LITA FORD INTERVIEW:
June 11, 2012
Lita Ford is a survivor — the longtime singer/guitarist has recently rebounded from a nasty divorce and the damage sustained by releasing a comeback album titled ‘Wicked Wonderland’ in 2009, which was too edgy, not very well received, and frankly not good… at all! Teaming up with guitarist Gary Hoey, Lita Ford began writing songs in 2011 for what would turn out to be her latest offering entitled ‘Living Like A Runaway’. Lita’s new album is just what people would expect from her — it’s got rockers, it’s got ballads, and it’s Lita starting to right the ship. Sleaze Roxx caught up with Lita Ford during her press run to promote her new album and she talked about working with Gary Hoey, how the album came together, and touring with Def Leppard this summer among other things.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a classic Lita Ford sounding new album called ‘Living Like A Runaway’. At what point did you determine that it was time to go back to your roots?
Lita Ford: I always felt that way actually — my intentions were to release this album, or something that sounded similar to this album, a longtime ago — even before the ‘Wicked Wonderland’ album. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way — that other album was released before I had a chance to write my own material. I really feel that ‘Living Like A Runaway’ is a real Lita Ford record, and obviously by listening to it you can hear the difference. I really think this is my ‘return’ to the scene after being gone for so long.
Sleaze Roxx: You had guitarist Gary Hoey produce ‘Living Like A Runaway’, how did he become involved? Did the fact that he’s a guitarist play a part in the guitar tone on the album?
Lita Ford: All the material on the album is new. I teamed up with Gary Hoey in the spring of 2011 to write some songs and that’s when ‘Living Like A Runaway’ started to take form. The first song that we wrote was “Love 2 Hate U” — my manager wanted a ‘happy’ song so we wrote “Love 2 Hate U”! (laughs) I didn’t originally have Gary in mind as producer — we both stumbled on this — I actually didn’t know Gary was a producer until we started talking on the phone one day. As it turns out he wanted to produce and I was looking for a producer — he had offered me his studio and I took him up on the offer. It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
It’s nothing new for Gary to produce because he’s been in the studio countless times, so this is something that comes second nature to him. He knows completely what he is doing in the studio — he’s a master at using pro-tools which is how most of this record was recorded. The drums were recorded live of course, but everything else is pro-tools.
Sleaze Roxx: There are some great tracks on the album, my favorites are “Living Like A Runaway”, “Branded”, “Hate”, and “Mother.” Is it safe to assume that “Mother” is the most personal song on the album? That’s on par with “Lisa” from ‘Stiletto.’
Lita Ford: (pauses) Yeah, yeah — it just worked out that way. It wasn’t planned — it is the “Lisa” of the ‘Living Like A Runaway’ record, it really is. The neat thing about it is that I wrote “Lisa” for my mother and now “Mother” is written for my kids — it’s like a generation has gone by. It’s kind of wild if you think about it.
Sleaze Roxx: Is “Mother” one of the songs that will make its way onto the set list?
Lita Ford: I think it would be great live — it’s a very basic song. When we started recording it we started to strip away the drums and stripping away the heavy guitar. It really worked best when it was ‘naked’. It’s just vocals and guitar until the bridge comes in, then everything else starts slamming in the middle of the song. It’s more intimate and it’s more in-your-face when it’s just the guitar and vocals. That song in particular was just magic.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about the title track “Living Like A Runaway”, because that is vintage Lita Ford — it could have come off the ‘Lita’ album. If I didn’t know it was brand spanking new I would have thought it was a track from that era.
Lita Ford: Yeah, I know what you mean. It tells a story and it takes you onto a bit of a journey. I can just hear my mother say, “Lita just go kick those people’s ass!” (laughs) I can see her saying, “Run baby, run. Do it Lita! Do it! Do it!” (laughs) My mother would give me so much encouragement and power to go for it, she was always so supportive — and my father too, he was my biggest fan. That song is a little bit about them and it’s about my fans who have cheered me on, that have given me the support and power to keep going.
Some people really are on the run, they really are running away from things. There’s a line where it says, “You can never stay when you’re living like a runaway.” It goes like this (singing) “Run, baby run, across New York City”, and then I’d say, “Run, baby run, trough the streets of L.A. You can never stay when you’re living like a runaway.” It’s like when you’re on the run from the law. I have a friend, Michael Emig, who co-wrote the song with me and added that last line… “You can never stay when you’re living like a runaway.” It’s so tense being on the run and it’s so true.
Sleaze Roxx: You covered 58’s “A Song To Slit Your Wrist By”, which was written by Nikki Sixx. How did that make its way onto the album?
Lita Ford: You know what Ruben, I swear on my life this was the weirdest freaking thing — but the song popped up on my desktop on my computer. It just appeared on my computer and I was like, “What the hell is this? Nikki Sixx “A Song to Slit Your Wrist By?” I never heard a song called that and I don’t have any Nikki Sixx songs saved on my laptop? So I listened to it and after hearing it, it had such heavy lyrical content, I thought, “Wow, this is pretty cool! I love this song — I need to record this.” I thought I’ve got to call Nikki and ask him what this is. I knew it wasn’t Motley Crue because it didn’t sound like Vince Neil was singing.
