Following up on last year's excellent Living Like a Runaway record, Lita Ford has just released a live record called The B*tch is Back. Hot tunes. Hot show. Hot lady. And I got to speak with her recently to talk all about it.
antiMusic: Congratulations on the live record. It's excellent from start to finish. We both know some live albums can be, you know, hit or miss and maybe with a couple of high points here and there but this one is excellent all the way through. Why was it important for you to do another live album at this time?
Lita: Ah, it was just something we wanted to do. There was no real given reason and also right now I'm writing my book. I'm just finishing up my book so it is something we wanted to put out while I took the holiday season to finish up my book. It's just a rockin' gift to the fans, dedication to the fans I should say. A rockin' dedication.
antiMusic: What was it about this particular performance that you thought was a perfect representation of Lita Ford show?
Lita: It was special to us because it was our hometown, Los Angeles. We'd just finished the Def Leppard/Poison tour and we were glad to be home. It was just a special moment for us. We recorded the entire show in its entirety. It's all one show. It's not chopped up in little pieces, you know, like taking one gig here, one gig there. So it's just recorded all the way through. The Canyon Club, where we recorded it, is an intimate little club in the canyon, just outside of Los Angeles. It's where a lot of people play locally. So it was easy to mic and prepare the room for the drum sound, the vocal sound, rather than playing it in an arena, it was just easier to mic.
antiMusic: Did you have to do many touch ups on this set?
Lita: Not at all.
Lita: Not at all. I know. The band was hot coming off the tour. We did clean up some drum noise but that's pretty typical when you're playing live; you're going to have noise. So some of it's still in there, and some of it isn't.
antiMusic: That's amazing because the sound is just so clean, vocals are spot on, and wow…so it was just an inspired night I guess.
Lita: Ah, I sang my ass off that night. (laughs)
antiMusic: The Elton John song has taken on a featured part of your live show obviously. What was it about this song that resonated so strongly with you?
Lita: It's kind of an appropriate title, "The B*tch Is Back". It's kind of a no brainer, you know. It speaks for me. (laughs) The song speaks for me; The B*tch Is Back. Everyone was asking me, "Are you back? Are you REALLY back? Are you really back now, or are you going to go away for another 15 years?|" No, I'm back. The B*tch is back. So it was a no brainer. Our version is a little more guitar heavy than piano heavy of course. So when you do a cover of somebody's song, you want to own it and not try to copy the original artist too much. You know, we stuck with the original arrangement of the song because Elton John's arrangement couldn't be beat and but we just made it more guitar heavy.
antiMusic: Your new songs come across really well live. "Relentless" is exactly that. Tell us about writing that one.
Lita: "Relentless" (sings first bars of the song) That's a badass tune. That song was written and recorded up at Gary Hoey's studio in New Hampshire, with just an accumulation of stories that we were telling to each other during the making of the album. Just about being badass and just keep plodding through, and pushing through and being relentless. It's got a great riff. I love the riff on it.
antiMusic: Absolutely. The title track of your last record plays really well live as well. It's got a great hook, but yet it still rocks. It's a good balance for some of the heavier material like "Relentless". Does it still conjure up memories of getting started in this business when you play it?
Lita: Ah, definitely. (sings "Living like a runaway"). Yeah, it does. Originally, I had started writing this song about me running away from my home, from my divorce. That's how the title originally came about. And you can read about that in the book. It's coming out in March with Harper Collins. And then of course, how can you have a song called "Living Like A Runaway" and not include The Runaways. So I had to include The Runaways in "Living Like A Ruanaway". (laughs) And it think a lot of people relate to the lyrics, you know, "even though my mind was wasted, I still did the best I could." I think a lot of people could relate to the lyrics on the album and on that song.
antiMusic: "Devil in My Head" has a really nasty, dirty riff as well. What usually comes to you first, the riff or the melodic vocal hooks?
Lita: "Devil in My Head" is a drop D tuning which gives it that nasty sound. So we just tuned down and messed around and came up with that riff. The song, "Devil in My Head" started out as being, "the Angel On My Shoulder". You know how they say you have a devil on one shoulder and angel on the other? And we started writing this song about his angel on my shoulder and I thought "it just doesn't work". It doesn't fit. It just doesn't work. And then we came up with this great chorus, (sings) "Love don't come easy like a lonely soul like me. I find myself in trouble on the road to misery. I tried to do the right thing but I'm easily misled. I'm drawn to the dark side and the devil in my head." And I went, 'there's our title." Devil in my head. Screw the angel on my shoulder. (laughs)
antiMusic: "Back To the Cave", features some great trading of licks with Mitch. You got some great support with a pretty experienced bunch of guys.
Lita: I've really got a great band. "Back to the Cave" turned into a guitar jam which sometimes you see, and sometimes you don't. One of the best memories I ever had of seeing my favourite rock bands growing up was a duelling guitar solo done by Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner in Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare Tour.
Lita: And ever since then I always wanted to do a duelling guitar solo. And it just felt right in the middle of "Back to the Cave", where Mitch and I go off and play together. And since we've made the live album we make even more of a production out of it now. We just go off and play. And our drummer and our bass player just kind of hang back and wait for us to be done (laughs). Whenever we give them the cue, we go back into the riff of the song and end it. But it's exciting. It's like having sex with your guitars.
antiMusic: "Hate" is pretty nasty riff-wise as well. I guess the lyrical content speaks for itself. But I musically how did it come together.
