By Andrew Bansal
Lita Ford, who started out in heavy music in 1975, and since then has been known for her work in The Runaways and her solo material, made a comeback into the music industry last year with the release of her seventh solo studio album ‘Living Like A Runaway’, an album that’s been well received by fans and critics alike. With solid riffs, gripping harmonies and and soaring vocal melodies, this is a great hard rock record and one that clearly proves Lita Ford still has what it takes to write good music. Earlier today, I had the pleasure of talking to her. She was absolutely lovely to talk to, and gave me a very insightful and candid interview. Enjoy it below, and visit Lita online using the links at the bottom.
It’s great to talk to you and have you on MetalAssault.com. So, you release a new album last year titled ‘Living Like A Runaway’, and you toured for it in the US, opening for Def Leppard and Poison. How does it feel to be an active rock musician again? You basically did the whole nine yards last year.
Yeah! It was a godsend to be on that tour, and it couldn’t have come at a better time too. It was wonderful and everybody was upset when the tour ended. But we’ve got some great shows coming up. We also did some shows after the tour finished. We’ve got the Monsters Of Rock cruise coming up as well. So, it really was a great boost for the new album, and it really kick-launched the album out there to the public. It got people to sit up and listen and take notice. Of course, photographs from the tour are all over the internet and you can see them everywhere. So it was a real godsend. The album was released a day before the tour started. It was pretty good timing.
This is your first solo studio album after a very long time, 17 years I think. In that time away from music, what was it like for you? Was it difficult?
Well, I’ve enjoyed being with my children, and I wanted to really focus on raising my children and not have to think about the music industry because at the time I left, the industry was going grunge. The heavy metal scene was pretty much disappearing, and I thought it was perfect timing to have children and go away to raise kids. So that was in my favor. And then coming back now after being gone for so many years, everything worked. People didn’t get burnt out on Lita because Lita wasn’t everywhere. Lita was nowhere. Nobody knew where I was. Nobody could find me (laughs). I was literally living on this deserted island in the Caribbean, like fricking Robinson Crusoe or something. So it worked in my favor. Now that I’m back in the music industry, people are happy that I’m back. I’ve presented them with a new album that everyone has loved so far. I’m getting good reviews, and it’s wonderful.
The album does sound great. I was very impressed with how simple yet how powerful the songs are. I have to congratulate you on that.
Thank you! We worked very hard on the record.
Do you think the record became more successful because you were away for so long? People took notice when you returned and were all excited again, I guess.
I started recording in 1975, and I took a break 20 years later. So I recorded and toured for 20 years solid. I didn’t do anything else, and I think I needed a breather. I was due for a break, and getting away from the music industry and coming back to it 15 years later, it was fresh again. In my mind I had so many ideas and it just felt fresh. I wasn’t burnt out on it. Of course, things have changed. Everything’s not the same anymore. But it’s just about trying to learn how to use the new. I’m sitting here with my new tape recorder, trying to figure out how to use the damn thing (laughs).
This album is all about good solid riffs and harmonies. Do you think that aspect has gone out of guitar playing a little bit? There seems to be more focus on shredding and speed. Do you feel that?
I do! I think people have gotten off-track. It feels and seems like there’s really not too many people that are on the right track. They have forgotten about harmonized guitar parts and emotion and feel, and it just all seems so cut-and-paste now, whereas ‘Living Like A Runaway’ is not. We didn’t cut and paste anything on that record. Gary [Hoey, producer] said to me, ‘If you want, I can just cut and paste it!’ I said no, we’re going to sing through it because it makes one chorus different from the other chorus whereas you could just sing one chorus and cut-paste the rest of them. There are little things in there that are different, like a vocal phrase or a guitar line. It keeps your interest and keeps you listening through the entire song, rather than just listening to the first verse and chorus and saying, ‘Ok, I’ve heard it, I’m done!’ It keeps your ear, it keeps you interested in the song and the entire album. So we really focused on feel more than technology.
That’s very true. So, you’ve primarily been a guitar player, but you also sing, obviously. Did you get more comfortable with that over the years?
Yeah, definitely. Now it’s second nature to me, but I’m not an opera singer. I have my own style. Mick Jagger is not an opera singer, and neither is Steven Tyler (laughs). There’s only so much we can do as who we are, as people. We develop our own style and that’s what takes a long time. It’s the same thing with guitar too, just developing who you are and your character, your technique, your performance. So yeah, I feel very comfortable with myself.
In terms of the lyrics on this album, I feel they are very intense and meaningful. Would you call these lyrics very personal?
They are. They’re real. ‘The Devil In My Head’ and ‘Asylum’ come from such a wicked place that it’s something that can’t be made up. I mean, it can be made up I guess, like a horror film, but to sing it and really mean what you’re saying, I think you have to live it and you have to feel it and know it. Those are the kinds of things that are so deep and dark that people try and sing deep, dark stuff and it just comes across like it’s no real. You know what I mean? I can’t quite put it into words. It just comes across like a silly song.
