Susan's Room is built around the songs and voice of Susan Anders.
Susan grew up in Berkeley, CA, where they take seriously the notion that the unexamined life isn't worth living. She started playing guitar and writing her analytical songs at age eleven. Degrees in music and performance art from UC Santa Cruz and SF State complimented her main songwriting influences at the time: Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, and Smokey Robinson. Susan's post-college musical resume includes everything from fronting the rock band Slantstep to singing telegrams dressed as a table; from singing Motown in Mexican restaurants to teaching doo-wop to Zen Buddhists.
Lured by the burgeoning coffeehouse scene, she moved to Los Angeles in 1991, where she soon connected with former Youngstown Ohioan Tom Manche. Tom wore several hats: guitar slinger/teacher, songwriter, and producer-engineer at his own place, Studio X. He heard Susan's demo and promptly offered her a load of free studio time. Within a year they recorded and released their first album as Susan's Room, on Zanna Discs. Its treatment of Susan's off-kilter, lyric-driven songs garnered great reviews and was heard on over 150 radio stations nationwide. Bass and drum chores on the first album were ably handled by Bruce Linde and Danny Frankel, respectively. Since Susan's old friend Bruce was still living in Oakland and Danny promptly moved to New York to play with Lou Reed, a new, geographically desirable rhythm section was needed.
Susan met bassist Ritt Henn when they both played at a coffeehouse in Northridge and started chatting about books. She'd actually met him once before: Tom took her to see Ritt's solo act on their first date. Ritt attended the monthly salons that Tom and Susan started as an antidote to the Hollywood scene: talking about something other than oneself. Soon after he joined Susan's Room.
Albe Bonacci had played in numerous bands in LA since relocating from Salt Lake City, where he had been voted "Best Drummer in Utah" in 1990
and 1991. Tom met Albe when he was playing in a band with Tom's pal Bradley Royds. When that group fizzled, Susan and Tom lured him to join Susan's Room with promises of fame, fortune, chips and beer. Albe and Ritt joined Susan and Tom for the second album, Lion in the Living Room, which also received critical praise and national radio airplay. Around that time Susan and Tom tied the knot.
Susan's Room released three more albums after Lion In The Living Room, the sparse Thinner, and its more raucous sibling, Thicker, and the veering from sparse to raucous last release Room #5 In the new century Susan's Room parted and spread across the US to continue their musical lives in new locales: Tom and Susan moved to Nashville, TN, Ritt moved to NY, and Albe stayed in LA.
Our Favorite Review Soundbites
"A soulful, commanding voice."
''How come Susan Anders isn't a household name? She's
a wonderful singer, an amazing songwriter, and just plain all-'round fine
East Bay Express
''Hell-on-wheels bluesy wailing alto''
"This excellent songwriter takes the expressive range and private mythology of Nyro's pop-soul sound and adds lyrical precision and a tougher, more humorous delivery."
about the first album:
''Excellent...strong, arrow-pure vocals and evocative
''Analytical, introspective, often witty tunes.''
Cleveland Free Times
about Lion in the Living Room:
"Lion in the Living Room is one of the cleverest acoustic
recordings I've heard in quite some time...a fun, fascinating recording"
about Thicker & Thinner:
Out & About
"Catchy acoustic pop with wickedly clever lyrics...
a thoroughly satisfying second album"
"There are all kinds of wonderful twists and turns in Lion in the
Living Room by Susan's Room. The keen, unpretentious lyrics are
matched with an equally earthy style of acoustic rock."
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
"Both are loaded with wonderfully clever and thoughtful songs, all brought to life by Susan's expressive voice. This is music for adults: smart, witty, and insightful, all perfectly arranged and performed."
about Room #5:
"She takes listeners to realms that sound more like movies than songs.
Larry Kelp, KPFA
"On Room #5, Tom Manche, Albe Bonacci, and Ritt Henn give their all behind the voice that should be a star by now."