By Arne Sjostedt
When Ella Hooper from Killing Heidi caught up with Rock City Jester to talk about an upcoming tour with Suzie DeMarchi and her Baby Animals, the world hadn’t been shocked.
Set to be a massive rock explosion fuelled by the fires of two of this country’s most celebrated rock queens, we now sadly lay that tour to rest. But fear not, her interview lives on for rock perpetuity in the annuals of the Jester.
Talking from her home in Shepparton, on the anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Day speech, Hooper was gracious enough to dive into her thoughts about the changing face of the rock landscape, and life hanging out with DeMarchi.
“Suzie is just a wonderful unique person. She absolutely marches to the beat of her own drum,” Hooper says. “She is so useful in her approach to life. She’s got so much sass.”
And no doubt there is plenty for us to learn by just showing up to see their bands deliver the grace and musical redemption their wealth of experience offers.
”I love flying that flag of two powerful woman who are sort of in their prime now. Yes we’ve had past success, but we’ve definitely both feel like we are fully in control now. And that just feels amazing,” she says. “We’ve both done it our way and we’ve come out ok. We’ve come out pretty much intact, unscathed. It feels like we are both really reclaiming this thing that we made for ourselves, and then perhaps let go in our own ways. I did other things for a few years, and now we realise that we’ve built these brands. I don’t like the word brand, but it’s more than a band. It’s a message, and it’s an energy,” she says.
Explaining how they originally met, “I was doing something for Music Max up in Sydney,” she says. “I don’t know if she knew who I was. Suzie was mainly living overseas when Killing Heidi had its first wave. We just connected and I fan girled out a little bit. And then it was years and years until i saw her again, and honestly that was at a Killing Heidi, Baby Animals show.”
Checking back through the pages of Australian music history, it’s clear these two are among our greatest treasures, and share something not very many people get to go through.
“It’s a real honour. I think it’s something that we have both experienced, and it’s maybe another reason why we both connected,” Hopper says of the kind of fame that saw her swept up into Hollywood and blasted across the world’s TV screens.
“We do have a lot in common. We’ve both been in bands that have blown up at certain times, and being a woman in that situation. And I think it’s very different pre-internet too. Blowing up meant a really different thing in the 90’s and 80's than it does now.”
No stranger to massive media junkets, and all the pre internet file sharing music world had to offer its elite acts, while our festivals keep that touring, rock experience alive and kicking, Hooper feels rock life has changed. “The business, the bands, the back stage culture, it was all very different back then. It was a lot more rock and roll,” she says.
“It is a slightly different generation. And they are slightly more bass ass,” she says of the age that gave birth to the Baby Animals, and all that surrounded them. “They just don’t give a shit. They will give it to you raw and slamming. And it is just a thing to behold. I almost feel like if you don’t catch this now, you’ll never catch it again.”
Talking from first hand experience, witnessing DeMarchi loosen off all those little bow ties like a unique soultress, “They might be one of the last of the ones who are doing it. I’m not trying to be ageist here, but there are lots of dudes still doing it into their 60’s and 70’s and giving the people what they want, like The Angels, and stuff like that, but Baby Animals have still got the edge. They present you something as though it was the 80’s or 90’s, as though they still feel as if they are in their heyday.”
Saying that she feels lucky to be able to look on and hopefully carry that torch, for Hooper a joy of the job has been being in close quarters with DeMarchi and her crew, sharing stories and soaking in the rock gold.
“It’s not like we stay up all night together overnight smoking and carrying on. Its a bit more mature these days. But we have got to know each other. Suzie is just a wonderful unique person,” she says.