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Interview: DAVE LESLIE (BABY ANIMALS)

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The release of Baby Animals’ independently produced CD, ‘This Is Not the End’, earlier this year, was long overdue. It had been far too long since their last studio album and the eagerly anticipated release was well worth the wait. The band embarked on a very short tour of major cities to showcase the songs from the album and to get reacquainted with the band we had come to know and love over 20 years ago. That brief run of shows only served to whet the appetite and now the band is back on the road with another tour, quaintly dubbed the Feeding the Birds tour. I caught up with guitarist Dave Leslie recently and had to ask the question… where does that name come from?

As Dave explains, the name comes from an incident at a Baby Animals gig. “There was some red wine on stage and I think that Suze might have partaken in a bit of it before the incident actually happened and she went over the audience barrier and dribbled some wine into the mouths of these girls down the front and they looked like little birds in a nest. It was more to make the band laugh than anything else. It was a bit of a lark. It was the funniest thing; probably not the most hygienic thing but funny, nonetheless. People have sort of heard about it and a lot of people shot it on their phone cameras at the time. I think it might have been at The Annandale and it became a bit of a ‘thing’

They will be supported on this tour by Steve Balbi and Ollie Brown is opening up for them on acoustic. “Steve’s got a full band,” says Dave “and he just released an album and Steve’s going to be playing stuff from that. He’s great too and what a voice! He’s awesome! I guess it’s hard to have your voice heard when you’ve got a singer like Jon Stevens in the band but put Steve out the front and he’s a great front man. It’s really cool that he’s out from behind the bass and he’s got the pipes to back it up.”

The set list on this tour is partly made up of songs that were voted for by their fans via the internet, allowing the band to include some numbers they rarely get to perform ‘live’. “There were a couple from Suze’s solo record,” says Dave, “which we don’t normally do in the Baby Animals’ set and a few from the second album ‘Shaved and Dangerous’ too so it was good. We were able to dust off a couple of old chestnuts and give them a bit of a run which was good.” The guitarist admits that he was surprised by some of the choices. “I was totally surprised because that means our audience has a pretty eclectic kind of taste. It’s not all just the classic Oz Rock sort of stuff. The band has always done varied types of material and I was glad to see that that some of the stuff with a more ambient kind of feel got a bit of a run as well.”

The album has really taken off since its release a few months ago and Dave couldn’t be more pleased with the response it has received to date. “We were stoked,” he tells me. “You just don’t know, before you release it. It is what it is. You’ve heard it a thousand times and it’s hard to know if you’ll like it. I mean, I love it, but it’s hard to know how it’s going to be perceived. It seems to have gone really well. It charted as an independent release. First week in, it cracked the Top 20 on ARIA which we were pretty surprised about. It’s given us an excuse to tour as well. If you don’t have anything new out, then you’re running on nostalgia. The band has been given a whole new lease of life, I guess.”

While ‘This is Not the End’ was basically penned by Dave and Suze, Dave thinks the other guys in the band will have more of an input into the next album. “We have been writing and I’ve got a little home studio set up and I’ve always got something cooking there. Suze has got a fair bit of stuff and we’re getting Dario and Mick into the writing process as well, which is good because they’re great players and they’ve got fantastic ideas and it would be crazy not to get them involved in it. You can’t have too many ideas, really.”

Of the tracks from the latest album, Dave thinks that their first single, ‘Email’ is one of the most popular songs to do ‘live’. “Probably because it was the flagship single,” he suggests. “But it’s one of those songs, you know. There’s a lot of energy in the room at that point. ‘Stitch’ is going over great. Another song called ‘Under Your Skin’, which we actually opened up with the other night, goes over really well. It’s got a lot of energy in it. ‘Under Your Skin’ was probably the one that was most surprising.”

Just seeing people sing along to the words of the new songs is a pretty good feeling, according to Dave. “That in itself is pretty much its own reward,” he says. “Even if they’re the wrong words, we don’t care; if they’re singing along.”

And then, there are those moments that kind of stand out. “When the band looks across at each other and everyone’s sounding great and we’re all playing well, and we’re all kind of in that ‘zone’, we have that thing called a ‘f*ck yeah!’ moment where I get goose bumps just thinking about it. That’s it. That’s the moment for me. All the shit that you have to go through to get to that point is absolutely worth it. It happens in most songs, I think, when it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It just has a life of its own; the ‘thing’, the music, whatever it is…I can’t describe it but it just becomes bigger than all of us and that’s awesome.”

by Sharyn Hamey

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved

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