I had a dream and I followed it…Failure did not enter the vision. I don’t know. There might be a quote in there somewhere. – Lita Ford
Lita Ford is an icon for rock perseverance, regardless of your generation or gender. That voice. That smile. That take charge stage presence. Lita’s can’t miss songwriting with big hooks but gritty soul stands out from the pack to this day, no matter the twists and turns her life takes. New live album The Bitch Is Back…Live is fierce as fuck, fun as spontaneity and you can sing-a-long too!
The new live record, on the heels of her TRUE comeback album (2012’s Living Like A Runaway), is a gift to her fans and anyone who loves rock n roll. Recorded live at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California in October of 2012, the album jumps from the speakers. “Devil in My Head” has a very Alice In Chains circa “Man In The Box” feel. The title track (an Elton John cover) is translated into Lita style Power Pop/Hard Rock that is pure ear candy with punch. “Close My Eyes Forever” (with vocals solely done by Lita) is an awesome treat, her persona strong enough to carry the whole song atop the sparse and shimmering dream dark guitar.
“Let’s play ‘Back to the cave’,” Lita purrs at one point. She is in command and just such a natural. Her stage presence and effortlessly asserted personality comes through on the live recordings, a rare feat to pull off for even seasoned musicians.
Click HERE for the MR chat with Lita!
(Lita caught my phone call just running in the door from an enjoyable 955KLOS Radio interview.)
I don’t know if you’re familiar with KLOS. The radio station here in L.A. We’re doing a benefit for multiple scle…ro..sis (jokingly). That is a bitch to say. We’re doing an MS benefit and we just went down and let everybody know we’re gonna be jamming’ at the Whiskey. There’s a whole buncha celebrities involved. It’s gonna be awesome. Just reading about MS and learning what it does, they need to do more research on why this happens and how they can fix it. They can put a man on the moon but not figure out something scientifically wrong with your brain.
I’m not a doctor.
I know. That’s why we’re musicians and journalists.
Glad you’re doing your part, for what it’s worth. And also it’s so nice you are gigging a lot again. I was so glad to get this album promo. By the way, everyone I know that I told about this interview said to please tell you that they absolutely love you.
Aww, that’s so cool. thank you. tell everybody I love them too.
What led to this live album now?
No real reason, other than we kind of wanted to give the fans a thank you. We wanted to give something to the fans that was personal and this album was actually created by the fans. The artwork was done by the fans. The show was recorded in one go. It wasn’t something we did over multiple recordings. We just went out there. We picked our hometown. It was easier to record. We had our engineer. We didn’t have to fly anybody in or ask for permission from the club. All that kinda legal bullshit. So all that was bypassed and we were able to perform at home. The Canyon Club, in Los Angeles.
It’s your real vibe.
It really is. We just got the albums. The very first copies just came in. The first people who got a copy was KLOS. They played a couple tracks. It was really cool being there as they played it. The first song is ‘”The Bitch Is Back”, which starts off the cd. And it says “Heelllloooo, Los Angelessss”! And it was like so cool to be at a Radio Station playing “The Bitch Is back” for the first time. And the second track they picked was ‘Living Like A Runaway”. I talk a lot about having grown up on the streets of Hollywood and all the great bands. That whole era. Then it goes into the song. So it really was very cool to actually play it the first time live on air to the hometown.
Something like this, you are at this chapter of your life. Do you ever look back and say ,”Wow. I can’t believe this has been my life”?
No. It’s believable. Um…Why is it believable? I saw my life, when I was thirteen years old. You either do or you don’t. I was one of those people that did. I had a vision. I followed it. I had a dream and I followed it. It’s happening. Am I surprised? No. There was no failure involved. It didn’t enter the vision, if that makes any sense. Failure did not enter the vision. I don’t know. There might be a quote in there somewhere.
(Ford was very friendly and awesome, but spoke with a well earned measure of certainty in her voice throughout most of the interview.)
