INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Lita Ford is a British-born, American rock musician and singer who was the lead guitarist for highly successful, but short lived, all-girl band The Runaways in the late 70’s. Ford achieved popularity for her solo career during the 1980’s. Her 1988 album LITA went platinum in the USA and it featured four commercial hits, including “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Back to the Cave”, “Falling In And Out Of Love” and “Close My Eyes Forever” which was a duet with Ozzy Osbourne. The 90’s wasn’t an easy time for hard rock bands/artists. Following the release of BLACK in 1995 Ford retired from the music business and focused on family life. Lita returned to the stage in 2008 and one year later she released WICKED WONDERLAND, which was her first album in almost fifteen years. Since then she has gone through many changes including a difficult divorce from Jim Gillette but she has also released her strongest album in decades titled LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY (2012). Lita Ford and her renewed band arrived to a mini-tour in Scandinavia in July. I was fortunate to meet her at backstage in Skogsrojet festival in Sweden and here are the results of that interesting discussing session. Read on!
BACK IN THE GROOVE
Metal-Rules.com: I just heard that you had a long and difficult ride to come over here in Sweden?
Lita Ford: Oh, well we took a lot of flights, we went from Los Angeles to New York and the flight was delayed 3 hours leaving New York and then the actual flight itself was what 7 hours? So from LA to New York is 5 hours, then it was delayed three hours, and then the flight was 7 hours. So what’s that 8 into 15. And then we had a 6 hour layover in Oslo and then from there we had another hour flight and then what a 20 minute drive but that 20 minute drive seemed like it took forever, I was asleep with my hand in my face like this, with my sunglasses on. (Laughs)
Metal-Rules.com: Well, like your latest album title says, how it is to be “Living like a Runaway”?
Lita Ford: Yeah, it is great, I love it. I tried the not traveling and trying to stay in one place. I raised my children so for the first ten years of their life we really didn’t do too much traveling, and I missed it. I missed it a lot and it’s good to be back.
Metal-Rules.com: You came back to the music scene in 2008 after a long break which lasted almost 14 years. What did you miss most during that time or was there anything worth to miss?
Lita Ford: Yeah, well I missed everything about the music industry. I remember my very first tour that I did I was seventeen and we left home and we were gone for three months and I was freaking out, because I was just a kid really, seventeen. To leave home for three months. And I remember the day I got off the plane, the tour was over and I got off the plane and I saw my father greeting me at the airport and I went *cries aloud* “DAD”, and I cried, he laughed at me. He thought it was so funny, but after that I never cried again. There was no more tears. But I grew up doing this. Just being in a hotel, and everything that goes along with traveling. I love it. I don’t like the flying these days because the planes have changed the way they shove everybody into a small plane and they overbook, your luggage and everything. We never use to have that. There used to be open rows and bigger planes and you could shove all your stuff into your suitcase and you know they wouldn’t charge you. They would feed you on the plane, now you have to pay so much money for a piece of fruit.
Metal-Rules.com: About three years ago, you performed at Sweden Rock, and then it seemed that everything was not quite right. Obviously you then had a difficult phase in your life and it was shown on the stage as well. But now it seems that things are in order and you actually shine!
Lita Ford: Thank you. I feel like it. I went through a terrible divorce and that trip to Swedenrock was a nightmare for me because things went wrong with the band, things went wrong with the passports, things went wrong with me and my ex-husband and it was an absolute nightmare. And then when we did finally play Sweden Rock, we did a terrible show for us. It was a terrible show, yeah. And I came away from that show feeling so bad, because we always kicked ass in Sweden, we always did. With The Runaways and Lita, even during the early Lita days, we never had any trouble. So I came over thinking were not prepared, were not ready. The band was terrible. Now, I’ve got great band members. I got rid of everybody that was in the band before, they just… it wasn’t that they were bad musicians, it’s that they weren’t good together – they weren’t good as a team. You know, my ex-husband hired them. It was all his project.
Metal-Rules.com: He also hired Stet Howland to the band?
Lita Ford: Oh God, him and Stet went head to head. Ask Stet about him.
Metal-Rules.com: Ok, I didn’t know that.
