A chat with the queen of rock: Suzi Quatro

September 7, 2017

Suzi Quatro is a busy woman. She is still headlining arenas, releasing books, new music and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She is about to release a more personal compilation of her discography titled Legend. I caught up with the original rock chick to hear more.

Why did you choose to release a Best Of this year?

My entire catalogue has just been taken over by a new company so we decided to work through things and bring the tracks out. So, I said that this tour is a perfect opportunity to release a new compilation with new thought behind it. Re-master it. Make it special. Legend has got ten of the hits plus ten of my own personal choices from my extensive back catalogue of all the stuff I’ve written. That was hard to do by the way!

I can imagine! How did you choose?

Really hard because I have ten albums. Most of the albums I write myself so it’s a huge back catalogue. Except for the track ‘Hollywood’, every other track I’ve chosen has been played live on stage. I didn’t know I was doing that till I looked back at it. So now if there’s a Legend 2, I’d pick different songs for different reasons. I guess these ones leapt out at me because I did do them live.

I know lyrics mean a lot to you. Is there any here that you’re most proud of?

Well, I don’t write fiction so I’m always proud of my lyrics. I always go deep into lyrics when I write. They mean a lot to me like you just said. ‘Cat Size’- I like that one because it’s about Detroit. ‘Suicide’ is an interesting one. That’s funny because I saw a headline in a paper and it said ‘I’m a prisoner on 72nd Street’. It was a John Lennon article and then he died that way. It was so weird that I wrote a story about that being a prisoner there and then that… it was a bit of a weird one.

‘Free The Butterfly’ is very important to me. I was planning on divorcing my husband… my ex husband now. It wasn’t an easy thing to try and say so I wrote the song to say it. It affects people that song. It’s a goodbye but it’s a hopeful goodbye.

Did your ex husband ever comment?

Oh yeah, I brought it downstairs and I played it to him. I was playing it as my message to him. And bless him, all he said was “nice song Suz”. I did think he got it but I don’t think he wanted to acknowledge it. He’s not insensitive; he would have understood the message. But obviously didn’t want to dwell on it.

You’ve also just released a book on poetry. Do you have any favourite poets?

I like Shakespeare’s stuff. I like a lot of random poets. I don’t tend to go for a certain author or poet, I go for the poem. When I was in Australia during my last, difficult and emotional tour with my ex… and we split up pretty soon after that so life was tough. When you’re nearing the end of it, it’s real and everyone is on edge. I found a book shop in Melbourne. I wandered in there and I found these scented poetry books and they just answered my turmoil. I just used to ride in the car to gigs and read from them. So you could say the written word is extremely important to me. It helps me through.

I hope that my poetry and my songs do the same for other people. I know that I’ve had songs like ‘Free The Butterfly’ that have people in tears over that.

Quatro, Scott and Powell which is myself, Scott the original guitar player from Sweet and the original drummer from Slade- we formed a super group. We had an album out in Australia while we were on tour. It went to number 20 and now it’s coming out everywhere else in September and the album is called QSP. The reason I’m saying this is because I wrote a song with Andy Scott called ‘Pain’. People were coming into the studio while we were recording it and crying- one of these really poignant messages.

And my poems, I get loads of people saying, is that about me? Which means, I’m touching them. Which means it strikes a chord. I’m an artist- that’s what you want your creations to do- to touch people. That’s the whole reason you do it.

Just to go back to the scented poetry. What scent would Legend have out of interest?

I would say, Lavender. I don’t know where that came from…

Well, I heard you’re a bit psychic aren’t you?

Yeah, I like to put it that way. Being an artist, all my channels are wide open. I don’t want to close the channels. It makes you easily hurt, sensitive and everything’s open. As an artist you don’t really have any other choice.

Do you think that’s influenced your decision when picking these songs?

Yeah, everything I do comes from a deep emotional place. It’s who I am. I hurt very easily and I feel everything to a meticulous degree. It makes me an artist. It just goes with the turf.

Does that make you more decisive too?

It depends on what the situation is. I have instincts that I trust unfathomably. So if I feel something, that’s what I act on. I don’t have the ability to bullshit or to lie. If you ask me a question, I’ll give you the answer. You might not always like it but I’m straightforward that way. I trust my instincts. I believe in what I’m doing and I trust that.

And I also wanted to ask you something about that’s very prevalent in today’s media. You’ve said you don’t associate yourself with any gender?

No I never have and I still don’t now. I’ve never had a time in my life where I thought to myself, oh I can’t do that because I’m a woman. I just never have. Maybe besides going into a urinal….

Hahaha! Well they do want to make more bathrooms gender-neutral…

I think it should be an individual choice. I’m not the one that’s preaching anything to anybody. For me, it was important that I felt that way. I was the first successful female rock ‘n’ roll musician because I didn’t do gender. That’s why it happened. I think everybody needs to make their own choices. I don’t think you should take away femininity and masculinity. I still believe that people are different. I just think whatever sex you are shouldn’t prevent you from realising your dream. There’s a difference there. I do love men and I do love women. I think the two are wonderful separate entities. It just shouldn’t hinder you.

Do you listen to any new music?

Yes, because I have a 16-year-old granddaughter and she keeps me up to speed. I think my favourite one at the moment is Ed Sheeran. It’s so strange because I don’t know his entire catalogue but every time I’m riding in the car with her, she’ll be switching from radio station to radio station. Then she’ll stop on a song and I’ll go, who’s that? And she’ll say, grandma.. it’s Ed Sheeran. Every time! So I guess I have to say I like him. She gets fed up with telling me.

Would you consider a duet?

I would love to do one with him! Actually, I am doing a duet with KT Tunstall. We’re writing a few songs together at the moment. We’re both fans of each other, which makes it really nice.

Are you still an Elvis fan?

Huge. In fact, I just completed a gig last weekend near Frankfurt, where he was stationed during the army. And there was a big Elvis festival there. I did five songs. One was my tribute to Elvis called ‘Singing With Angels’ which is very important. And that was recorded in Nashville. I’ve always had this tradition every album to record an Elvis track. I’ve loved him since I was six years old.

I noticed that you didn’t include a cover in Legend?

No, I chose songs I wrote myself. That’s what I wanted to do for this one. It’s a more personal thing.

Before I let you go… I have one thing I’m dying to hear more about. I read that you did a séance to bring back Janis Joplin?

Oh my god, where did you get that from? We were sitting around bored in a hotel room and we decided to bring somebody back. You’re just sitting there with a bunch of people, you know? I didn’t like it! You know when you’re just playing around with stuff and you’re just having fun. Oh I didn’t like it at all.

Did anything happen?

There were a few sorts of things swishing about and I didn’t like it. I thought this is not something to play with. It got to that stage and I was like ah ok! Turn the lights on, get me out of here. It started as something fun but ended as something serious and I wouldn’t do it again. None of us knows that area. You shouldn’t mess with it. I would not recommend anyone doing that for fun or otherwise.



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