Lita: Oh, yeah. I started writing "Hate" about 20 years ago. And it came at a time when my album was done and I didn't need any more songs. So we started writing "Hate" and then just left it. We didn't need it. We never finished the lyrics, never finshed the music. And it just sat there. When we wrote Living Like A Runaway, I referred back to "Hate" because I've never forgotten that lyric. It was such a great lyric. But it didn't have any music and it needed to be finished. So we did, we finished it and put some music to it and came out with this amazing dark, deep song.
It was based on Natural Born Killers, the movie Natural Born Killers and it pretty much is about people that do these horrible ugly things. I mean the mentality of these people that they're able to go in and shoot people like a Santa Monica school, the Colorado shootings, I mean this is all just recent. That song came out prior to those shootings. That song applies to that kind of stuff. And these people become famous!! Because they kill people. It's disgusting. There was some controversy recently with the guy on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.
antiMusic: Yeah, the Boston bombing suspect.
Lita: Yeah. People were asking "Why the f*** would you put HIM on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine?" I mean…Really? They turn them out to be like famous people.
antiMusic: Yeah, like rock stars.
Lita: It's just gross.
antiMusic: At this point, you've got a pretty good back catalogue of stuff. There's some things that aren't in your set. How do you choose what's in and what's out?
Lita: We didn't have any keyboards when we did this live album, just strictly guitar album. And not having keyboards limited our selection of songs. We weren't able to play "Shot of Poison" or "Playin' With Fire" or stuff like that so we stuck with songs that we could play without keys even though "Close My Eyes Forever" and "Kiss Me Deadly" still have keyboards in them, we were able to cover those parts on guitar. So they're really not missed. We wanted to do a guitar riffy tour and take the keys out.
antiMusic: You were part of a partnership for the last 18 years or so. Was it liberating to hit the road and get out and tour on your own totally in control of your own destiny or was it frightening to be doing it alone.
Lita: No, I was never alone. I was born an only child and I like to be…I LIKE be alone. Although I'm not alone. I have a wonderful manager. I have a wonderful team of people that work with me. And they were there with me from the beginning and supported me through the entire making of the album. So I was never really alone alone. I don't mind being alone sometimes just to think because when you've got people in your face all the time, you can't think. And you can't create. You can't be creative when you've got somebody in your face all time telling you what to do.
antiMusic: Since we're here to discuss your live record, a couple of questions about playing live: first, do you remember the very first time you began to feel really comfortable in front of big crowds that you must of faced with the Runaways, as the success built.
Lita: Oh, yeah.
antiMusic: Like I can't imagine you felt comfortable the first few shows especially with people like Page and Plant being in the audience
Lita: Ah yeah. I was pretty secure with myself. I mean stage fright…if you're talking about stage fright, that's a whole different thing. I think everybody gets the before-the-show jitters. I think if you don't get them, then you don't care. I think being nervous or getting the jitters is part of just caring about what you do. I think anybody would get the jitters.
It depends if, like you're a doctor and you're going into major surgery. You've got to have some kind of butterflies in your stomach. You don't want that person to die. You're taking pride in your work so you get nervous. It's just part of it. These people who say, "I don't get nervous before a show." Well you probably do. It's like, "I gotta piss!" And then you go in there to take a piss and nothing comes out. You know? Then well, "wow, I guess I've got the before-the-show jitters!" (laughs)
antiMusic: You've toured with a lot of bands. Were there any bands that you maybe weren't really a fan of initially or didn't really know well and you became fans or friends after that? I'm thinking of maybe someone like Rush who you guys played with a little bit.
Lita: Oh that was a weird bill.
antiMusic: Yeah, a little bit. (laughs)
Lita: I'm reading Neil Peart's book right now. He's very intelligent. Very, very intelligent and I'm finding it hard to put down. That would probably be the oddest pairing of bands. But The Runaways drew. We drew a crowd and I think that promoter, whoever booked those shows would be more concerned with filling the arena and I know that Rush don't need any help but maybe at that time they might have. I don't know. And then there's the story behind what happened to him, I never knew since they really stayed to themselves.
antiMusic: What's the worst end-of-tour prank you've ever had played on you?
Lita: (laughs) Ah, hmmm. Well…
antiMusic: Or that you've played on someone…
Lita: Hmm. There's been a few. I think you're going to have to get the book for that one.
antiMusic: (laughs) Alrighty.
antiMusic: I can only imagine. Last question. You've spent some time in the company of Grandpa Supersonic. What can you tell us about any magic created there?
Lita: Are you talking about Kim Fowley?
antiMusic: Yeah. That's what he calls himself.
Lita: Oh. It is? (laughs) I didn't know. He wrote some songs for Cherie and he just wanted to say hello. So I went with Cherie and we went over to say hello to Kim. Cherie and I actually just wrote a Christmas song. I actually wrote it with Mitch Perry my guitar player. And the two of us wrote this song and that Cherie and I sang together. So that'll be coming out soon after the live album.
antiMusic: Excellent. So it will be out in time for this year.
Lita: Yeah. It's rockin'. It's a rockin' tune. Very, very cool.
Morley and antiMusic thank Lita for taking the time to speak with us.
Preview and purchase the album here.
Visit Lita's official homepage here.