Baby Animals' Guitarist on Comeback Tour & Live DVD

Baby Animals' Guitarist on Comeback Tour & Live DVD

2013 has been a huge year for guitarist Dave Leslie and his band Baby Animals, who just finished their ‘Feed the Birds’ tour across the country.

Their final show in Sydney was filmed for the band’s first live DVD, and earlier this year the band released their first studio album in 20 years, This Is Not The End.

‘Feed the Birds’ was not named after an album or song, but instead refers to the tradition of frontwoman Suze DeMarchi taking a mouthful of fine wine and “feeding” it to fans in the crowd.

“I think it was a bit of a boozy night,” Dave recalled, “Suze was drinking wine on stage...just seemed like a funny thing to do at the time.”

They had a laugh about it on the way home, and then the word spread on the net. Girls in the front row at a subsequent show prompted Suze to do it again.

“It just became this thing,” he explained, “and we thought it would be a novel way to name the tour”.

If you live outside the major cities and missed the ‘Feed the Birds’ tour the first time round, then you’re in luck, as the band just announced ‘Feed the Birds Part II’. There are hungry mouths to feed!

If you’ve never heard of the Baby Animals before then you might be curious about the name. It seems to be the same burning question it was two decades ago.

“Sometimes back in the day we got asked the same questions a lot of times so we made up answers on the spot and read it in the press and have a bit of a giggle.”

People would say stuff like 'I love the juxtaposition of the innocence of the baby, and the threatening of the animal!', but the real story behind the band's name isn't that deep and meaningful. The name came from a calendar - with baby animals on it.

“We already had a gig booked and didn’t have a name. I can’t believe we couldn’t have thought of a better name than that.”

Dave hopes that there won’t be such a long wait for the next album, which they have already started writing. They will have to save up some money though, as the band now functions independently.

“We went for a smaller label. We paid for it all. We own it all. Back in the day the big labels got their marketing departments, they got their art departments. These days we have to call favours from people to get artwork done and photos.”

“We’re in the driver’s seat of it, which has been really good! The downside is that you’re also responsible for it.”

Social networking is their way around a lack of radio play, which the major labels used to push.

“We have a really hard time with radio man. They claim that they’ve changed their format, so our music no longer fits in their format. Yet they still play the old stuff. I don’t know why one album would not be in a format and another album would be.”

The band was brought together by a love of similar kinds of music. Dave grew up on diet of mostly English rock acts from the '60s and '70's such as Hendrix, Zeppelin, Cream, and Mick Ronson.

During that period there was a popular music program on the ABC called GTK. Aussie rock legend Billy Thorpe was on screen playing with his Les Paul, his Marshall and his long hair, and Dave just knew he wanted to get some of that.

Some of us are lucky enough to meet those that inspire us, but Dave had the privilege of playing with Thorpe a couple of times, and didn’t hold back with the flattery.

“You’re the guy!” he said to his idol, “that was the moment! You’re the one responsible for this shit!”

Another band he liked was Status Quo - well before the Coles advertisement. A defining moment for him was meeting the band at an airport in Ireland.

“It was a life changer. It was like ‘Wow man! They’re real?! They’re not cartoon characters?!' It was cool! Mum and myself went up to chat to them and they were really nice people. Stuff like that sticks with you”.

Dave’s an old school guy, preferring to listen to music recorded on tape, as opposed to digital.

“I can’t stand modern pop music, I can’t stand that sort of stuff that sounds like it’s paid by numbers, or made in some sausage factory studio. I prefer music that’s played by people.”

While he has a selective taste in music, Dave is not the kind of person who takes his career or the fans for granted.

“We’re really enjoying this run, this opportunity of recording and playing to people. There are a lot of people we remember from 20 years ago... I spoke to a bloke the other night that brought his kid and he said, ‘I met his mum at one of your gigs’. It sure puts a perspective on things.”

Dave invited me backstage after their Melbourne gig, which gave me the rare opportunity to ask Suze the question everyone wants to know, which is, "How on earth does she not age?!"

Seriously, check out the band’s first music video released two decades ago below, and you’ll find that she looks exactly the same today.

At any rate, Suze responded that not even she knows the secret, so I guess it will forever remain a rock n' roll mystery.

Baby Animals 'Feed The Animals II' National Tour

Saturday, 8th February 2014
A Day On The Green, Annie’s Lane, Clare Valley SA

Saturday, 15th February 2014
A Day On The Green, Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley VIC

Friday, 28th February 2014
Club Sapphire, Merimbula NSW

Saturday, 1st March 2014
Waves Nightclub, Wollongong NSW

Friday, 7th March 2014
Plantation Hotel, Coffs Harbour NSW

Saturday, 8th March 2014
United Services Club, Laurieton NSW

Friday, 14th March 2014
Eaton Hills Hotel, North Brisbane

Saturday, 15th March 2014
Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast

Friday, 21st March 2014
Kinross Woolshed, Albury NSW

Saturday, 22nd March 2014
Soldiers Club, Batemans Bay NSW

Friday, 28th March 2014
Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill NSW

Saturday, 29th March 2014
Revesby Workers Club, Revesby NSW

Friday, 4th April 2014
Racehorse Hotel, Ipswich QLD

Saturday, 5th April 2014
Alexandra Hills Hotel, East Brisbane

Friday, 11th April 2014
Dee Why RSL, Dee Why NSW

Saturday, 12th April 2014
Belmont 16s, Belmont NSW
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