Following the success of her true comeback album, 2012’s Living Like a Runaway, Lita Ford took to the stage at LA's Canyon Club to record a live performance as a gift to her fans.
The result is The Bitch is Back…Live, the new album from the reigning queen of hard rock and heavy metal.
In addition to live material from her latest studio release, The Bitch is Back also digs deep into Ford's catalog, showcasing songs from Out for Blood, Dancin' on the Edge and 1988's monster album, Lita.
Ford is hard at work on her biography [set for release in 2014] as well as becoming an advocate for Parental Alienation Awareness. I recently spoke with her about the live album, her current setup and an encounter she once had with Led Zeppelin.
GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to do this live album?
It was kind of spur of the moment. After we did the tour with Def Leppard and Poison [in 2012], I really wanted to give something back. So we jumped into this club in LA, mic'd up the room and recorded it. It's really a gift to the fans. Everything came together like magic and I'm very happy with it.
How would you describe the album?
I remember listening to Deep Purple's Made in Japan album, which was recorded in 1972. There was nothing on it but raw energy, and that's what you get with The Bitch is Back. There's a lot of emotion and aggression behind it. Plus, I've got a smoking hot band. Mitch Perry [guitar] and I can read each other like a book. We don't even have to speak. I've known him since 1983. He's like family.
Tell me about your new duet with fellow Runaways bandmate Cherie Currie.
Last year, one of my old drummers [Rodger Carter] called me up a week before Christmas and asked me about doing a Christmas song. I told him I was interested, but didn't want to do another version of "Jingle Bells." I wanted to write something new. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get it together in time. This year, I called and asked him about doing it again. So we went into the studio and wrote “Rock This Christmas Down."
Around that same time, I got a call from Cherie. I asked her what she was doing and if she'd like to sing on the song with me. She flew in from a gig she did in Chicago, got off the plane and came right over to the studio and put down the lead vocal track with me. We’re hoping to release it in time for Christmas.
You’re a proponent of Parental Alienation Awareness. What can you tell us about that?
It's a horrible thing and really should not be legal in any country. Its child abuse of the worst kind. The only reason I think it's legal is because the attorneys are making so much money off of it. If you're not familiar with parental alienation, I suggest you go to the website and read about it. It needs to be outlawed and I'm all for bringing it to an end.
Let's talk a little about your setup. I hear you're a big fan of the old Marshalls.
I am. I use the early '80s JCM 800's. They have a ballsy, crunch sound to them. It's something you really can't get these days without adding all kinds of effects and garbage to your sound. I relate it to having an old car. The cars that were built in the late '70s were strong and beefy. They had a lot of room inside. Whereas if you buy a car today, it's little and loaded up with a lot of electronics. And if you get into an accident, you're fucked! [laughs]. The old Marshalls were built similar to the old cars. They're stronger, more reliable and there's less fiddling about with electronics and things you don't need.
What does the Lita Ford pedalboard look like?
My pedalboard is very minimal. Even when I first started playing, I didn't use many effects and never wanted to. I figured if you couldn't just play a guitar when it's plugged into an amplifier, then you're not a guitar player. I started playing like that and slowly added some delay, just to give it a bit of a bigger sound. It makes you sound like you're in a big room, even when you're not and also helps make your solos more fluent. After that, I added a Jerry Cantrell wah-wah, which adds an edge and gives me a lot of control over the tone of my solos.
Can you tell us the story about the encounter you once had with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page?
I remember I was on stage with the Runaways in a club called Gazzarri's, and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page came to see us play. After the show, we all went upstairs to say hello. We gave them both a few Runaways T-shirts and then Plant says to me, "Hey, you're pretty good. Do you play bass?" And I thought ... "WHAT?? [laughs]. But he was serious. I guess there was some weird turmoil they were going through at the time, but John Paul Jones is one of my favorite bass players of all time, and no one could replace him.
What else can fans expect from your upcoming biography?
Everyone has their own story, but mine is told from a female point of view. It goes from one extreme to another. From good to evil, with a lot of rock and roll along the way. And my story’s not over. There are still chapters to be written.
Photo: Kitty Rossander
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.