I sent Nikki an e-mail and I asked “What is this, was it released with your book? What is this and can I use it? Can I do a remake of it?” and he said, “Oh, that’s a song that I wrote for my ex-wife 15 years ago.” I said, “Well, I’ve got to do it.” And Nikki said, “Got for it! Just let me hear it when you’re done.” (laughs) We gave it this edgy industrial sound to it — it kind of reminds me of Nine Inch Nails. We added a second solo, so it sounds very different than the original. I think it turned out pretty cool.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s really weird how that song wound up on the album.
Lita Ford: It’s really weird how the whole album just happened like it did. It was like God just dropped the entire thing in my lap. Also, how I wound up doing a cover of Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back”. I wound up sending Elton an mp3 of the finished track through his management and got a response like, “this is one rocking track.” Later on I got an opportunity to meet up with Elton at one of his shows and he gave me the thumbs up on my version.
Sleaze Roxx: “The Bitch Is Back” will be a bonus track on one of the limited edition version of the album, I believe?
Lita Ford: Right, it was hard for us to determine what to include as bonus tracks because I feel that everything we recorded — I think they are all great songs. When it came time to select the first single I said to my manager and to Gary Hoey, “I don’t care what we put out as a single because I think they’re all good. Do what you want.” Land Shark Promotion got a hold of the record and they picked “Living Like A Runaway”, only because it’s the title track of the album. I was fine with that, so we did an edited version for Land Shark. Gary went into the studio and did a 3 minute edited version of “Living Like A Runaway” for radio. I guess the first single is “Living Like A Runaway.”
Sleaze Roxx: When you were doing press for your last album ‘Wicked Wonderland’, your ex-husband Jim Gillette was always involved in the interviews. There was something very controlling about that and at times some of the interviews took an uncomfortable turn — they were tense and awkward. I think when Lita is doing press we want to hear from Lita Ford, but that situation had this kind of Ike & Tina Turner vibe to it. I don’t know if you feel comfortable commenting on that at all?
Lita Ford: (long pause) Yeah, you’re dead on in what you just described. (pause) You’re so right on with what you just said. It really was like an Ike & Tina Turner — completely. It was incredibly awkward for me. I believe in working with your spouse, I believe in supporting your spouse in whatever it is that they want to do — just don’t do it for them. You have to draw the line somewhere. I got to the point where I could no longer function. I sat back and let him do his thing when he was done then I’d say something. I would get in ‘trouble’ later on for whatever it was that I would say. It got to the point where I said, “You know what? I can write a Lita Ford album. I don’t need someone to write a Lita Ford album for me.”
Sleaze Roxx: How difficult was it for you to break away from that situation and how are you doing now?
Lita Ford: (pause) It was terribly difficult — it was frighteningly difficult. I can’t even begin to tell you, I don’t think we have enough hours in a day. I feel like God has dropped this whole album in my lap, he’s given me this tour with Def Leppard, and I’m going with it.
Sleaze Roxx: How much of the new album will make its way into the set when you open for Def Leppard this summer?
Lita Ford: We’re not going to be allowed much time before Poison goes on, we really have the toughest slot I think of the three bands. People will be rolling in or people will still be stuck in traffic, we’ll see what happens. We’ll also be doing headlining shows on our days off where we’ll get a chance to squeeze in more songs off the new album. I’d like to get in as much new material as possible. Obviously I’d like to do the older stuff like “Out For Blood”, Livin’ On The Edge”, “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Close My Eyes Forever”, and maybe the rest all new stuff.
Sleaze Roxx: Will there be more touring after the summer run with Def Leppard?
Lita Ford: Right now after the Def Leppard tour winds down the only thing that has been confirmed has been the Monsters Of Rock Cruise. That’s not until March of 2013, but I’m hoping we can make it over to Europe for some appearances before we do the cruise.
Sleaze Roxx: What did you think of The Runaways movie?
Lita Ford: Honestly, all I have seen is the trailer (laughs), I haven’t watched the film. I know it’s based on Cherie Currie’s book, which was pretty much about Cherie and Joan Jett, so I don’t know that it’s really a Runaways movie. I do have to say that by the looks of the trailer they did a good jab with the casting.
Sleaze Roxx: There has been talk throughout the years about an album titled ‘The Bride Wore Black’. Does that record in fact exist and if so will it ever see the light of day?
Lita Ford: It’s funny, I started writing an album called ‘The Bride Wore Black’, and as a matter of fact there are 24 track tapes sitting at my old record company’s shelves. It was kind of a concept album — I came close to finishing it but I don’t think it will ever see the light of day simply because it wasn’t finished. The record company had gone through so many changes at the time — people getting hired and people getting fired. I really think that album got caught up in all the house cleaning that was taking place.