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“THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME,” exclaims Lita Ford when I mention her previous album, 2009’s Wicked Wonderland. “It was out of my control. There are so many devices and plug-ins and all kinds of crap on everything. That’s not who I am. When I first started playing, I figured if I couldn’t cut it as a guitar player just plugging straight into an amplifier, then I should stop playing guitar. Effects, layering, stacking—f**k that! Just plug in the damn guitar and play it.”
And that’s just what Ford and producer Gary Hoey did on her new release, Living Like a Runaway [SPV/Steamhammer].
“Gary got me immediately,” says Ford. “So this album was all about what I love about pure and basic rock music. We did vocals and guitars first, to ensure we captured the bare emotion of the songs, and then we cut bass and drums. If playing to a click track took away from the feel I wanted, then we didn’t use one. The other musicians had to play to my time.
“I’m a real feel person, and it was so great to get back to that. In fact, seeing a Pink Floyd documentary on VH1 Classics really inspired me while we were recording. Their stuff was so real—they just went with what was in their hearts and laid it down. That was it. And they’d come up with this beautiful journey of music. After watching that show, I was even more determined that nothing fake or calculated get on this album.”
Ford used mostly comfy “old friends” while tracking Living Like a Runaway.
“My BC Rich ‘Black Widow’ Warlocks are so damn powerful,” she says. “Nothing beats those. They’ve got the beef for big crunch power chords and long, sustaining solos. I’ve got preamp switches built into some of them, and when you click on the preamp, it will blow your ass through the freaking wall. I also used my BC Rich Stoli vodkabottle guitar—which sounds like death—a new DBZ Bolero, and a Taylor Grand Symphony acoustic. My favorite strings are GHS Boomers, gauged .009-.042, and I use this bizarre-looking pick that Ritchie Blackmore once gave me. I loved that pick so much I used it exclusively for three months during a Runaways tour with the Ramones. Happily, Pickboy makes them now—they used to be so hard to come by. For amps, we used Marshall JCM 800s, Peavey 5150s, and old Soldanos. My cables are Monster Cable and custom models from guitarcables.com with kill switches on the jacks.”
After a recent and ugly divorce (“I left with the shirt on my back”) — as well as suffering through career decisions made mostly by her former husband — Ford views Living Like a Runaway as a heartfelt manifesto of freedom and empowerment.
“I’m free to pursue my dreams now, and answer to no one,” she says. “What’s so great about rock music is that there are no rules. You can do whatever you want. So, right now, I’m just being Lita.”
Published by Michael Molenda, Guitar Player Magazine