By Mike Bax
Lita Rossana Ford – a British-American guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. A punk icon turned rock icon. The lead guitarist for The Runaways in the late 1970s. Metal queen through the 1980s. Spokesperson against parental alienation. A living legend, really, with 40 PLUS years invested into the medium of rock and roll.
With a tell-all book on the way in 2016, a new album underway that is already half way to completion, along with an invigorated return to touring live, there’s no better time to witness Lita.
This weekend, Lita Ford will be playing in intimate concert in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Sunday August 9th. She’s promising a career-spanning set of music and is touring with a wonderful bunch of musicians. The admission is quite reasonable. TICKETS
Don’t miss out on a show that will surely be one for your 2015 yearbooks. Support from Diemonds and Fallen Heirs only sweetens the evening more.
Lita was good enough to answer a few questions for Lithium Magazine. Her answers to our questions lie below. We thank her for taking the time to make this possible.
Mike: When you look back on your career as a musician, you must visualize it in a timeline of sorts. Is this how you approached writing your biography Living Like A Runaway (due in early 2016)? Did you find writing this biography cathartic?
Lita: When I wrote Living Like A Runaway, I wrote about a lot of happy things, funny things, sexy things, fun times with people I love… and other people not so much. It was not cathartic because when you write these things you actually go there mentally, and some of these places were very painful, like the loss of my parents. Writing my album was cathartic; I really got to spew my guts in a different way. I think the cathartic part of the book will be when it comes out, and I get to talk about it.
Mike: How long did you spend writing Living Like A Runaway?
Lita: Wow! First I had to find the right writer, which was a task in itself. That took approximately 2.5 years, believe it or not. Then I had to write it. That took a year. It was a long journey with touring in between the writing. I sat the entire summer of 2014 writing my book while everyone else was out playing, and I didn’t let up. One gentleman that works for Harper Collins said, “If you want a great book you have to fight for it”. Boy… he was right!
Mike: Based on the descriptor for this upcoming book, it sounds like it’s a detailed history of your career and personal life; the good, the bad and ugly bits. Were you surprised by some of what went into the book once you got rolling with it? How comfortable are you knowing these aspects of your life are going to be available for public consumption?
Lita: No, not surprised. I gave Harper Collins what they wanted – a book on being Lita Ford in the music industry. The first girl, to play guitar in the punk era – girl, not woman. And my side of the story told, which is different than the other Runaways in some ways.
Mike: Do you ever read about yourself online? If so, how often do you see inaccuracies that live on the internet? Do you ever try and police these inaccuracies?
Lita: I try not to read the Internet because it will drive you crazy if you get stuck on it. But once in a while some false accusations will come up that will really piss me off. In the end, I always get to speak the truth. I do try to stop them, depending on what they are and how much of a chance I have to stop them. Otherwise, I will wait until the time is right. My fans do a lot of defending for me, too. I know they have my back.
Mike: Who do you consider to be the photographer(s) who has (have) captured the best photos of you over the years, Lita?
Lita: Neal Zlowzower, Herb Ritz, Gene Kirkland, and now there are a new breed of photographers coming up, like Dustin Jack.
Mike: Do you still find you get ‘magic moments’ as a musician? Moments where creating music seems like it’s coursing through your veins, and comes out of you easily?
Lita: Yes, but you have to put yourself in that frame of mind first – clear your head of other things, junk that gets in your way. Then you are free and clear to create.
Mike: How does it make you feel seeing a generational aspect at your concerts, where you’ll see moms and dads through to a younger generation of children all singing lyrics to your songs?
Lita: It makes me realize these children have been raised on the right music. LOL. Seeing people singing my songs is very cathartic for me because I know they understand the song, which means the world to me.
Mike: What would you describe the Lita Ford sweet-spot as being? (By this I mean your best recorded moment as a musician) And why?
Lita: I have 2 sweet spots. One would be the LITA XX album where everything seemed to align on its own – guest stars, great producer, Mike Chapman. And again after LITA XX, Living Like A Runaway came out. That album was very cathartic for me, so true and so Lita. I wrote it as I was going through my divorce, so a lot of what happened is all on that album. So many people relate to it in one shape or form.
Mike: What would you say is the easiest album you’ve made? What made it so easy?
Lita: The LITA XX album was the easiest. Although it wasn’t easy, otherwise everyone would have done it. LOL. But I had a great producer, Mike Chapman, and a great manager, Sharon Osbourne. And I had a great record company, BMG/RCA, who supported me and invested money into me and my album and videos, tour support and so on.
Mike: How about the other way – what’s the hardest album you have made, and why was it a struggle to make?
Lita: The hardest would have been AND NOW THE RUNAWAYS because the band was falling apart. We were done, unfortunately.
Mike: Do you consider yourself a musician who writes lyrics for your music, or music for your lyrics?
Lita: It goes both ways. There are no rules when it comes to writing a good song. I’ll take a good song anyway I can get it since great songs are so hard to come by.
Mike: Can you talk a bit about your current line-up (Patrick Kennison, Bobby Rock and Marty O’Brien)? How did you meet, what drew you to their particular talents?
