Singer, Actress, One-Woman Show: Suze Lanier-Bramlett Does It All
If there’s one word to sum up Suze Lanier-Bramlett, it’s “busy!” The multi-talented singer/actress just landed an acting role is in David Rountree’s horror film “Cut!,” currently in post-production and scheduled for a Halloween 2012 release. In “Cut!” Suze portrays herself: Susan Lanier, star of the original horror classic “The Hills Have Eyes,” only now grown up and playing a successful horror film director. “Cut” contains a scene from Suze’s real-life, one-woman nightclub show performed frequently in LA clubs entitled “Swamp Cabaret” featuring Suze and her band performing “On The Way To Woodstock,” a cut from her newly released CD, “Swamp Cabaret.” Suze is currently in the studio wrapping recording of her new single, “Angel In The Night,” a composition penned by Suze and her late husband, rock/blues legend, Delaney Bramlett. Magnolia Gold Records has scheduled a late April release for the single. “Angel In The Night” was written on December 8, 1980 by Delaney & Suze, the night that John Lennon was murdered as a tribute to the love shared by John & Yoko. Lanier-Bramlett is also working on her first music video for You Tube featuring her song, “Soup Kitchen.” The video and song addresses today’s poverty and homelessness – issues that Suze is passionate about – and is dedicated to the 80,000 homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles on any given day. All Access Magazine (AAM) recently chatted with Suze Lanier-Bramlett (SLB).
All Access Magazine (AAM) : What are you currently working on?
SLB: Where do I start? I’ve been recording some new tunes, including working with Randy Sharp and MJ Denton on my new single, “Angel In The Night,” which I wrote with my late husband, Delaney Bramlett, on December 8, 1980, the night that John Lennon was murdered. It was a night filled with grief and disbelief. We stayed up all night and wrote this song. Delaney and I both cut demos on it years ago, but it was never released before. The old tracks are dated, and I decided to re-do it and put it out there and see what happens. I’m also trying to finish a music video for You Tube. I’ve gotten a great response on my song, “Soup Kitchen” (co-written with Ron Finn) from my new CD “Swamp Cabaret,” and I thought it would make a cool video. The song addresses the challenges of our bad economy and homelessness, and I hope it will have some impact and that fans appreciate the theme. It is dedicated to the over 80,000 people who live in the streets of LA on any given day. “Soup Kitchen” is a blues song and has been getting nice airplay both in the states and in Europe. Everyone keeps asking me for a You Tube presence, and these days it’s a necessity. So, I’m finally putting one up. I’m working on a shoestring budget so I did the still photography myself and got a friend to shoot the rest of it.
AAM: You are both a working actress and a recording artist/musician. How do you find an equal balance of working between the two, and does one or the other ever suffer as a result?
SLB: I let the universe dictate what I’ll be working on in the moment. I had an audition this week for a film, and after it was over, I went straight over to the recording studio to work on my music. I love doing both. They don’t seem to conflict with each other as much as they seem to compliment the other. I just did a film called, “Cut”, scheduled for a Halloween, Oct. 2012 release. The director, David Rountree, decided to include a scene with my band performing at the M Bar in Hollywood into the movie which I am already acting in. He decided to make that a part of my character and a part of the plot of the film, which was really cool. One of the writers and stars of the film, David Banks, is also a “real life” musician and in a band, himself, and I think he is a wonderful actor that will do very well in the business. I find that artists in general often overlap into other art forms besides the one they are most respected in. For instance, Bob Dylan is not only one of my favorite musicians of all time, he also enjoys painting and has done acting, as well. Over the years, I have also worked professionally as a photographer. I have photographed a number of album covers for known and unknown musicians. I still love to shoot and just finished a photo session recently for the blues group, “The Scorch Sisters.”
AAM: Having been married to the late, great Delaney Bramlett, what did you learn from him about the art of making music as well as about the music business itself?
