced rocker with great drums and bass intro and an anthemic chorus “I wouldn’t ever wanna rush you/ Don’t want to lose you/ I’d never fuss you/ But I love a love a love you.” It charted #28 and by this time it seemed that the most obvious song to be lifted off the album as a single had been overlooked. One Word was perfect for DeMarchi’s vocals, it was slightly more restrained with a subtle guitar intro, and great hook-laden chorus, but it seems that the sultry songstress didn’t particularly rate this power pop song and didn’t even want it included on the album.
Dave Leslie recalls hearing an early demo of this song when DeMarchi came back from the UK in 1989 and at the time felt that it had a country feel to it, and it reminded him of a song by British indie rock band Cornershop, who had a UK #1 hit with Brimful of Ashain 1988, a wistful fusion of Britpop, Indian music, and electro dance.
In its final form it became a bombastic rocker albeit with an acoustic guitar intro that created a false sense of security until things got reckless, Dave Leslie delivered serious guitar riffs and then the punchy chorus roared in and DeMarchi implored her lover to just communicate with her, ”One word, one letter, one line/ And I feel a whole lot better/ One look would say it’s alright/ And I’d feel a whole lot better.”
The band toured the US with Bryan Adams and then as support act on a Van Halen tour, their MTV videos were on high rotation, the cameras loved Suze, and they pushed their debut album to sales of 800,000, One Word charted #17 locally, and the band’s next album, Shaved and Dangerous,was eagerly- awaited.
To the band’s dismay, when their manager John Woodruff met the band at the Redfern Rehearsal Studios in December 1992, his description of the new album was profanely negative, the band were incensed, the album was issued and although it rose to #2 locally, sales stalled at 35,000, radio stations didn’t like the songs, there was no obvious lead single and the first one released, Don’t Tell Me What To Do, staggered to #25 and disappeared after 17 weeks. The band also struggled to promote the album as DeMarchi required throat surgery to remove nodes on her vocal chords, and tour dates had to be cancelled, the Baby Animals broke up in 1996.
DeMarchi subsequently married US guitarist Nuno Bettencourt (together above) of the Boston pop- rock band Extreme in 1994 in Azores (Portugal), and had two children Bebe (’02) and Lorenzo (’09), but were separated in 2009 and divorced in 2013.
Musically Suze released her debut solo album Telelove in 1999, which charted poorly, and in 2001 there was speculation that she would become the replacement lead singer for INXS, following the departure of Jon Stevens, but this was proven to be unfounded. The original band members reformed in 2007 and toured nationally, Celenza and Parise departed the band in 2009 and were replaced, and the band continued to tour on the heritage rock circuit. Below- Suze and her actor daughter Bebe who recently appeared in the Australian movie The Dry.