In the '80s, Lita Ford was one of the most prominent female voices in hard rock. With hits such as "Kiss Me Deadly" (which was named the 76th "Greatest Hard Rock Song Of All-Time" by VH1), "Back To The Cave," and "Close My Eyes Forever," she was on a winning tear.
Plus she still had (and has) oodles of street-cred for being a part of what many call one of the first modern punk bands, the Runaways.
After a decade-long hiatus and 2009's Wicked Wonderland, Ford is back with her latest record, Living Like A Runaway. Rocks Off caught up with Ford via phone and talked to her about that new disc, the upcoming Monsters of Rock Cruise, and touring with Poison and Def Leppard. She will be appearing on the Rock Of Ages tour with Def Leppard and Poison this Saturday at 7 pm at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
Rocks Off: So I went on your Facebook fan page and noticed the picture of your guitar in Portland. Is that model a custom model?
Lita Ford: Yes it is. The BC Rich Warlock just came out a month ago. It is a custom model. They took the original, my Black Widow Warlock and duplicated it and it is for sale, which is pretty damn cool because that guitar has been around for a long time. Its just cool to have your own signature model. The dimensions are exact - the frets, pickups, the electronics -- everything is exact as to what mine is.
RO: Your new album is called Living Like A Runaway, which the song itself seems to be a bit autobiographical when it talks about your life in Los Angeles.
LF: It's about the decades in my life from being in the Runaways and up until 2012. I remember when I was seventeen and riding in the back of a black limousine. They're all true stories. The whole album is actually all true stories.
RO: One of the standout tracks from your new album is called "Hate." Needless to say, it has some rather powerful lyrics.
LF: I started writing that song years ago. I think it was left over from Dangerous Curves. We started writing the verse, but didn't have a chorus. I loved it so much. I love the lyric and I love the direction that its going in. But it got to the point that we didn't need it because the album was done, so we shelved it. When we started writing Runaway, I dug it back out and I thought "Now is the time to finish this song."
There's just so many things that have happened over the last few years with 9/11, the Columbine shootings, the Colorado massacre, all these horrible things. I wrote the song before the Colorado shooting. It was just ironic that that happened again with the Empire State Building -- all these bad things going on. What kind of mind or person does something like that? It just made me wonder.
When I originally started to write the lyrics to "Hate," I had Natural Born Killers in mind. I took it to [our record producer] Gary Hoey. We were able to finish the song with Michael Dan Emigh, our lyricist. The three of us got together and we were able to finish the song and give it the music quality it deserves. It's such a powerful lyric that it needed a powerful soundtrack to go along with it. We couldn't find one. We threw around all kinds of ideas. It was a real challenge.
Finally, at the very end, we came up with this very real nasty, industrial-type riff. It's a very monotone vocal. You can almost see your chin in the palm of your hands, just holding your face up with your elbows on your knees, just sitting there singing this monotone lyric.
It's all attitude, which was really, really hard to do. It doesn't sound like it, but sometimes the simplest things are the hardest things and that was one of them. That's such a heavy duty statement.
RO: One of the things I like about your new album is that it still stays true to your signature sound. Who would you say influenced you the most as an artist -- past or present?
LF: Nobody influenced Living Like A Runaway -- that was just me and Gary [Hoey]. We didn't listen to anybody else. We didn't even know what was going on in the music industry at that point. We locked ourselves away in his studio and we didn't want to hear what anybody else had to say. We just blocked out the world -- literally.
That album was recorded on a mountain in New Hampshire, where there were no people, no distractions. We were able to focus on nothing but this record. So there were no influences and no inspiration.
RO: I heard next you will be doing the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2013.
LF: It's a four-day cruise, which I'm really excited about. I've never been on a cruise before, if you can believe that. It's with Tesla and some other bands. It's through the Bahamas and out of Fort Lauderdale.
We do two headlining shows. I don't know what the other bands do but it sounds like a freakin' blast. It's one big party for four days. We're gonna play a lot of the new album. Our new album sounds so good live because of the way it was recorded. It really kicks ass live. We do it acoustically and it sounds good.
RO: You are on tour with Poison and Def Leppard on the Rock Of Ages tour. What's it been like touring with those guys?
LF: It's been a challenge. We're the support on the tour and we only have a limited amount of time onstage. So we have to get as much in as we can. It's been great because, by the time we're done with our set, the place is full. Usually, when you're the support act, the place is half empty.
There's a lot of Lita Ford fans out there. Just as long as they don't get stuck in concert traffic and they're able to make it on time, we usually have everyone's hands in the air by the end of our set, which is awesome..
The Def Leppard guys are so good. Poison has been so kind to us. It's been a really awesome summer. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my summer. It's an absolute godsend.
RO: I know lately you have also contributed music to many video games such as Brutal Legend. What got you into such a unique project as that?
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LF: They called me and asked me if I would do the voice-over for Queen Rima in the game. What's cool is I'm in good company with Jack Black, Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, and Ozzy. They just needed a heavy metal chick to do Queen Rima. But it's cool because I got a beast I get to ride and lead my troops into battle. It's pretty cool. I even get electrocuted and beat to hell but, no matter what, I always bounce back.
RO: Switching gears, I know you have done many collaborations including a duet with Ozzy, plus songwriting with Nikki Sixx. Which one has been the most memorable to you?
LF: The song with Ozzy ("Close My Eyes Forever") is the biggest-selling song. Everybody knows "Close My Eyes Forever", I just start playing it live and I don't even have to introduce it and the audience goes mad. "Falling In and Out of Love", the one I wrote with Nikki, is popular too.
I guess my most memorable song would be "Close My Eyes Forever." Ozzy just showed up at the studio with Sharon. We started drinking some wine and playing pool. Sharon got bored and left. Ozzy and I went into this little room that was off to the side of the studio, with a keyboard, guitar, and a few amps. We went in there and just started jamming. We came out with "Close My Eyes Forever." It was an accident. I guess that's how some things -- the best things -- end up happening. By accident.