Lita Ford: Yeah Big time, Stet wanted to kill him. Yeah he did, it was nasty, but ask Stet. Stet’s a sweetheart.
A NEW LIVE ALBUM
Metal-Rules.com: There’s a new Lita Ford live album coming out in the fall titled THE BITCH IS BACK?
Lita Ford: Yeah, Yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: It’s a great album title I have to say. And of course the title comes off from the track “The Bitch is Back” which you recorded for LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY album. It’s originally a song of Sir Elton John, would you tell how you ended up to use it in the album?
Lita Ford: Well, I heard it on the radio and I just thought it worked for Elton John, and it works for Lita Ford, it kind of makes a statement saying “She’s back” and this is me saying this, not anybody else you know. It came from me and I spoke to Elton John backstage before we released the album and I wanted his blessing. I didn’t want to just take his song and do it because I’ve done my own version of it. Its more guitar orientated instead of piano. So, I said to him, were doing “The Bitch is Back” and we gave him a copy of it, and his tour manager wrote back and said “It’s one rocking version”, but I went backstage because he came through town and I went backstage and said “Hello!” and he said “That’s my song” you know, “that’s my song”, and I said “Yes it is your song” and I said “Thank you for letting me do it”, and he said “Thank you for doing my song”. So I thought right on, I got his blessing.
Metal-Rules.com: He must have been surprised that you wanted to cover his song?
Lita Ford: Yeah, Yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: When will the live album will be released?
Lita Ford: October twenty – around the 25th. It comes out in Europe on the 22nd, Germany on the 25th, I could be getting these dates wrong, and then the US on the 28th. So it’s all in that twenty something week of October.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you have plans to do some promotion, a new tour etc. to support the album?
Lita Ford: Well, we’re doing some runs with a bunch of bands in the States, and I just met with the record company last night so were working on it, were not quite sure exactly what, I’m sure I will be doing a lot of press for it, were trying to get some dates in Germany and the UK, trying to situate them, but we don’t know if we’re going to do them this year or next.
Metal-Rules.com: I was just thinking that you might be in trouble in U.S with your album title. Probably it’s going to be called THE “BLEEP” IS BACK in public because of current censorship rules “Laughs”?
Lita Ford: Yeah right, the “bleep” is back. But you know what though, the younger generation love that, they love it. You know it’s in a kind way, it’s not meant to be malicious. You know like, You BITCH, I mean it’s not like that, it’s meant to be loving, rock n roll.
LINE UP TALK AND SOMETHING ABOUT THE WICKED WONDERLAND…
Metal-Rules.com: What I’ve seen and read from the reviews it seems that you now have a really strong band together.
Lita Ford: Oh definitely, I’ve got a great band now. It’s just you know, its chemistry. It’s all – like I can find another great guitar player or another great bass player but they might not fit you know, just because it looks good.
Metal-Rules.com: The puzzle needs all pieces to be complete, right?
Lita Ford: Yeah. It makes your team, and we have a good team I think with all of us, I mean our crew, everybody. We all work well together even our my guitar tech Dugie, you’ll see him come out on stage and he’s just part of the band you know and we all work very well together, but if you take a piece of that puzzle out it all of a sudden becomes a different animal. And I think right now the puzzle fits perfect with us. Bobby Rock on drums and Marty O’Brien’s playing bass and Mitch Perry and me on guitar, the two of us, three of us, four of us, we don’t need anybody else.
Metal-Rules.com: You’ve found an interesting combination of players from different genres and different generations. Marty is coming from the 90’s, Bobby is definitely from the 80’s and you and Mitch are definitely coming from the 70’s, got what I mean here?
Lita Ford: Yeah, but we all work musically. And it’s not really about where you come from it’s about how you’re playing now in your style and does it fit, you know. Does Marty fit with Bobby and does Bobby fit with me, yeah, we all fit together. So it’s like going shopping for wardrobe, you know you see something hanging on the coat hanger and you think “God that’s awesome, I love that!” but you try it on and it looks like shit. It’s a whole different animal. And then you can put on a different pair of pants and the pants don’t work with the jacket, but you try on a different pair of pants and they do work with the jacket. It’s the same as your band members, I mean to compare them to a wardrobe is kind of silly but you know what I mean, it’s just a piece of the puzzle that fits and this combination is great. We’ve got everybody, everybody has their own routine on stage and we read each other really well which is great, and before like when we played Swedenrock, we didn’t read each other, we didn’t read each other well at all and part of the problem was it wasn’t my band it was something that my ex-husband put together for me.
