SUZI QUATRO (Interview)

Suzi Quatro
Photo: Tina Korhonen

The original leather clad Rocker is back. SUZI QUATRO broke down the doors and paved the way for everyone from The Runaways to Girlschool, inspiring generations of girls to don their leather and Rock shoulder to shoulder with the boys. Mick Burgess called up Suzi ahead of her forthcoming UK tour to chat about her killer new compilation featuring 20 tracks that she personally handpicked including all of the hits and deep album cuts. She also talks about her years on the road with KISS, Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy as well as her new project QSP with Sweet’s Andy Scott and Don Powell of Slade.

You have a new compilation out in a couple of weeks The Best of Suzi Quatro: The Legend. Are you excited ahead of its release?

Yes, yes and yes because I worked on it very closely with the record company. I didn’t just want to do another compilation, I wanted to make it something special. I was involved in it from start to finish and it’s got the hits and my favourite personal choices.

It must have been quite an experience to go back through your albums, listening to songs that maybe you hadn’t heard in years when you were deciding on what songs to choose?

I enjoyed it very much. I have a very large catalogue of songs. I’m a very prolific writer and it was very hard to whittle it down and I think I’m going to have to do another one after this as I couldn’t fit everything on that I wanted to. This is a good start.

How did you manage to whittle it down to 20?

I went through every album and pretty much everything that made it onto this album was everything that made it onto the stage from those albums which makes sense. I would have had more but it is a good start. 20 tracks is a nice number for a CD and a double album. Once I’d decided on the songs that was it, it stayed like that. I didn’t keep changing my mind. There’s some that I wish I could have made it but I’m happy with what I’ve chosen.

Did you see this as an opportunity to highlight you as a songwriter in your own right rather than just a performer?

Every album that I did highlighted my work as a songwriter as I’ve written the majority of the material on my albums. My fans know my work and I think that I’m a good writer. Some of my songs have been out as singles and some have been recorded by other people. I’m a prolific writer but I wanted to make this album personal and that’s why I did this.

It’s great to see songs like Skin Tight Skin on there. That’s a real smouldering track.

That’s such an unusual song. I don’t know where that came from. I wrote that with my ex-husband and we both went “What??” It’s good though.

Your own songs had a harder edge like Shine My Machine and to many are preferred to the obvious hits. Do you feel that they represent you more as an artist than the songs by the outside writers?

Mike Chapman always used to say that my songs were the meat of the album. That’s a real compliment and means a lot to me as a serious songwriter. I was always based in Rock right from the start. He and I had a great relationship right from the start and we still work together now.

How did you approach songwriting back then?

98% of the time I get a title. That suggests the tempo and that will suggest if I write it on guitar which I’m not so good at or piano, which I’m very good at. If I want a Rock song, I’ll go to the guitar or if I want a more musical song, I’ll go with the piano. If I just want the beat I might write it on the bass. Every song is different but I usually end up with a line that becomes the start of a verse or the start of a chorus. As a songwriter, I just open my channels and let everything flow. It can get noisy at times with all those channels open. I don’t question anything, I just listen and start. It’s a very organic process, I just love writing.

How much did working with songwriters like Chinn and Chapman develop you as a writer?

I learned how to craft a song in three minutes. They were disciplined in that way. I just tended to write what felt right but Mike would suggest something to make it better and I’d cut it down to 3 minutes.

How did they present their songs to you and did you have any input in how those songs developed?

They never ever brought me a song that wasn’t written specifically for me. They’d just fit me like a glove. Mike tended to bring a noisy guitar demo and then the band would put it together. It was very much a band process. Everybody would add their parts.

Shine My Machine is your tribute to your home town of Detroit. Detroit has such a huge musical legacy from Motown Records to Madonna, Alice Cooper, MC5 and Ted Nugent. KISS even penned a song “Detroit Rock City” as a tribute to the City. What is it about Detroit that has resulted in such a rich legacy?

Detroit is in my heart and soul. I can never get rid of it and I don’t want to get rid of it. There’s a feeling of putting your foot on the gas and going. You never get the level of energy from anywhere else than you get from Detroit bands. It has a great musical pedigree. I was talking to Ted Nugent a while back and I’ve known him for ever and the guys out of MC5 too and we all love our Heavy Rock but all we wanted to do was talk Motown. Although we were Rock acts some of their moves and flow came through in the DNA. We all loved it.

Will the album also include sleeve notes giving the background to the songs and the times they were written?

That’s all going to be on there. I’ve done commentary on all of the tracks. I like people buying my music to get the full picture. I’ve just put a poetry book out recently and on the right side is the poetry and on the left I explain my mindset, where I was and what I was doing when I wrote that poem. I’m that kind of person that will say, take what you want from it but I like to explain the process. It’s a coffee table book called Through My Eyes and I’m very proud of it. I’ve actually just put a novel out too called The Hurricane. I have a lot of things on the go at the moment.

What about an accompanying DVD? Are there any plans for one?

There will be a DVD at some point as I’ve been working on a documentary for 2 or 3 years now. Everyone and anyone is in it. It’s nearing completion and we just need to tie up a couple of people before it goes for editing and hopefully it’ll be out at the end of the year or early next year.

In October, you headline a UK arena tour, it’s been quite a while since you last toured the UK?

I haven’t toured here in a while so I’m absolutely looking forward to it. I’ve been getting some really great reviews recently and I’ll tell you, the old girl can still do it.

You toured over the years with such artists as Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper. How did performing with those artists help to shape your stagecraft?

We were all starting at the same time so we were all learning whatever we were learning at that time. It’s not like I looked up to them and thought I wanted to be like them. We were all at the same level, playing the same gigs and learning our craft.

Did you ever get to play with KISS?

KISS supported me on my first tour of America when I had just had my hits. They were on the bill with Blue Oyster Cult and they supported me in Detroit. They were MY supported group and I recently told Gene that and he cracked up and said that he remembered it well.

You’re currently involved in a project with Don Powell of Slade and Andy Scott of Sweet called QSP. How did this first come about?

Andy Scott produced my Back To The Drive album in 2006 and my husband said that there was something musically happening and wouldn’t that be a great combination. He then suggested Don Powell and I thought it was a great idea. A couple of years ago we all had the time so we just went and did it. It came together very quickly. Once we were in the studio we wrote songs and recorded those along with 8 covers. It’s just a fabulous album and is coming out late September/early October. It’s been out in Australia for a while and went Top 20 there so we’re excited for it to finally come out over in the UK. I think next time, as we’re writing together so well, we’ll have more originals on the album. With this one we were finding our feet.

Do you have any plans to play UK shows with QSP?

We all want to play over in the UK very badly. It’s definitely on the cards.

The Best Of Suzi Quatro: Legend” is released on 22nd September on Gold Coloured Double Vinyl, CD and Digital Formats. Pre-order via Pledge –

Suzi Quatro headlines the “Legends Live” Tour in October Further info:


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.