Lita: Marty O’Brien was the first to come to the band. I had heard about Marty from John Moyer. So I checked him out and thought he was an extremely powerful bassist. His technique fit with what I wanted, and when I met him in person all of that was confirmed – a great, talented guy that is a monster on the bass. I love to play live with Marty, he’s a shaker and mover. Bobby Rock came to me through Gunnar and Mathew Nelson, my dear friends. I needed a drummer ASAP. Gunnar and Mathew Nelson came through and said we know this guy named Bobby Rock. I asked if he needed to rehearse. They said Hell no! Bobby is an athlete, an animal, has perfect meter, and is a gentleman with an incredibly loving and caring personality. He is the powerhouse – the locomotive behind the Ford!! And last but not least is Patrick Kennison – a hot looking dude that sings his ass off, which helps me carry the entire set vocally. He is a shredder on guitar, and adds a youthful feel to the band that we didn’t have before. Patrick is a 90’s dude, I am an 80’s chick. Together we work like peanut butter and jelly. And together with the rest of the band… well, I feel sorry for whatever band has to follow us after we’re done jamming.
Mike: What is life on the road like for you now? Are there creature comforts you can’t be without when you tour? Changes you can articulate regarding touring now as compared to 20 to 30 years ago?
Lita: Well, the fans are still the fans, now with children who are fans. The stage is the best place to because of the band members and crew. I absolutely feel it’s my favorite place to mess around and be free. The worst part of it is the flying. Airlines and the people who run them think they’re entitled to push you around like cattle – big fat flight attendants where they used to have tall and sleek, friendly woman who, when they walked by, everyone would look at their ass and legs then smile. Now we get bitched at. They’re overweight drill sergeants like they have some sort of superiority badge. Fuck them! Some are ok. The luggage in the overhead bins seems dangerous to me, but they charge SO MUCH money, people feel ripped off and can’t afford the outrageous prices for baggage. We travel with guitars and then our luggage. God forbid I should bring some luggage. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, you were allowed to smoke cigarettes on planes. Now you’re lucky to chew a piece of gum. Oh God… I could go on!
Mike: Are you planning a follow-up to 2012’s Living Like a Runaway album? How far along are you with it?
Lita: Yes, the new album is halfway written. I’m very excited for it. I think the fans will be surprised, too. You’ll see why.
Mike: I can still remember seeing the Out For Blood video in the early 1980s. I would have been about 16 years old when I saw it. I didn’t know anything about you at that time. It was pre-internet, and shown on an hour-long video show because we couldn’t get MTV here in Canada back then. I’m sure your outfit in the video was 50% of the reason I bought your album, but the REAL reason was the buzzsaw sound of your guitar playing, a style you can still crush with now. I was successfully marketed to, in 1983. I’m curious – if you were that woman now, in this day and age, do you think your ‘look’ would factor into your marketing the same way it did back then? What do you think Lita Ford might look like if she was starting her solo career right now?
Lita: I am a legend. Why would I start a solo career now? Ha Ha! Too many mountains to climb. But, most likely the same as I do now. I wear my cat suits like super hero out fits. They are a little creepy when they are just hanging on the door frame, it makes you feel like there is someone watching you. LOL. I feel good in my clothes. If not, you know you are wearing the wrong thing. It’s also good for your self-confidence to know you look good. A lot of thought went into those suits, designed by yours truly, made by Love Craft Leathers. Chris Francis is an algebra whiz, he’s an amazing designer. And then I top it off with Long Horn leathers who make my guitar straps, they make my belts and wrist cuffs. Wicked.
Mike: Are you still a music consumer? What’s the most recent piece of music you have heard that moved you in some way? Why do you think you had a reaction to it?
Lita: I like Pop Evil. ‘Trenches’ is a song I feel I can relate to. Not that I lived in the trenches, by any means, but I wanted to get out of where I was living before. The song is very radio friendly, too. Great album.
Mike: Can you recall the first time you performed in Canada? If so, can you remember the venue and any details about your impressions of Canada?
Lita: The first time we played in Toronto was at the El Mocambo club with The Runaways. My name is on the girl’s bathroom wall, under coats and coats of paint. I loved Toronto – the weather, beautiful city. Just the best place. Definitely one of my favorite places to play ever. You don’t have to twist my arm to come play in Canada. But you might have to twist it to leave.
Mike: What can fans expect from your upcoming Canadian shows, Lita? Are there songs YOU are excited to bring to the stage again?
Lita: We are all super excited to be coming to Canada. The entire band will rock your socks off. That’s a promise. We have Hollywood’s finest musicians, and together we are like Rolling Thunder. We play a couple of Runaways songs through to the latest and greatest. The Bitch is Back.
Mike: I know you have been involved in some philanthropy / charities over the past few years, supporting some causes you believe in. You can mention these here, and perhaps suggest what people can do to help show support?
Lita: Yes, thank you for asking. 9% of children die from parental alienation, something that needs to come out of the closet. That is a worldwide form of severe mental child abuse. If you Google Lita Ford’s Parental Alienation Awareness Facebook, you can read about it to see why it such an evil ugly form of abuse. It’s basically where one parent holds the child away, hidden, lied to, and brain washed against the other parent. The legal system does nothing to help the parents except take your money until you’re dead broke. The children are destroyed and no one has any money, except the legal department. My cause is called Kids First.
Mike: If you could, summarize into one sentence what your ‘mission statement’ might be Lita?
Lita: Bring awareness to alienation. Stop destroying our next generation of kids. Stop the abuse! Put Kids First!
There’s still a few meet and greet opportunities left for Toronto. $100 per person. Includes early entry, a Lita ‘swag bag’ and an after show hangout with Lita. PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name as it appears on your ID.