Metal-Rules.com: Like the album WICKED WONDERLAND was…
Lita Ford: Yes.
Metal-Rules.com: How do you feel about that album now?
Lita Ford: You know, I threw them all away. I took them, I threw them all away. I got a big truck and I – because he wanted to be the record company, so we had all of the records in storage and CD’s, and I just didn’t want anybody to have them so I threw them all in the dumpsters. Took me a long time, there was a lot of records “Laughs”
NEW STUDIO ALBUM
Metal-Rules.com: Do you already have plans for the next Lita Ford studio album?
Lita Ford: Yeah I do.
Metal-Rules.com: Are you going to do it in the same way like the last one, with the same team?
Lita Ford: I don’t know. I’d like to. I’m using my lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig. He is amazing; he’s written some of the best lyrics I’ve ever read in my life. And Michael and I are working on a couple songs right now and they are incredible. And Gary Hoey, I spoke to Gary and I’m going to try to work him in through the holidays, because he has a family and he also does the Gary Hoey Christmas tour, so he’s going to be busy. But I’m going to try to yank him away from his family for a few days and see if I can get him to record a few tracks with me. I don’t think it will be too hard.
Metal-Rules.com: I think that you should use your current band in the studio. You haven’t worked that way too much in the past.
Lita Ford: Yes. No, No I haven’t.
Metal-Rules.com: That would be great thing to do this time?
Lita Ford: You know with the LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY – it was just me and Gary, and then we brought in Matt Scurfield who is Gary’s drummer. And he just played everything in one day, so it was really just me and Gary locked in a room for one year it took us to write that album. So we’ll see?
THE RUNAWAYS TALK
Metal-Rules.com: Of course I have to ask something about The Runaways… and the question is, is there any news to tell about possible re-union of the band?
Lita Ford: Well, Cherie and I talk all the time. We’re all for it both of us. You know I’m friends with Vicky and I’m friends with Jackie. Of course Sandy unfortunately is not around, but Joan is the only missing link.
Metal-Rules.com: When did you last time talk with her?
Lita Ford: Joan, I talked to Joan… Monsters of Rock Cruise docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and when they docked in Fort Lauderdale that night, Joan played in Fort Lauderdale so I went to her concert. It was in March, so that was the end of March, and I – she didn’t expect me at the show so I showed up at sound check and she went, “What are you doing here?” I said “I came to see you tonight”. I was hoping that she was going to ask me to sing with her.
Metal-Rules.com: But she never did?
Lita Ford: No.
Metal-Rules.com: That would have been great, to do at least one song together etc.?
Lita Ford: Yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you see the reason why she doesn’t want to do that Runaways thing?
Lita Ford: I don’t know. I really don’t know because she doesn’t answer my emails but I would love a Runaway’s Reunion, I would love it. I think it would kick ass.
Metal-Rules.com: At least you should do a few shows together, like some selected festivals?
Lita Ford: We wouldn’t have to do that much you know? Even record a couple of new songs, so if you see Joan…
Metal-Rules.com: I’ll tell your greetings for her. “Laughs”
FORMER MEMBERS TALK
Metal-Rules.com: Do you mind if I ask something about your former band members or at least about some of them?
Lita Ford: Go for it.
Metal-Rules.com: Drummer Scott Coogan who actually plays on the upcoming live album. Whatever happened for him?
Lita Ford: Scott and his girlfriend Tracy, who is his manager, wanted him to move to Las Vegas so when they moved to Las Vegas he started doing something with another band and that was the end of it. I told them, I said Las Vegas isn’t that far, you know you can make the drive, but honestly it was a blessing because Bobby really fits the band better.
Metal-Rules.com: I have to admit that Bobby really is a killer on drums!
Lita Ford: Yeah, we give him a drum solo. First Mitch and I, we do a solo together, and on the next song Bobby Rock does drum solo and its fucking awesome.