My partner has a 4 year old daughter. We try to not hide rock n roll from her. She loves Peter, Bjorn and John and Ceremony and Baroness. She can encounter the world. I was showing her pictures of your new album cover today and she thought it was so cool to see a real lady rocker! She loved your red guitar and always seems to know when someone is empowered. It’s cool to see somebody so young respond to that.
I know! I have a lot of young followers. It’s something I never had as a young musician. I never had a female guitar player. There were women out there who played guitar. They weren’t necessarily metal. There weren’t any girls. You think about it. The Runaways were just young girls. Cherie was 15, for god sakes.
Oh yeah. You were the groundbreaking band. That’s the one everyone talks about still.
God bless you. That’s like…being one of the first of anything is always a fucking task. I was reading about Mae West and her role in preceding the sexual revolution recently on my . It’s the same thing. You are so hyper analyzed but still trying to be a human being. I can only imagine how intense it must have been.
Yeah, it was really wild. Everyone expects so much of you all the time, when really you are just a person like everybody else.
Any advice for anyone in music, fashion or the art world – male or female – who wants to make a mark? Without hurdles knocking them down.
Well, if you want to do something different you have to jump hurdles in order to break that ground. There’s no other way around it. So I suggest you jump the hurdles…and jump ’em gooood.
Let’s talk about the Elton cover. I love Elton and never minded some of the more piano based Guns N’ Roses songs, for example, because Axl always said he was a huge Elton fan. What drew you to Elton John?
It’s the emotion and story behind each song he put out. It was part of the soundtracks of our lives, many of us. Who the hell doesn’t love Elton John? Even us metallists. It was such an appropriate song and it came at such an appropriate time, also. I heard it on the radio one day and I thought, (gasping) “Uhhhh! Duhhh!!!” (lightbulb goes off). It was the perfect title and exactly what i’m trying to do (laughing). Make a comeback. The bitch is back!
Well, your voice sounds great on it. My favorite solo Lita song has long been “Back to The Cave” and I pulled up the video this morning. I love the mood of that song. The music has a slinky, sexy and groove with some blues. Music now is so processed. Your music has feel and soul but is still memorable. You’re doing the shit yourself.
I didn’t cut and paste on Living Like A Runaway. We decided to sing out each part or it was too easy. The one thing about cut and paste is if you take one chorus and cut and paste it, the song becomes the same. There might be a different inflection in your words or guitar part that made each chorus special. You don’t want to cut and paste and take away those little inflections, pieces of attitude. You know what I mean?
Yeah, that could be the little snarl in the second verse that really snags somebody.
Yeah. We don’t wanna take that away. That’s cheating and it doesn’t work for your benefit, unless it’s some subliminal keyboard that no one gives a shit about. I don’t know. Today’s recording is so different…come here, sweetie.
Sorry? (eyebrow raised)
I’m feeding my dog (laughing). I wasn’t talking to you (laughing harder).
(laughing) What kind of dogs do you have?
People laugh at me because of the breed, but I have chihuahuas.
Me too! (fist pumps air)
I’m not one of those “girls with a chihuahua”. (laughing)
I have them because they are travel sized. It’s all about how you raise your dogs, too. It’s like the parents are what makes the kids. These are road dogs. They get their own bunk on the bus, believe it or not.
I believe it! Chihuahuas are naturally more aggressive than pits. They have a Napoleon complex, so that’s pretty metal.
They totally do! I have a picture of my dog. Cono, named after the Mexican pastry. She weighs four lbs. She’s five years old. The other day we were on my back deck and there was a praying mantis. This fucking thing was huge. I’ve never seen a thing as big as this praying mantis. My dog had it and was playing with it and this thing had it’s claws out. It had wings out. I took a picture of the dog with the mantis and the caption was “finally! something smaller than me.” (laughing)
This time of year is the Fall. Do you have any particular Halloween rituals you enjoy?
You know I don’t have my children. You know that, don’t you?