SLB: Everything! Delaney was a perfectionist, especially with the music. He was completely and totally devoted to it. He lived it; he breathed it; he loved it. I was truly blessed and lucky to have known him and to have written with him and watched him work. Delaney was much more involved with being in the studio and creating music than with the “music business” itself, which seems to be in constant flux and change these days. Delaney was brilliant and amazing to watch and to learn from in the studio. He was a brilliant songwriter and he could express himself and his feelings in the most unique way. Before he passed, he loved the social networking on the computer and connecting with his fans and music friends. He learned the technological changes quickly like Pro Tools, etc., but in terms of his own music, continued to prefer the rawness of the analog sound.
AAM: How about telling at least one juicy behind-the-scenes story…
SLB: There are SO MANY juicy stories, but probably the best story is how Delaney and I met. In 1977, he had seen the “The Hills Have Eyes” at a drive-in theatre (so sorry those aren’t around anymore; they were so much fun). He was with a girlfriend, and as he was watching me run around the screen, screaming, etc., he said to her, “I’m gonna marry that girl”…meaning me, the actress. Delaney was always funny and I’m sure just making a joke. The very next night, Delaney’s trumpet player, Darrell Leonard and his wife, Lynde, invited me to go hear Delaney and his band play at the Troubadour in Hollywood. I went and met Delaney in the hallway of the club. He looked at me and his first words were, “I’m gonna marry you; give me your phone number…” The rest is history.
AAM: This year marks the 35th anniversary of the cult classic film you starred in, “The Hills Have Eyes.” What are your thoughts about that film, looking back?
SLB: My agent had wanted me to turn it down. He did not like the script. But, I liked it, and I particularly liked Wes Craven and decided to do it. It was truly a life “path-changing” experience. Not really from an acting stand point, even though there’s often a very cool “Hills Have Eyes” thing going on from time to time, but truly I don’t think I would have met Delaney had I not done that movie. Love is much more important that an “acting” career, especially reflecting back at this age. Show business is fleeting and comes and goes with everyone, no matter how big you get. Love is forever. Eternal!
AAM: Let’s switch gears and talk about your recent CD release, Swamp Cabaret. Why the title and what kind of sound were you striving for when you made this record?
SLB: I’m a storyteller; an entertainer; a songwriter. I’m not trying to be the world’s greatest vocalist. That’s not going to happen. I’m originally from Dallas and spent a lot of my childhood in East Texas, near Louisiana. I love that “swampy” Southern sound (different from country music), even though my CD contains some overlapping with country. I moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan when I was seventeen, to pursue my passion for the theatre. The CD contains elements of both Southern roots and New York theatre. That was my goal, and I think and hope I accomplished that. The CD is the soundtrack to my one-woman show (to which I have recently integrated visuals). I take the audience on a journey of my life, including both the ups and downs of it…and believe me; there’s been plenty of both. I do some stand-up comedy in the show, along with having a killer band. I hope listeners experience the same thing with the CD.
AAM: Being you’ve “been there, done that,” what kind of advice might you have for a young starlet-to-be or musician about how to approach the business?
SLB: The game has changed so much since I started in the business. I see so many young people just wanting to be “famous” these days, giving little or no thought to the art of it all. And it’s easier to actually achieve “fame” through all the social networking and Reality TV. But in the end, I believe that talent really will win out. I’m thrilled to be seeing shows like “Glee” and “Smash” on the air. There are so many really talented actors in these shows, who not only act, but are great dancers and singers. I’m originally from Dallas via New York City. And class was just a given. We worked hard and long hours studying acting, dancing, singing and worked in theatre. We trained to make it look easy. But it’s not easy. It’s really hard work. I try to tell that to young people I meet who say they want to do it. The business (music or acting) is not for sissies. There is so much rejection and disappointments along the way.
AAM: What are your immediate goals and aspirations for 2012?
SLB: There’s been talk of another film with David Rountree which would be great. I’m also getting “Swamp Cabaret,” the show, ready for an East Coast tour, hopefully opening by the Fall in New York. I’d like to release another CD by early 2013, so I’ll be spending a lot of time in the studio. So for now, all of that is keeping me really busy. I post all the updates on my website: www.suzelanierbramlett.com. I also Facebook and Tweet, so feel free to connect with me. “Swamp Cabaret” is available on ITunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.com.