“When it comes to metal, Lita Ford’s timing is right on.”

By Jason Tanamor

The Queen of Metal, Lita Ford, is back with a new album and new sound. And although she’s badder than ever, she’s still a down to Earth, family person. This was apparent when Zoiks! Online interviewed her. Her husband, Nitro frontman, Jim Gillette, called to say they were on a tour bus – a 40 foot by 3 feet tour bus with their two children.

I commented about it being claustrophobic and he said, “It’s weird man. Usually you’re on a bus with 10-12 freaking idiots. But we’ve just got our family on here.” In the background, Ford said, “Now it’s just us four idiots.” This set the tone for the chat session. After shooting the shiskabobs (hey, there were children on board) with Gillette, Ford got on the phone.

Q – You’ve been in music since the ‘70’s?

LF – Since 1975.

Q – That’s the year I was born.

LF – Oh my God! Don’t tell anybody.

Q - How has your music changed from when you first came onto the scene?

LF – It’s matured definitely. It has more depth to it. The new album, “Wicked Wonderland” is very sexy and rockin.’ It’s definitely a high energy album, which I love.

Q – What’s the one thing you learned most about being in the music business?

LF – My husband just said, ‘Expect the unexpected.’ That goes to say no matter what business you’re in. God, I don’t know. You know, you have people in your life that you look up to and you think they’re larger than life, they’re superheroes, and then one day comes along and you get to meet them and you find out that they’re the biggest jerks on the planet. It’s such a let down, because you admire them and you live and breathe these people. It’s just the biggest let down.

Q – You pretty much walked away from music to raise a family. Did you still toil around with music and play your guitars or did you get away completely?

LF – I got completely away from music. We did a couple songs for our kids for fun but other than that we didn’t do much else. Having a family takes all of you. It takes all of you to be in rock n’ roll. Where we live in the Caribbean, we home school, and we grow our own food and bake our own bread. We even have our own rain water that we capture from the ceiling from the roof, so it’s a full time job and you can’t really do both when you have two little kids. But, now my kids are older, they’re more self-sufficient, and they’re ready to rock and roll. They’re touring all over the world; it’s a chance of a lifetime for them. They’ve been to Greece, Spain, all through Europe, and flew over the Swiss Alps. I mean, what kind of school books can you learn that from?

Q – How difficult was it to get back into the daily grind of playing and recording?

LF – It was hard actually. People say, ‘It’s just like riding a bike.’ But it’s not like riding a bike. I look at it like this. If you’re a weightlifter and you bench press 150-160 pounds, and then all of a sudden you stop bench pressing, and you don’t bench press for 15 years, when you come back to bench pressing, you’re not going to start back at 150-160 pounds. You have to work your way back up. And that’s what I’ve had to do. I’ve had to work my way back up, and I’m actually still doing it. I had my first album out when I was 16. I started playing guitar at 11. And I’m 51 years-old now. I took 15 years off.

(Photo by Tyler Clinton)

Q – Metal was prevalent in the ’70-80’s but then grunge and rap emerged out of nowhere. We’re now beginning to see metal bands at the forefront again. How has metal changed from when you first started putting music out 15 years ago until now?

LF – We had the punk era – The Sex Pistols, The Runaways, The Ramones, Blondie – which was awesome. The Runaways fit in that era. Then it went from punk to heavy metal. We had Van Halen, Motley Crue, Metallica, James is going, Pantera. Then that started to die down. And then came grunge. I was so wrapped up in heavy metal - I’m not a grunge artist – and I think when everything went grunge, everyone who played hard rock and heavy metal went underground and hid. There was no place for them. Me? My situation, it was actually perfect timing. I was bored. I had been in the music industry for 27 years already and I was ready to bail. So, I got out of the scene and kind of sat back and watched what happened. Now it seems that heavy metal is coming around again. I think my timing is right on.

Q – “Wicked Wonderland” is your first full length album since 1995. Do you think, being away for so long, that you have to try harder or do something different to reach those people that have essentially moved on from Lita Ford?

LF – Jim’s going, ‘I want to talk.’ (Jim gets on.)

JG – We’re keeping you on your toes there buddy. We’re confusing you. We’re faking left and then we’re coming right (laughs).

JG - It’s kind of the opposite. We said we’re going to do something that we dig. We’re not going to listen to anybody. We’ve lived on an island, and believe me, it’s Gillette Island, and we had no TV, no radio, no nothing. We had no idea what was in or out or cool or the flavor of the month or whatever. We just wrote what we wanted to write and made music that we wanted to make. Anyone that says it sounds current, well, I’m glad (laughs). Because when you’re in the middle of the Caribbean, you don’t know what current or old really is. It was very relaxed because when you’re on a record company, they’ve got a bunch of suits. And these suits wouldn’t know cool if it bit ‘em in the ass. For some reason, they’re going to tell you, the artist, how to make a cool song. The only reason why they’re telling you that is, maybe that producer had a hit with so and so. But that’s great for them and that artist. With this one, we’re the management and record company. We got to do whatever we wanted. A friend of ours, Greg Hampton, wrote everything and produced everything with us. We recorded all the lead guitars and vocals at our house. How much less stressed can you get? If you’re not feeling well, you don’t record. Back in the day, you’re spending $2000 bucks a day, I don’t give a shit if your stomach hurts, you’re recording. You didn’t get the best stuff back then because no matter what, you were recording.

Q – Being away for so long, do you think fans sometimes resent you for leaving at the height of your popularity?

JG – I hope not. I wouldn’t say resent because I see the reaction people get when they meet Lita. It’s incredible. People start crying and saying things like, ‘You have no idea what you mean to me.’ It’s heartfelt and sincere and they feel like Lita is their best friend. I don’t think people resent her rather they’re really happy she’s back and maybe wish she wasn’t away for so long.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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