MEOW Con: Suzi Quatro
‘Stumblin’ In’ from the Motor City to music history
By William Harries Graham, 1:27PM, Thu. Oct. 24
I’ve been a fan of Suzi Quatro’s since I was knee high, watching reruns of Happy Days featuring the Detroit-born rocker as Leather Tuscadero. Her hits “Rock Hard” and “Stumblin’ In” are regular spins on my iPod. Quatro sings the latter Top 5 U.S. smash of 1979 tonight at a special event for MEOW Con.
I caught up with Quatro, now a stunning grandmother that still rocks audiences, in her local hotel room this morning for a quick phoner. She’s been slammed with interviews and people waiting to spend time with her since she arrived in Austin a few days ago. She’s been questioned for 60 years, so I tried steering off the beaten path.
Austin Chronicle: Did becoming a mother and a grandmother change your music?
Suzi Quatro: It doesn’t change the music really, but it does give you a different focus.
AC: Who have been your biggest inspirations?
SQ: People inspire me the most. I’ve also been in influenced by Elvis, Otis [Redding], Billie Holiday, all of Motown – James Jameson for bass – and there’s so many more. Elvis Presley and Motown influenced me the most growing up.
AC: When you’re not touring, what are you most likely to be doing on a Sunday?
SQ: Reading, jogging, doing crosswords, being on the laptop, relaxing, and watching TV.
AC: Describe how the music industry has changed since you started.
SQ: It’s changed immensely. It’s now a download business. Lots of times bands aren’t used to playing together in the studio. Females are overly sexualized. Reality shows have a lot to answer for. They applaud mediocrity.
AC: What’s been your most powerful moment onstage?
SQ: After all of these years, it was recently in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The best gig of my life. It’s on YouTube. I can’t explain other than it went beyond a gig and was spiritual.
AC: Out of your catalog – and excluding the obvious “Stumblin’ In” – if you had to do a show that only featured three songs, which would you pick?
SQ: That’s a hard one, but “Devil Gate Drive,” “If You Can’t Give Me Love,” and recently, “A Girl Like Me.”
AC: After growing up in the Motor City, you’ve lived in England for most of your adult life? Why England?
SQ: It just happened. I was supposed to go and record an album then return. Everything took longer. I formed an English band, put down roots, and stayed. I had a choice to go to New York solo or stay in the UK solo. I took the English offer.
AC: What do you miss about the U.S.?
SQ: I miss America because it’s where I grew up. I miss the size of the roads, the size of cars, the malls, the choices of radio. I miss so many things, but life is more convenient here.
AC: What is happiness?
SQ: Being calm and peaceful. No need to go anywhere and just being happy in yourself.
AC: Quatro motto?
SQ: Be honest, be kind, and share the love.
AC: Unknown Quatro fact?
SQ: Most people don’t know how thin-skinned I am.
AC: What do you wish more people knew about you?
SQ: How deep my thoughts go.
AC: Advice to beginners?
SQ: Do as many gigs as the good Lord sends. That’s the only true training.