It’s almost as if they’re acting or trying to make it sound real.
Talking of the other members in your band, obviously you have a backing band that plays with you on stage, but for the album was there any contribution from them or is it completely done by you?
The album is completely done by Gary Hoey and myself. There’s really nobody else on this record, except for the drummer Matt Scurfield. He’s Gary’s drummer. He came in for three days, cut the drum tracks and he left. That was it. Then we had the Uptown Horns, they came in and played on ‘The Bitch Is Back’, and they left. Other than that, there was nobody else. Gary mixed it and mastered it, and played bass on it. We both did backing vocals. I did all the percussion and keyboards. Gary and I both shared the guitars and keyboards. Of course I did the lead vocals, except for ‘Love To Hate You’ which is a duet with Gary. So it was just me and Gary, we locked ourselves away for one year. It took us one year to write this record, and we had the support from his wife and kids. We just stayed in this little mountain in New Hampshire, and we worked on this record until it was finished.
That’s amazing. So, when you played the shows last year, which songs from the album did you enjoy playing the most?
Let’s see .. I mean, they’re all good and it really doesn’t matter. We played ‘Living Like A Runaway’, we started the show with ‘The Bitch Is Back’ which is a good opener. We played ‘Hate’, ‘The Devil In My Head’, ‘Relentless’, ‘Branded’ and others too. So there really isn’t a favorite. But we’re going to be releasing a video for ‘Mother’ soon, which is finished. We’re just waiting for it to get a little bit closer to Mother’s Day (laughs).
When you tour nowadays, is it a more balanced lifestyle? Is there less partying because you have to stay fit and keep your performance 100 per cent for every night of the tour?
Personally, I don’t like being out of control of myself. I don’t like not being able to see straight or being dizzy or not feeling a 100 per cent, you know. May be in the past I had fun doing that, those were my rebellious years, but now I’d rather do a good guitar solo than a good line of blow (laughs).
That’s a great line right there. You should probably write a song on that!
On that subject, there was a very interesting statement from Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian in a recent interview. He said that these days there’s less alcohol and drugs backstage because people have other things to do, they have laptops, smartphones and social networking. Do you agree with that? Has technology kind of sobered up musicians?
Well, may be that works for him! What really sobered me up was when my mother died in 1990. I remember the day she died. There were drugs everywhere, because she was so sick with cancer. I remember collecting all the drugs and I had all this crap that I could have either done them or I could have thrown them all away. When she died, that was when I decided to become sober and go straight, and get healthy. I was so sad that she died that I could have easily have gone over the edge and just could have taken too many pills. But instead I chose to throw them away in shock. Now, I may have glass of wine once in a while, and that’s about it. I’m a cheap date (laughs).
Right! Recently you also did the Dee Snider roast at NAMM. What was that like?
I enjoyed being there, I enjoyed being around my friends Eddie Trunk, Scott Ian and just everyone that was involved was really nice. But I think the whole concept behind that roast is terrible. I don’t agree with it, and I personally hope it goes straight into the toilet. That’s my opinion (laughs).
Wow, I’m pretty surprised by that! Why do you think it’s a bad thing? Is it just a distasteful way of doing it?
I don’t like bagging on my friends. I don’t like calling people names. It’s terrible! They’re turning us on ourselves. They’re turning us against each other, and it’s sickening. It’s such a fucked up show. I really had a hard time with it. I could hardly speak. I was really very uncomfortable with it?
Well, why did you do it then?
I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t quite sure. I knew it was something where you make fun of somebody, but I didn’t realize how extreme it was and how terrible it was. They turn you on your friends, so you’re bagging on your friends! To me that’s just not what I’m about. I don’t like it. It might be good for some people, but for me it was a nightmare and I will definitely never do that one again, nor I think will they have me back.
That’s well said. I’m glad you expressed your opinion on that. So, coming to the serious bit about NAMM, what did you do this year? Did you launch any new gear or were you just doing the usual signing and meet-n-greet stuff?
Oh, NAMM was great as usual. I love NAMM. It’s one of the best times of the year. But unfortunately, we had only one day at NAMM this year. We went from Dean Markley Strings to B.C. Rich Guitars to Monster Cable, said hello to a few other friends and then went over to the roast. But we had a long line. We had a line going outside the door around the side of the building. So it was pretty good. We had a really good outcome.
Final thing I want to ask you is, are you into any of the current bands or musicians?
Actually, the only thing I listen to is Living Like A Runaway (laughs). It’s in the CD player in my house and it’s in the CD player in my car, and I just hit play! That’s it and that’s what I like. When I get sick of it, I’ll find something else to listen to. I’ve got some songs that we play before we go on stage. One of the songs is Sixx A.M.’s ‘Life Of The Beautiful People’. So I play that before I go on. I know that when that song plays, I’ve got a few minutes to get ready and get on stage. That’s when we start making our way to the stage. And then we play other stuff like ‘Balls To The Walls’ by Accept, and just the oldies but goodies. But I like Sixx A.M. If I had to listen to something, I’d probably pick them.