Yes, to some degree.
Hey! Dogs. No fighting. When I had my kids, and I know they miss this…we would do the house up in blood and decorate with all these crazy decorations. Big rattlesnakes and skeletons. All that shit. The kids would do outfits and dress up. We had a Halloween party every year. We’d do games. I was the mom that put on the party for Halloween. It was so fun.
You had a difficult divorce and I think people admire that you are still putting yourself out there even through vulnerable moments and are making art and being strong.
Well, I’ve heard it helps other people too to say I understand. It’s not right. It’s wrong. let’s try and fight this together. So you become an activist in things. Sometimes you’ve got your leaders and followers. You have people with a voice and people with no voice. I don’t mean a singing voice. I mean being able to get the word out. That’s why the MS benefits come to rock stars because we have a voice and people may listen. That’s why I speak out and make myself vulnerable.
Cynical people say musicians just do that for attention, but if you meet enough musicians you know that for all the fake people there are many who want to help people and spread good messages. they love their fans.
I talked to David Draiman recently about Device’s cover of “Close My Eyes Forever” ,with Lzzy Hale. He gushed about how much he loves you and Ozzy and meant it with the utmost respect.
Yeah, they did a real nice job on their version. Which is what it should be. It should be their version of what it should sound like for them. Like, for instance, me doing my version of Elton John, it was the version for me. That’s what works. If it’s gonna be a cover song you have to own it and make it your own. I think they did. They made it their own.
That’s one that if you’re not gonna do a decent job you shouldn’t go near! It’s so iconic.
Thanks. And that was the feeling also when we recorded the song “The Bitch Is Back”. We thought we’d give it a try and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
You’ve been a million places and rocked them all. Anyplace you’d still like to play? Have you played Copenhagen, for example?
Yeah. We played Scandinavia. We played Australia. Hoping to get over to Europe next year. We played on the Monsters of Rock cruise, which was fun. We played all sorts of festivals with different artists. I’m taking the rest of the year to finish my book. We have a few sporadic shows but I am trying to get my book done. It’s due in 2014. I’m working on a new record. I’ve got a Christmas single coming out after The Bitch Is Back…Live. It’s done. It’s me and Cherie Currie from The Runaways. It’s not a cover. We wrote it!
Awesome. I love her duet with Danzig recently…and now this! So stoked.
It’s like Aerosmith or something. Starts singing “Last Child”…”Take me back to South Tallahassee. Down cross the river to my sweet sassafras see!” Then this beautiful Christmas chorus. So it’s half rock n roll and half Christmas. ” What do you want for Christmas? I want a new Les Paul, man!”
(I take a moment to recover from the life affirming awesomeness of having Lita Ford sing Aerosmith to me over the phone. Deep breath.) How did it feel to work on that with her?
It was great. We were like two stupid giddy little kids in the studio. Laughing at each other. (in bubbly, girly voice) “Hey, let’s pour some champagne! Ok!” (laughing)
Can you talk about your pending book?
It’s Harper Collins and I am working with Marissa Mateo. She has had best sellers with Harper Collins before and written seven books, so she’s quite the author. We’re having a blast. It’s almost like, maybe we shoulda done two books!
Is this a way to tell more of your side of things? People saw the Runaways movie and wanted more Lita!
I don’t know if that was really a Runaways movie. It was more a movie of Joan and Cherie’s side of things. Things were left out we wanted to touch on. I spent seven hours in Kim Fowley’s house the other day, talking about The Runaways. We hadn’t communicated in a long time. 1979 was when I saw Kim last, and I came up to him at a party, had a brief conversation and I walked off. That was it. Things change. People change.
Could you give a shout out to the fans? We love you so much. This was awesome.
Sure! I hope you love the Bitch Is Back…Live. We wanted to give you something in return for being there for me and for my band. Thank you for your photographs and for being there. The Bitch Is Back is dedicated to the fans.
Photos (except for autograph) by Kitty Rossander