Lita Ford Explains New Album "Living Like A Runaway," Being A Rock Mom, And More
Rock icon Lita Ford will be releasing her new album "Living Like A Runaway" next month in North America through SPV/Steamhammer. With the album release and a tour with Poison on the horizon, I got the chance to chat up the metal mother herself to hear what she had to say about the creation of "Living Like A Runaway."
Commenting on what went into the album, Lita stated, "There’s a lot of emotions in this record and those are real. I think it comes across that way because it’s not something I’m trying to make up or I’m trying to conjure and sell, they’re real and it helps deliver the songs... We really want to keep it simple and I think sometimes less is more. In this situation, on this album, it turned out that way."
Read on to find out more about how Lita approached the album, her interest in getting The Runaways going again, being a mom in a rock band, and getting stoned with Ozzy Osbourne to create the iconic track "Close My Eyes Forever."
xFiruath: Starting off with the new album, what went into “Living Like A Runaway” and how is this one different from previous albums?
Lita: Well, it’s kind of like the old Lita. It’s not real keyboard-oriented, although there are some keyboards on the songs. It’s not a real piano/keyboard album. We tried to stay shy of that a little bit and we added more guitar riffs and harmonies, which I love and I think are long overdue. I think some people might be missing that style of music. “Living Like A Runaway” was something that was so emotional, I was emotionally attached to this record. When I first approached Gary Hoey, who was the producer on it, I asked him to keep the album basic. I wanted to keep it bass, drums, rock and roll. The only thing we did was add some horns and a little bit of piano for fillers, but we really kept it basic. I think that’s what the old Lita records were more abut, keep it bass, drums, vocals, and lead guitar. There’s a lot of emotions in this record and those are real. I think it comes across that way because it’s not something I’m trying to make up or I’m trying to conjure and sell, they’re real and it helps deliver the songs. Have you had a chance to hear the songs? Do you have any favorites?
xFiruath: So far I like “Relentless” and “Devil in my Head,” and “Mother” was pretty interesting.
Lita: It grows on you. It’s like a movie, the more you watch it, the more you start to pick out. Listen to it a couple more times and you’ll be stuck on it.
xFiruath: I listen to mostly extreme metal, so it’s kind of interesting for me listening to this and getting that more rock and roll vibe.
Lita: I think the music industry is starting to butt up against a wall. It doesn’t seem like it has anywhere to go, it’s just the same old, same old. I think it needs to turn around and come back away from that way. You climb to the top of the stairs and you’ve got nowhere else to climb, you’ve just got to turn around and go back down. When we first started making this record, Gary and I said to each other, let’s just keep this basic and not try to stack the lead vocals and layer the guitars, and do hours of ripping solos. We didn’t go out of our way to overplay to the point where we were bored with it.
xFiruath: Tell me about working with Gary and what sort of end sound were you going for? How does that whole production process work?
Lita: We wanted to get rid of the overdubs and special effects and try to make a real record with real musical instruments rather than all these electronic plugins and all that stuff. Like the Runaways days, we were able to just plug in our instruments and not re-do the vocals and not do layers and layers of harmonies. We really want to keep it simple and I think sometimes less is more. In this situation, on this album, it turned out that way. We’ve big holes in the choruses and verses where you can just sing through them and the voice really sticks out well, it’s not buried. You can really hear the words.
xFiruath: This album is being released on a different record label. How did you get hooked up with SPV and how’s it going so far?
Lita: It’s great, I love SPV. They’re so much a part of the project. SPV has been really supportive and that’s half the battle. Sometimes an artist will be signed and the label doesn’t want to be a part of the project. I can understand if the artist delivers a crappy album and the record company doesn’t really know what to do with it, but in this situation, I’ve had some great support from Maria over in SPV in New York and Ollie in Germany. We talk on a regular basis and we’re a team. Actually, Ollie came up with the album title. I presented two titles for him, one was going to be “Branded” and one was “Living Like A Runaway,” and everybody went “Living Like A Runaway!” The problem with that was at the time I hadn’t written the song yet, and I thought it’s such a great title, and if I don’t write a song, someone else was going to. So I had to hurry up and write that song, it took me about three days to put the song together. It really was a godsend, that song, because we started with nothing but the title. In three days we have a finished song, demoed, done, recorded. It’s a cool song.
xFiruath: What do you have lined up for live shows to support the release?
Lita: We’ve got the Def Leppard/Poison tour. We start June 20th in Salt Lake City and it’s approximately four months. The first leg in June and July, and then the second leg is August and September, and there’s a two week break in-between.
xFiruath: You’re somewhat of an iconic woman in rock and roll, and I’m wondering what your thoughts are on all female-fronted festivals and all-female fronted tour lineups, and would that be something you’d be interested in doing in the future?
Lita: Well, I would if it was the Runaways. There’s all kinds of lineups you can have and all kinds of wonderful musicians. Unfortunately Sandy’s not around anymore, the drummer, and she was such a huge part of the band. I don’t know if Joan Jett would do the band without Sandy. I would, I love Sandy and nobody will ever take her place, but there’s still me and Joan and Cherie. The Runaways had a couple of bass players and they were both great. I would love to do the Runaways again, maybe next year, 2013 would be a good time.
xFiruath: You did that famous song “Close My Eyes Forever” with Ozzy, and I’m wondering how that all went down and what you recall about that experience.
Lita: “Close My Eyes Forever” was a mistake, it was just me and Ozzy and Sharon hanging out at the recording studio. They showed up one day and had a housewarming present for me, it was a life size duplicate of Koko the gorilla from the San Diego Zoo. It was freaking huge, I had to strap it in the front seat of my jeep to get it home. Ozzy stayed, Sharon got bored and left, and me and Ozzy had a couple of drinks and we were jamming. There was a little side room with a guitar and keyboard and we started messing around, singing and playing, and we wrote “Close My Eyes Forever.” Next thing I know the sun was coming up. I looked at him and I went “Uh-oh, we’re in trouble.” Sharon had been waiting all night. We were in North Hollywood, which is kind of a long way from West Hollywood, where Ozzy had to go. He said to me, “Can you drive me home?” I said no, “No, I can’t drive!” We were stoned out of our minds so I told him he’d have to catch a taxi. He got in the cab and I strapped Koko into my jeep and drove home, just barely made it. And then we had this hit song. At the time Ozzy was voted best male vocalist in rock and I was voted best female vocalist in rock, so the timing was absolutely perfect.
xFiruath: Being a mom in a rock band, is that awkward for your kids, and how do you juggle those two different aspects of your life?
Lita: Well, right now my kids are homeschooled. I just filed for divorce and they are will their dad right now. If you listen to “Mother” it tells the story and the answer to that question. When they were touring with me it was easy because I would dress me up for the show and then dress them up. I would do their Mohawks and do their hair different colors and they would have fun. I bought them some scooters and they would scoot around a venue before the audience came in. The scooters these days are awesome and they would setup little jump ramps and have a blast. They loved their bunk in the tour bus and they’d go out and talk to the audience inbetween songs. They were just great. It was a lot of fun. There’s pictures of them on stage online. My oldest one plays guitar, he’s a brilliant player.
xFiruath: What else would you like to say about the new album?
Lita: I hope everyone enjoys it. It’s a lot to digest. It’s a very deep album and it’s not something you can just throw on and listen to once. One interview I did, I asked the girl if she listened to the CD and she said, “I listened to it while I was blow drying my hair,” and I thought you didn’t really listen to the record. You have to sit down and listen to the record and take in the lyrics, because each song will take you on a journey, they are very visual. They are some of the best lyrics and songs I’ve written, and I don’t want them to go unnoticed.
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