Lita Ford is riding high with her new album, Living Like A Runaway (read Powerline’s review here), which was released on June 19 in North America. With the help from renowned guitarist Gary Hoey as producer and Michael Dan Ehmig once again as co-songwriter, Ford has released one of her most daring and hard-hitting rock albums yet.
But as a member of The Runaways to her famous duet with Ozzy Osbourne (“Close My Eyes Forever”) to her solid solo work, Ford has been a true rocker all the way.
Here is a recent Powerline chat with Lita Ford, currently on tour with Def Leppard and Poison.
You recently remarked that Living Like A Runaway is like being able to walk through fire and coming out the other side unscathed.
Lita Ford: It’s having the strength and determination to walk out of hell alive.
You really do leave it all out there on this album. There are many emotional songs about your personal life. How hard is it to bare your soul like that?
Ford: How do you bury what’s so real and dramatic inside your heart and soul? Isn’t that what great rock ‘n’ roll is all about? If it’s not my personal life, it would only be someone else’s personal life. Why would I want to write about theirs?
A person’s creativity can often be at its best during the hardest personal challenges. Do you agree?
Ford: Oh yes, I agree. It’s a release, too.
The album’s title is “Living Like A Runaway” but you are hardly running away from anything anymore, especially on this album.
Ford: No, I am not running away, anymore, but “Living Like a Runaway” has a double meaning because it really was written about my musical journey through the Runaways and Lita, up until now. 2012. Also, there may be other people who are on the run from someone or something. It is a very down to earth and real song.
How did the songwriting process work with lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig?
Ford: Michael has been my partner in music since we first wrote “Lisa” together. He has a gift from god with his brilliant lyrics and is one of my dearest friends and brothers. We worked primarily over the phone, which was different, but he was in bed with a broken back, and I was at Gary Hoey’s studio most the time. His pain, combined with my pain, and we were able to create some awesome lyrics.
How do you think hard rock songwriting in general has changed over the years?
Ford: I believe we miss a lot of our heavy, hard rock riffs and it’s time. We need to turn around and start walking back towards those days that people truly miss so much. Like the guitar harmonies in Priest songs, or the Scorps and their shredding. The emotion behind the vocals. People miss those days but are afraid to say so, because hair metal — as it’s called —has earned such a bad rap. Ridiculous. Those were some of the best days ever. Why criticize someone’s hair — for lack of better terminology. Is it really about the hair?
How did you come to record Nikki Sixx’s “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By”?
Ford: It literally, just magically, appeared on my desk top. I thought, ‘That’s weird. I don’t have any Nikki songs saved to my desktop.’ So I listened to it… and thought, Oh my God! I have to cover this song. I emailed Nikki and he said it was from the 58 version. And it was a song he had written for his ex 15 years ago. I asked him if I could have a go at re-doing it. So Gary Hoey, producer, and I took it into the studio, gave it a Nine Inch Nails feel. It’s rocking.
How did you get guitarist Doug Aldrich to contribute?
Ford: We did a Whitesnake show a while back, and I asked Doug if he had any riffs up his sleeve. He made an mp3 of the riff on “Bad Neighborhood,” and we built the song around that riff. Smoking song!
Was it easy to get Elton John’s blessing to cover “The Bitch is Back”?
Ford: Sir Elton John, I must say, is a wonderful person, and yes, it was easy to get his blessing. He said thank you for doing my song. I laughed and said, thank you for letting me do your song. What a pleasure.
“Close My Eyes Forever” was huge for you. Do you like duets to begin with?
Ford: On the new CD there is a song called ”LUV 2 HATE U.” It’s a duet between me and Gary Hoey And live, I am open to any celebs that come by that would like to join me on “Close My Eyes.”
Have you kept in touch with Ozzy over the years? He really has straightened his life out and conquered his demons, hasn’t he?
Ford: I don’t know. Seems like he’s doing great. He has changed from the Ozzy I wrote “Close My Eyes” with. For sure. Good. He would have died if he didn’t change.
How do you compare this album to the last? Or any of your other albums?
Ford: I don’t compare this CD to my last one whatsoever. They are two totally different animals. If I had to compare it to any Lita CDs …. it probably would be Out For Blood. [1983, debut] .. only because this CD is more back to basics.
You would prefer this album to be heard in its entirety from start to finish — a hard request in this day and age of buying songs à la carte on iTunes, no?
Ford: It’s not a hard request. The problem is most CDs don’t have great tunes all the way through. So you get bored and stop listening. I don’t get bored listening to this CD. It’s awesome in it’s entirety.
And an album like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon had a lot of influence on you?
Ford: Only because I watched the documentary on VH1 and the way Dark Side was written was very influential. It’s raw and they kept the writing amongst themselves. So did Gary, Michael Dan and I. Except for a cover song.
Do you ever look back at your time with the Runaways for guidance? Did the lessons learned back then ever help you now?
Ford: Yes, I remember the roots of where my guitar playing came from and the raw energy of what the Runaways were all about, without all the electronic devises used these days.
BTW, How did you like the portrayal of you by actress Scout Taylor Compton in the film The Runaways.
Ford: Scout rocks!
Are you excited about this Def Leppard tour? Do you feel like have a lot in common with Leppard, Poison, sharing the same era, etc. Were you friends with the bands before?
Ford: I’ve toured with Poison before. The Def Lepp guys … I have run into on different occasions. It’s a real honor to tour with these bands. I am stoked.
Do you get to feel a little rusty on tour after extended breaks?
Ford: Not for long.
The B.C. Rich guitar is an iconic Lita Ford symbol — it has become your signature guitar. What is it about that brand that you love, and did you ever dream one day people would think of you right away upon seeing that guitar brand?
Ford: They are balls-out guitars. I fell in love with B.C. Rich because of Bernie Rico. They were simply the best. Now I have a signature model due out real soon, so people will be able to purchase their own Black Widow Warlocks. Very exciting.
Many think of you as the iconic woman in hard rock. That’s something to be extremely proud of. Not many female hard rock singers have had longevity in the genre. I mean, look at Lee Aaron, for example.
Ford: I have played with the most powerful of all rock legends. I play guitar like a man, which Lee Aaron didn’t. And I lead the path for many other females and males. I can go to my grave with that.
Looking over your long career, do you have any regrets?
Ford: I’m sure if I tried I could find something stupid. We’ve all made mistakes. But nothing that was life-changing.