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Lita Ford Interview

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Lita Ford

Lita Ford

SPV Records
Updated June 18, 2012
After taking a sabbatical from the music business for several years, Lita Ford returned with a new album a few years back. But she considers her latest effort Living Like A Runaway her true return to form. It’s been a difficult few years for Ford, with an acrimonious divorce and custody battle. The album title symbolizes both her past as a member of the seminal girl group The Runaways, and her personal life the past few years.

Chad Bowar: Living Like A Runaway is your second album since coming back from a long hiatus. How did the songwriting process compare to 2009‘s Wicked Wonderland?
Lita Ford: It’s a huge difference. There’s no comparison. The last album was really out of my control, and Living Like A Runaway is completely in my control. It’s my songwriting, it’s my playing, it’s my vocals. It was really wonderful making this record. We locked ourselves away for a year in a studio in New Hampshire, and really came up with an amazing record. It’s a real Lita record with the old “out for blood’ riffs. We brought in some great guitar harmonies. Gary (Hoey, who produced the album) and I played together, which was so fun. He’s a great guy and a great producer.

Making the album was a journey. It was very emotional, too. It was the darkest time of my life, because I was undergoing this horrible divorce and fighting for my kids. I was able to channel my aggression into this record. The songs are delivered in a way that is real. If you don’t feel something when you’re listening to this record, you’re not listening to it.

How did you come to work with Gary?
He called me and told me about his studio, and offered the studio. I was looking for a producer at the time he called, so I took him up on his offer. I flew from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to New Hampshire. It was meant to be.

Who were the other musicians on the album?
Gary played bass. I did most of the guitars, and Gary did some of the guitars. The drums were Matt Scurfield, who is Gary’s drummer. Up in New Hampshire where we recorded there really isn’t a lot of musicians. It’s not like L.A. where there is a drummer on every corner.

You also had a little help on one track from guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio).
We were towards the end of the album and were looking for a riff. We needed something new, something different. I asked Doug Aldrich if he had any riffs up his sleeve. He wrote some stuff and sent it via MP3. To me, it was almost there, but not quite. So I told him to give me something nasty and up-tempo. He then sent back another riff, which is now the riff for “Bad Neighborhood.”

It’s a kick-ass riff, and the whole song evolved around the riff. The song has a saying that my old friend Tom, who was the head of Narcotics Anonymous, used to say. “Get out of your head, it’s a bad neighborhood.” So we wrote the song around that. It’s about being stuck in your own head.

At what point during the process did you come up with the album title?
The title was towards the very end of the process. We originally were going to call the album Branded. “Branded” was the second song I wrote. Towards the end of the album I went to Ollie at SPV Records and were talking on the phone about the title. I asked him if he thought I should call it Branded, and that I also had a second title, Living Like A Runaway. He said that was a brilliant title, let’s call it Living Like A Runaway.

But I didn’t have a song with that title yet, so I was kind of stuck. I had to write the song real quick. I called my friend Michael, who is a lyricist, and said we needed to come up with the song. I just committed myself to a title track for the album, but it’s not written yet. So Michael and I quickly wrote “Living Like A Runaway.” It came so fast. It was meant to be. It was really an easy track to write. We were on the phone when we wrote it. I said to Michael (sings) “Run baby run,” and Michael goes, “to New York City.” I said “Run baby run,” and Michael says, “Through the streets of L.A.” That’s it! We were screaming on the phone. We loved it.

Some editions of the album also have your cover version of Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back.” How did you decide to do that song?
It’s a statement. It’s an attitude. I thought we could try the song and see if it works. If it came across cheesy, we were going to can it. But Gary laid down this guitar track, and it was rocking. I walked into the room and went “Whoa! That’s killer.” The other godsend was the Uptown Horns, who played the horns section on that song. They were literally around the corner when we called them. They were seven minutes away from us in New Hampshire. We figured we would have to fly them in, put them up in a hotel, but they were able to come right over and play.

How did you end up signing with SPV Records?
We went label shopping, and wanted to find a label that was not so much financially going to give us a ton of money up front, which is what most people go for. We wanted to go with SPV because we knew they would support the record, and that’s the main thing. You can get a large chunk of cash up front, but if they don’t support the record, you’re (screwed). You might as well hang it up. And this record is so precious to me and to Gary, and we wanted it to be treated with kid gloves, like we’ve been treating it all along. We didn’t want it to be shelved, we want people to hear it.

You’ll be in front of a lot of people this summer when you tour with Poison and Def Leppard.
It’s icing on the cake. We’re going to mix it up. I think the bulk of the set will be new songs. I’m excited to play them. We’ve played them in rehearsal and they sound so good. For the Def Leppard shows you’ve got to get there early, or else you’ll be stuck in traffic and miss me. We need to let people know to get there early.

You’ve toured with Poison a few times over the years. Have you ever toured with Def Leppard?
No. I do know Phil Collen. He lives a couple of hours away. I know Rick Allen. We jammed together at Wembley once during the Bon Jovi tour. Rick Allen was on drums, Elton John on keyboards, Brian May and me were on guitar. It was a night I’ll never forget. I took Joe Elliot’s girlfriend at the time shopping and ended up buying some thigh high boots. I wore them for the rest of that tour.

Have you ever thought about writing a book?
I’m in the process of looking for a ghostwriter. I did have somebody, but it turned out not to be the right person. I’m kind of back to square one on the writing. We have to find the right person, because this is eventually going to be a major motion picture. It has to be the right writer, or else it won’t be a film.

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