An Exclusive Interview with the Queen of Rock: Lita Ford
(By Groovey) Legendary rock icon Lita Ford will release her eighth studio album Living Like a Runaway on June 19th. The album, which was produced by guitar master Gary Hoey, has already received excellent reviews and much excitement and anticipation from the fans. Lita Ford will be heading out with Def Leppard and Poison on the Rock of Ages Tour for the rest of the summer. Here’s what the queen of rock had to say about the new album and what’s next for Lita.
What was your first spark to put out a rockin’ and more stripped down, back to basics album?
Lita Ford: I don’t know I just had this drive in me that I was just gonna do the best I could and I wasn’t gonna have it any other way. You never know with a record. You can think, “Oh, this is gonna be great.” And then it turns out to be average. Or you think, “This is pretty good.” And it turns out to be amazing. Personally I think this record is one of those that doesn’t have any filler songs and mostly every song is really good and it doesn’t let you down anywhere throughout the entire record. You don’t skip any tracks or “Aughh, I don’t wanna listen to that one.” You know sometimes you will just get that one-hit record. It’s got one song on it and that’s it. I just don’t feel that way about this one.
It is a concept album but it is about your life right?
Lita Ford: Yeah, my life as it is now and having gone through a divorce and being in a wacky place when I wrote the album. I was in a real wacky place in my life and it just channeled and fueled into this album. Some of it is pretty dark, pretty deep, aggressive, and it’s got a lot of attitude but it is empowering at the same time. It’s like, “Yeah, I can get through this and I can deal with this.”
Are you feeling empowered at all because the album is coming out in a couple weeks?
Lita Ford: Oh yeah, I can’t wait. It’s been finished for a little while now but the record company needed time to print the artwork and the discs and all the record company stuff they need to do. I think it would have been out a month ago otherwise. It did take us a while to mix the record and it took us a little longer to mix it because people don’t realize how much is lost in mastering a record and mixing it. If it’s not done right you lose everything you’ve written. Everything that you’ve put into the heart and soul of your record, vocals or your guitar playing, gets lost in the mix or the mastering. It is such an important thing that if you don’t get it right everything is lost. We really put a lot of time into the mixing and mastering. We wanted to make sure that we drove it home all the way. We didn’t even let up on the artwork because the artwork itself tells a story that you’re on a journey being on the railroad tracks. The album cover itself really gives you that feeling that you’re lost or running away.
How did it all work out with co-writer and producer Gary Hoey in the studio?
Lita Ford: Gary and I work very well together; we really fed off of each other. When I got stuck for things Gary would come up with something and then when Gary got stuck I would come up with things and then when we both got stuck we would call on our friend Michael Dan and Michael is a lyricist. So we would call him up and we’ say, “Michael, we’re stuck! We don’t know what to do. You gotta come up with a song title or come up with a lyric.” So we’d hang up the phone and about three hours later we’d get an email from Michael that was like six pages of lyrics and they would be the most amazing lyrics. The lyrics on this record are really some of the best lyrics written that I know I have ever written with Michael and Gary of course. All three of us. Just that alone is very difficult to sit down and write lyrics that are meaningful. So Michael was a godsend, I’ve known Michael for years probably since 1989 and the very first song we wrote together was “Lisa” which was a song for my mother when she was dying from cancer. I was really stuck with the lyrics; I couldn’t put it into words. Trying to write a song for your mom who is dying of cancer is not the easiest thing to do. I reached out to Michael and he wrote the most amazing words I’d ever heard and from that point on we have been bonded as friends. We go through so much together. Hard times. At the time he wrote with us during Living Like a Runaway I was going through this horrific divorce and dealing with all these attorneys, therapists and judges what a nightmare and he was lying in bed with a broken back. He couldn’t move so he had to just lay there. So I put him to work. I said, “Look, all you have to do is write some lyrics. You don’t have to move. So it really helped him out and it really helped me out. Then we gave everything to Gary and then he funneled everything into the CD.
Wow, I know hardship breeds good art but I’m really sorry you guys had to go through all that shit during this album.
Lita Ford: Yeah, it’s pretty wacky. But it does breed for good music and am so glad that I wrote this record and I thank god for it.
Obviously you’re a very accomplished guitar player so how did you challenge yourself on this album?
Lita Ford: Well my producer is one of the best guitar players on the planet so I really had to hold myself together in front of Gary I couldn’t let down and slack on the guitar playing. We played some stuff in harmonies together and it just came out real nice like at the beginning of “Asylum” when it kicks into that harmony guitar part. There’s a bunch of others like “Living Like a Runaway” has some real nice harmony guitar parts which I love. I miss it. I don’t think they do it so much anymore in music. Like Judas Priests and Scorpions we don’t hear that anymore but they’re brilliant and it has gotten lost over time.
It seems to me that the more classic metal sound is starting to make a comeback.
Lita Ford: People want it. For a while I think people were afraid to admit it because it had earned such a bad rap, I don’t know why, but it did. So people were afraid to admit it but now it’s, “You know what? Fuck it! We miss it. We miss it, we love it, and we want it back. Why? Because it’s awesome! “ (Laughs) Give us something decent to listen to for Gods sakes.
Now what’s the scoop on the Def Leppard and Poison tour coming up? That looks pretty freakin’ huge.
Lita Ford: Yeah, no shit right? It’s too bad they don’t give you frequent flyer miles for driving in a bus. It’s going to be a very serious and challenging tour. I ‘m really looking forward to it and I am very honored to be on the tour. I’m diving in a 100%.
Lita Ford: I did hire a trainer. What we are working on now is heavy weight training and a little bit of cardio. Lifting weights works your cardio anyway but we’re just working on lifting weights and strength training. Just to be able to swing that guitar around on stage, I’m only 120 pounds , five foot five, I don’t weigh shit. My guitars are heavy. I play the original B. C. Rich’s. My double neck weighs 12 pounds and then my strap probably weighs three or four pounds with all the metal and crap on it. Not to mention your clothes and everything else you got wrapped around you. I feel good when I’m strong. So I do the strength training.
Okay so Living Like a Runaway is all about freedom and being empowered. What are your goals and what is up next for Lita Ford?
Lita Ford: Oh man, I gotta work this record. It’s going to take all of me to work this record. I’m already being pulled apart at the seams. But I would like to do a book and eventually a major motion film. I don’t want it to be a book on my life story so much as a story about a girl who follows her dream. It is about me because that is pretty much what happened. I had a vision when I was 13 years old at my first Black Sabbath concert. This vision… I mean I saw my life in front of me. The big parts anyway and so far it has all come true. It’s just really wild but I would like to try and do a major motion film. But that will take a few years.