No Control: An Interview with Suzi Quatro
Suzi Quatro has been rocking for over five decades. Hailed as the first female bassist to become a major rock star, she scored hits in the 1970s with songs like “Can the Can,” “Devil Gate Drive,” “Stumblin’ In” and more. This year she’s here to let you know she’s not slowing down.
The Detroit-born bassist has just released a new album called No Control, which contains a variety of rock, blues, and Latin influences. Quatro wrote the album with her son from her first marriage, Richard Tuckey. That’s a natural fit for her since her beginnings in music revolved around family.
We caught up with Quatro to get the scoop on the new album, her love of touring, and why she doesn’t focus on gender.
As a pioneer of female rockers, what kind of obstacles did you face early in your career?
To be honest, not a lot. My father was a musician and raised us all in the industry. I never thought about being a ‘female’ rocker. I was just who I was. I never did, and still, don’t do gender.
Family seems to be an important part of your musical career. What was it like writing these songs with your son?
Yes, family has always been important. Starting with my own upbringing, starting the first band with one of my sisters at age 14, then coming to England, forming an English band, and marrying my guitarist. (Divorced since 91, and remarried to Rainer Haas since 93; 26 years now) So, then finally to my son, who is an excellent guitar player and really, really wanted to write with me. He was ready and I was ready. What a wonderful heartwarming collaboration it has been.
What is your songwriting process like?
I am very organic. I like everything to be real and to flow. Every lyric is important to me. I am a truth person. When you start the song, it has a feeling and a reason for being there. I just follow the path.
No Control has a pretty wide variety of styles. Where do those influences come from for you?
I have been in the business for 55 years as a professional [and] longer than that being raised on my father’s music. I feel like I have been around the block and back again.
Back home, in a way, but with everything I have gathered on my travels. This is where the variety comes from. Also, I produced myself so nobody put any creative restraints on me. I was able to truly fly and it has been a wonderful experience.
What artists or genres have you been listening to recently?
I listen to everything. I love Ed Sheeran, he is a truly gifted writer. I am working on songs with KT Tunstall, we have written 3 together and have recorded them and will do some more. I also like Adele and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What kind of bass gear are you using these days?
I am using a double stack Orange system, but sometimes Ampeg if Orange is not available overseas. I prefer a Fender Precision but onstage go with Fender Jazz just because the end of the neck is a little smaller, which helps during bass solos.
You have a pretty massive tour coming up. Do you still enjoy touring? What do you do to prepare?
I have been on the road nonstop this year. We just finished a 10-date headlining festival tour of Australia [that was] all sold out. Now [I’m] about to begin headlining a UK Arena tour April 4-14, then my sit down 2-hour solo shows in Europe. I LOVE what I do, otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. I was put on this earth to entertain. I prepare by staying fit. Being on stage is like an aerobic workout. With a heavy bass guitar, leather, hot lights, and jogging around the stage singing… boy you better be fit. Also, I never do a show without doing a vocal warm-up.
What advice do you have for up and coming bassists?
Learn to ‘hear’ bass notes first. Listen to some good examples: Jamerson and the 60’s Motown funk brothers, Carol Kaye, Canned Heat… The bass and drums are the engine that drives the song: nothing is more important. And if you tried guitar and failed, the bass is not for you. You will always play it like a guitarist, which is NOT what the bass is. Feel the touch of your fingers against the strings and let the bass go through you. It should be natural.
Suzi Quatro 2019 Tour Dates:
|First Direct Arena
|Metro Radio Arena
|The SSE Arena
|Theater am Aegi
|Sydney Cruise “Rock The Boat”
|West End Hotel Arena
|The Star Theatre