Metal-Rules.com: How about your bassist from the early days, Hugh McDonald. Are you still in touch with him?
Lita Ford: Hugh McDonald, oh my gosh. I haven’t heard that name in a long time.
Metal-Rules.com: He’s been a touring/session bassist for Bon Jovi for years.
Lita Ford: Oh, is he? I didn’t know that. I don’t think I’ve seen Bon Jovi since 1989. He’s earning good money now. “Laughs”
Metal-Rules.com: How about Randy Castillo who was in the band at the same time with Hugh?
Lita Ford: This is interesting because there is a documentary coming out on Randy. Yeah, a guy did a documentary, Wynn Ponder, and he got together some people that put together some financing and it was really hard for him, because there wasn’t a lot, so he’s been working on this project for years since 2010-2009- maybe 2009 and he was recently in Los Angeles and I did the voice over for the film, so it’s pretty much finished and there’s a lot of celebrities on it, because Randy was playing with everybody, Randy knew everybody. And I hope it comes out, so I haven’t heard about when it’s coming out?
Metal-Rules.com: The next name on my list is guitarist Joe Taylor who played with you in the early 90’s?
Lita Ford: Oh Yeah, Joe Taylor. He had a fight with my ex-husband too. He chased him away, Jim chased Joe away, because we were going to go and do some shows and Jim tried to cut his pay. And Joe didn’t like it, so Jim says well then you’re not going.
Metal-Rules.com: Yeah so he left?
Lita Ford: No he didn’t leave, he got the boot which I didn’t like, because I loved Joe. Joe was like my brother, I let him live at my house, he lived at my house for like 9 months. He really was like my brother.
Metal-Rules.com: The last name on my list is Eric Singer…
Lita Ford: Well, Eric, my God, he started with me before he was… Yeah, that was his very first gig, so it’s been a while, I run into him all over the place. But back then he was a little green. “Laughs” A little green but he’s done very well for himself, so I’m proud of him.
Metal-Rules.com: When he was in the band you recorded album THE LADY WORE BLACK which got never released. Is there any chance that it could come out in a way or another?
Lita Ford: Uh- uh… Yeah. Maybe “Laughs”
THE FAMILY SITUATION
Metal-Rules.com: Like you said you’ve gone through a terrible divorce and, if I have learned right, there are still many unsettled things between you and Jim Gillette. So is there any light in the end of tunnel to get those things solved anytime soon?
Lita Ford: No. You know, I’m going to give you a website to go to and it will help you to understand what is going on. I should write it down because it’s long, oh well you got your tape running, but it’s called “Lita Ford’s Parental Alienation Awareness”, in Facebook. It’s under causes, like “Save the Whales” kind of thing. But it’s about parental alienation and it’s something that not a lot of people are aware of and it’s something that people need to be aware of. So that’s why I created this Facebook page, because there’s a lot of people going through it, there’s a lot of parents that are going through parental alienation and its fucking horrible. It’s fucking horrible and it needs to be made illegal, and it’s not – it’s legal. It’s disgusting and it’s legal in Sweden its legal in the United States so it’s, something that needs to come out of the closet, we need to stand up and speak loud and we need to make it illegal.
Metal-Rules.com: Could you please shed some more light of the term “parental alienation”?
Lita Ford: Well, it’s where the other parent, one parent uses the child as a weapon to hurt the other parent.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you think that there’s any reasonable way to resolve those issues?
Lita Ford: He is not reasonable. The only chance is for me to hope my kids come look for me. So I will wait for them, because one day they are going to figure it out.
Metal-Rules.com: How long it is been when you last time saw your children, more than two years?
Lita Ford: It’s been three and a half years. It started before I wrote LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY. Thank God I’ve got support for this you know, because it’s something like I said it needs to come out of the closet. Eddie Trunk talks about it on Sirius radio, Dee Snider talks about it on his House of Hair and it’s awesome. And there is a lot of parents that write in to me. They write “Thank you Lita, Thank You, Thank you for doing this” because they feel like somebody is helping them, because they don’t have a voice, you know, I do. But when you read the Facebook, you will know.
Metal-Rules.com: Ok, I’ll go check it out and hope that our readers do the same. Thank you so much Lita!
Lita Ford: Thank you Marko.