The rock icon tells AQ that she “dug down deep” for her 18th studio release
Nearly 50 years after her self-titled debut album, Suzi Quatro’s latest release, The Devil in Me, proves that at 70 years old, she is as vibrant and creative as ever. A trailblazer for women in music, she was the first female rock star to front her own band, singing and playing bass as well as writing her own material. Quatro has proven she has both talent and determination, which both came into play when writing and recording The Devil in Me despite these challenging COVID times.
“I’m a working artist – I’m usually on the road,” Quatro says, calling from her home in England, “but once I knew that this [pandemic] was happening… I’m a ‘glass half full’ person and I said, ‘Let’s just do the album. We couldn’t have done it before; we can do it now.’ I just found it to be extremely creative. It’s wonderful. I’m discovering stuff in myself. I’m discovering stuff in other people. I’m working out priorities…. So I actually love it. It’s a very creative time. [Y]ou can turn a negative into a positive.”
Quatro collaborated on creating The Devil in Me with her son, Richard Tuckey, with whom she also worked on her last album, 2019’s No Control. Quatro says it’s what makes the music so unique. “There’s no fillers on here,” she says. “I’ve dug down deep. My son has dug down deep. He’s brought his thirty-six-year-old energy to the table with his generation of music – and as long as he’s had a memory, he’s watched me onstage be Suzi Quatro. And I’ve brought my 57 years in the business and my life experience. It’s worked because I gave birth to Richard, and he has given rebirth to me… and that’s amazing, isn’t it?”
When writing songs, Quatro says “I try not to give myself any rules, any particular areas that I can’t go or any areas that I should go. I leave everything wide open and I let the song come to me. That’s how I’ve always worked. I trust my creative instincts and my own way of getting there as being okay.”
At just fourteen years old, Quatro formed a band with her sisters called The Pleasure Seekers. They released a handful of singles starting in 1968, which were well-received, and led to tours around the country. By the early ‘70s, though, Quatro realized that she and her sisters had different musical visions, so she struck out on her own, moving to England in 1971 and forming her own band.
“I was always a square peg in a round hole,” Quatro says. “Never fit anywhere. Which is why I had to find my own niche. Nobody told me to act a certain way, play a certain way, sing a certain way. Because I didn’t fit anywhere, I found my own place to fit. You create your own thing and nobody can take it away from you. I found my own voice and I kept it.”
Quatro’s unique sound and attitude quickly brought her success overseas. She released her self-titled debut album in 1973, then soon began hitting the charts in Europe and Australia with edgy rock singles such as “Can the Can,” “48 Crash,” and “Devil Gate Drive.” Even now, she remains a high-profile star outside of the United States. She routinely packs arenas with fans eager to hear the hits, songs that Quatro says she never gets tired of playing.
“Let’s say I start one of my big hits and the audience erupts – how can you ever possibly get tired of that? To me, it’s exciting. That’s something I created, and look at the reaction. I love it. I believe in giving everything I’ve got to every single audience, and never taking it for granted. That’s my work ethic. That’s what I was taught and that’s what I do. And I never get tired of it.”
Quatro has lived in Europe for 50 years now, dividing her time between England and Germany. Still, her Detroit roots are evident in her music and attitude. “You cannot take Detroit out of you. It’s in there for good,” she says. “There’s an edge in Detroit. There’s an electric current that you can feel. I think every artist that has come out of Detroit has that electricity.” On The Devil in Me, Quatro pays homage to her hometown on the track “Motor City Riders.”
Another track on The Devil in Me, “Isolation Blues,” is exactly as its title suggests: a lament about the restrictions the pandemic has placed on us all. But that will change for Quatro, as an extensive European tour will see her back on stages through the end of 2021. “I’ll be glad when the gigs start because I miss that,” she says. “My bags are packed, my bass is in tune, and I’m ready!”
It’s hard to imagine Suzi Quatro ever not being ready to bring her devil inside back out on the road.