Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Lita Ford is an American rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, who was the lead guitarist for The Runaways in the late 1970s before embarking on a solo career in the 1980s. It was particularly in that era that she came to my personal attention. At the height of the Mtv era she regularly graced the pages of my regular weekly rock magazine Kerrang. Lita Ford posters adorned my walls, and her videos were on heavy Mtv rotation. Last year Lita returned to the music scene with the release of a studio album, and now in 2013 is out on the promotional circuit in support of a new live release titled “The Bitch is Back…Live“.
Hi Lita “The Bitch is back” is your first live release since 2000. What prompted this, was it due to record company contractual obligations or a personal decision?
Lita”There was no special reason. We just wanted to dedicate an album to the fans, coming back into the music industry after being gone for so long. We just wanted to give the fans something,this was an album that was put together by the fans and created by the fans. In particular for the artwork they all submitted photographs and their names are listed inside the artwork. It’s pretty cool and the actual recording of the album was taken from a single show and totally live. Have you had a chance to listen to it at all?
I have indeed, managed to get it a few weeks ago and I think its great. Good balance between the hits and also the new material from the most recent studio release.
Lita”It’s meant to be intimate, and in your face. It’s not a record that we recorded different shows from different venues and pieced them together. It’s all one show, there is no backing tracks, there is no overdubs afterwards. We didn’t go back in the studio and re record anything. It’s just a raw live, high energy record. We wanted the audience-the listeners to be able to feel like they were in the audience when they listen to the record. That’s really the main goal behind a live record, you want the people to feel like they are there. We recorded it in a little club in the canyons, in California rather than record it in a large arena. We went into the Canyon Club,so the band really sound like they are in your face.”
The live release is out on yet another different record label. What did Spv offer this time around that was particularly attractive to you personally?
Lita”Oh they have been great, they have been extremely supportive. More so than say somebody like ..I don’t know one of the bigger record companies.Its just, that the support is everything. You can get signed to a record label but if they don’t support you, you re fucked! It doesn’t matter how you spice it you need their support. So far with Spv I have had their support from day one. They have never dropped the ball with me at any time. I work my ass off for them and they work their ass off for me.”
Following on to my next question do you still have full creative input into your work as the role of the record company has changed significantly in recent years?
Lita”Well in this situation, I do have full creative influence, because Spv allows the artist to be the artist. They allow me to do my job, it’s what we do. We are the artists and not just someone sitting behind a desk that is better with publicity or something on that level. It was good to make this record, and when we came down to picking the name for the record I would give the record company a couple of choices. They would say”this one doesn’t work, we like this one”and I would say”ok,sounds good to me”They help with the artwork, they are just really, really great.”
The live release includes some newer tracks from last years “Living Like A Runaway”release. This has been described as being more”autobiographical”in terms of lyrical subject matter.?
Lita “No,No, I think that peoples music is pretty much autobiographical. It’s just that mine just happens to be a little deeper than most. Some people may sing about”my boyfriend broke up with me” or whatever, mine just goes a little bit deeper than that. The added guitar riffs and arrangements that we worked on in the studio, I think it is a great album”
The title itself, has that link to your musical past. Looking back to that period of time that you spent in the Runaways how do you now view that with pride or with some regret?
Lita” I don’t have any regret, no way!.. There is no regret, I was as lucky as hell. I came straight out of high school and went on the road. I mean what better way to be rebellious? This was the rebellious years, you rebel no matter what you do it doesn’t matter. You become who you are and who you are going to be for the rest of your life during those years. With the Runaways I was able to learn how to be a guitar player first before I was a singer. I was able to focus on being a performer on stage. Being around people and touring and travelling there isn’t anything that I cant deal with(laughs) At this point I have pretty much done it all”
Just leading on from that..,I have read that you have recently rekindled relationships with some of your former Runaway band mates. Do you have any plans to create music again together, not necessarily under that banner?
Lita”Well I don’t think there is any wishes as far as Joan goes. I don’t think that she is too excited about performing with the Runaways. I think that it would be good, now is the perfect timing if we were going to do it at all. It’s now or never. I did do a recording recently with Cherie Currie. The two of us sang a Christmas song together, but it is an original Christmas song. We wrote it. It’s not something we redid like”Jingle bells”or”I’ll be home for Christmas”. It’s a new song that we wrote and its rocking.(laughs) It’s cool because if you put the headphones on you will hear Cherie in the right speaker and then I am in the left speaker. When you listen to the song you are in the middle of me and Cherie.”
That must have felt surreal to be back in the recording studio with her after so many years?
Lita”We loved it, we laughed like two stupid little kids.(laughs). We had a blast”
I read that you once recorded an album”The Bride Wore Black”that was never released. Do you have any plans to put that out if the tracks are still around?
Lita”Well the record was shelved by the record company and that was it.”
In recent times many artists have found and released similar “lost”tracks and sessions. That was why I was asking specifically regarding those songs.
