Even over the phone, the fatigue is clearly evident in Lita Ford’s voice. She’s calling from the East Coast, and asked how things are on the other side of the continent, she replies “I don’t know, I just landed! I came from Chicago; we did the Days of the Dead convention. I got stuck in a tornado and the planes weren’t taking off, everything was delayed, it was a mess. I ended up spending most of the night in the airport, talking to fans. We just got in a little while ago. I rented a car and drove to Tampa. I’m actually in the Safety Harbor area–I’m in a resort in the Safety Harbor area. I’m wrecked. We’ve been touring since last year, June 2012, so I’m ready for a vacation.”
The reason Ford has been touring since June 2012 is that was when her latest studio album, Living Like a Runaway was released. Described as her “true comeback album,” the songs are very personal and deeply introspective. Four of those tunes are featured on her most recent release The Bitch is Back…Live, which was recorded at the Canyon Club in Southern California last October.
Ford speaks about Living Like A Runaway, and what the album means to her. “The whole record is really intense. All the crap I’ve been through in the last 17 years–it’s all on Living Like a Runaway. There’s nothing fake about it. A think that a lot of people who have gone through hell, or just dealing with the daily grind can appreciate it.”
“Writing the songs and making the record was…it was difficult, and at first, I hesitated. I thought ‘I don’t know if this is gonna come across.’ It’s either gonna come across really cheesy, or it’s gonna come across like I feel it—real heartfelt. Thank God it worked. It came across to the point where I get grown men crying when they listen to it. I just poured my heart out on this album. It really came across…The Devil in My Head, these songs are so deep.”
People who are not in the public eye, when faced with intense personal issues, have various ways of dealing with those issues. They can see a therapist, talk with friends, and/or get support through online forums. Whatever they choose, there is a certain aspect of anonymity and privacy–all of which is very, very different from standing on stage and singing about those problems for all the world to hear. Ford admits how tough that can be. “Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean. Some people don’t have the balls to do that. I was going through it at the time when I wrote the album. I was going through some wacky shit in my divorce, it was on a day-to-day basis. It was a nightmare. I was just writing down what was happening, and it actually made it easier for me to write the album because I was living it at the time, and I was explaining things to Gary [Hoey], the producer and co-writer on the album. I was telling him stories, and he was able to write stuff down that I was telling him, so it was real. Which is why, on the cover of Living Like a Runaway, it’s not a glamorous cover. It’s just me standing on a railroad track.”
The discussion moves to the live album, the comment is made that a lot of what makes The Bitch Is Back…Live so powerful is the interplay between Ford and second guitarist Mitch Perry. Harmony leads, call-and-response solos, and just having that rhythm guitar to fill in the sound while the other is soloing. “When I first started as a solo artist, I was the only guitar player for quite a long time. I had to prove myself first as a guitar player. I did Out For Blood, which was only a three-piece band. We toured a lot off the album. Then I was slowly able to add another guitar player. I agree with what you say about having two guitar players in the band. Mitch and I have an amazing relationship on stage. It’s almost like we’re fucking each other on stage with our guitars, and it comes across when you listen to it, that vibe—it’s almost erotic in a way. I’ve known Mitch since the early 80’s, and because of that, we partied together, we jammed together, we’ve busted down doors and said ‘Hey, we’re taking over this party’ and we end up on stage, we’ve hell raised together. And now, having been gone for a while and come back with the Living Like a Runaway album, the first person I went to was Mitch, and said ‘Hey, you want to do this tour with me?’ It was just like getting back on stage with my old brother. We have a special bond, and musically, we read each other real well. We make a good team. I’m glad you picked up on that. My band is smokin’ hot, (Marty O’Brien on bass and Bobby Rock on drums round out the group) and together we kick ass.”
One would think that recording a live album is a breeze compared to the process that goes into a studio album. With a studio album, there are endless rehearsals, experiments with the arrangements of the songs, tracking sessions, and overdubs. For a live album, a band simply goes on stage and plays. Piece of cake, right? No so fast! “It was a whole different ballgame,” says Ford. “Recording the live album was a high-stress day. Not only were we recording live, but we recorded it in our hometown, and we had tons of people there that showed up. Our booking agent, management, BC Rich guitars, people from the Def Leppard/Poison tour, it was just pandemonium. A very busy day, and a very high-profile gig. But it was cool, because we were able to knock it out in one show, and I felt at home and very comfortable with everybody there. With an audience where everybody’s your friends and family members it makes it really enjoyable, and it was rockin’.”
After touring so extensively, is it time for Ford to take a long break and relax over the holidays? Hardly. “We have a book coming out in March 2014, so we’re trying to get the book finished, and we’re going to take December to try and do that.” If the book mirrors the intensity of Living Like a Runaway, which is basically a tale of Ford’s musical history from her earliest days with The Runaways to the present day, it will be something that is eagerly anticipated.
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