Lita”The tracks still exist, from what I can remember they weren’t finished.”
What prompted your return to music with the Wicked Wonderland album in 2009, after an extensive break from the music scene?
Lita”I wanted to make an album and didn’t expect my ex husband to do it for me. That is not a Lita album, it’s got my name on it but you know…..it is what it is”(sighs)
What do you like most about your profession?
Lita”Oh god,gee..hmmm I don’t know. I like everything about it. I love my band, my fans, my crew they are all great guys. Everybody works so well together, my team , my managers, everybody that is involved in my life right now. I have really got a great bunch of people in my life right now. I am very blessed.”
What do you like least then about what you do for a living?
Lita”Its good to be the Queen”(laughs)
You touched briefly on my next question.Are you happy at this stage of your life? You have been some difficult times both personally and professionally over the years.
Lita”Musically yes, I am very happy and couldn’t ask for anything better. Socially? You know that I lost my kids, right?
Yes I have experienced a similar situation personally myself.
Lita”You have? It’s horrible. I have a website that you can look at, I don’t know if you know about it. You may have seen it already but its called Lita Ford’s Parental Alienation Awareness Face book https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lita-Fords-Parental-Alienation-Awareness/458574774195123?fref=ts You are welcome to put it in the article too. It’s difficult to explain, to where people can understand what it is exactly unless you are going through it. If you are going through it then you know what it is.”
I will definitely check that out as it is something that does personally resonate with me.
Lita”Yeah you should definitely check it out, it may help you in a lot of ways. It has a lot of good information there”
Thanks ,just moving then on looking back on your career is there anything that you would have done differently?
Lita”I probably wouldn’t have gotten married(laughs). Other than that hmm done differently…not really.”
Currently who are your personal heroes, both musically and non-musically?
Lita”My heroes, wow I have to thing about that(pauses). I think my heroes started when I was a teenager and they sort of stay with you throughout your life. I don’t all of a sudden have new heroes. My old heroes are still my heroes today. So I would say they are Ritchie Blackmore, I loved Blackmore. Tony Iommi’s playing, not so much him as a person but him as a musician. I loved Jimi Hendrix although unfortunately I never got to meet him. Then as far as lead vocals go, it would be Mick Jagger”
Any non musicians?
Lita”Actors? would probably be some of the most beautiful women in the world. Raquel Welsh or Sophia Loren.”
Outside the world of music do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Lita(laughing)”I don’t have any spare time. I sleep. I work 24-7, unless I am sleeping. I get bitched at a lot because I don’t eat. I don’t even eat anymore, I just don’t take the time. It’s like just shove the sandwich in your mouth while you are driving down the freeway kind of thing”(laughs).
How have you personally changed since you first started out in the music business as a sixteen year old Runaway?
Lita”Well I became a mom, a mother and that changed me in many ways. It made me understand what it is like to be a mother or a parent. I’m speaking for men as well, it’s something you can never really understand until you are a parent yourself. That is mainly how I have changed.”
Do you ever wish that you had more privacy,or does public recognition come with your job?
Lita” Well I could always have a private life, I lived on a deserted Caribbean island for ten years. There was nothing , no shops, restaurants its very private. I am happy where I am right now, I don’t need to be surrounded by boyfriends. I have enough dates right now. I enjoy being with my animals”(laughs)
What has been the biggest challenge for you personally over the years?
Lita”I’m trying to think….being a female is a challenge in this business and being taken seriously. Now I think that I am being taken seriously as an artist, coming back with”Living like a Runaway”and “The Bitch is back”It only took since 1975, but somebody has to do it. Somebody has to carve that path. I am proud and glad to say that the Runaways were the ones to do that. We weren’t just women, there were women before us that played musical instruments. There were no girls, and we were the first girl group.”
Ok just a couple to finish on. Why have you succeeded in a field where so many have failed?
Lita(raising her voice)”Because I fucking rock”(laughs) and I am persistent. I think you just need to be persistent and true or be real.”
Finally Lita looking ahead, do you have any plans to tour Europe and the Uk?
Lita”I hope so, Mark in 2014 I am keeping my fingers crossed that we come through the Uk. So far we don’t have any shows booked in Europe. We have a big year coming up in 2014, because of all the work we had with “Living like a Runaway”and now “The Bitch is Back”. The Christmas single, we have a book coming out in March. I think we are going to have a very busy year. It’s got to bring us through the Uk.”
Lita thanks very much for chatting to me this evening. This has been a very surreal experience for me as I used to have your posters from Kerrang on my wall when growing up. I have been listening to your music for quite some time.
Lita(laughing)”Awesome, that is great well maybe I could sign that Kerrang for you one day. Go to that Facebook page it will answer a lot of questions that you might have in your head.”
Thanks for chatting, it’s been a pleasure
Lita”You are welcome, God bless good bye ”