Singer-Guitarist Lita Ford Mines the Vaults for her New Album 'Time Capsule'

click to enlarge Singer-Guitarist Lita Ford Mines the Vaults for her New Album 'Time Capsule'
Courtesy of Freeman Promotions
Formerly of the Runaways, singer-guitarist Lita Ford went back to the vaults for her new album, Time Capsule, a “throwback” record that features guests such as bassist Billy Sheehan, drummer Rodger Carter, guitarist Dave Navarro, singer Jeff Scott Soto, singers Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander and bassist Gene Simmons. The album’s first single, the hard-rocking “Rotten to the Core” features Simmons on bass and Carter on drums.

“That was written ages ago,” says Ford in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home when asked about the tune. “We got together at his place. He has a writing area at his house. I went over, and we wrote this track. It was something he had started already, and we just went over there and finished it. He’s a good guy. He went through a phase there when everyone was bashing him and saying things about him, but he’s mellowed out. He’s gotten married. He’s got a good heart. He really does.”

As it’s put in a press release, the album is “Ford`s gift to fans who love the '80s, when thrilling vocal performances, raunchy riffs, and loud, growling guitars were as essential as oxygen.” 

“These are songs that I had from the ’80s,” she says. “They’re basically jam sessions and songwriting sessions. Some of them go back to the early ’80s. Some of them are mid-'80s and some of them are later ’80s. There are three different sessions there. I have these great musicians on this album. They’re people that were at the same place at the same time. They were walking by or recording in the room next door. I would put them on the songs. [Cheap Trick’s] Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander had come to my house to write songs. We recorded ‘Killing Kind.’ It’s so good. These are songs that no one has heard. I thought, ‘How cool it would be for the fans from the ‘80s who miss them and the fans who wish they lived through the ’80s to have a piece of a new album that is a new album but really an old album?’ These musicians were at their prime.”

Ford says that other than baking the original tapes to ensure they didn’t break during the initial transfer process, she didn’t alter the original recordings.

“We didn’t touch one note,” she says. “We transferred them to digital and remixed them just to freshen up the sound. We released them as they were. We didn’t change nothing. We just remixed them. That’s all we did.”

Ford famously joined the all-female Runaways when she was just 16. In the wake of that band’s dissolution, she became a hard rock icon who had a monster hit with "If I Close My Eyes Forever," a a power ballad featuring Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne. In 2012, she released Living Like a Runaway, an album of highly personal songs about her bitter divorce. Her recent book, Living Like a Runaway, chronicles the ups and downs of her long career.

“It was an absolute nightmare trying to find the right people to work with, which I never did,” she says when asked about the process of writing the book. “I ended up doing it myself. It’s a lot of work. You have to go back and try to remember things that are painful and things that are funny. You have to put everything into chronological order. I wasn’t sure about some of it. I didn’t know if I did that first or last. Thank God for the Internet.”

One noticeable absence in the book — she doesn’t provide the name of her ex-husband, whom she says abused her and turned her two sons against her.

“It wasn’t a story HarperCollins wanted,” she says. “They just didn’t want that story. To tell you the truth, that story in itself is a whole other book. It was 15 years, and it’s still going on. He’s still alienating my children from me and using them to hurt me. I’m sure a lot of parents have dealt with that kind of garbage. The legal system in America and in the entire world preys on these people going through alienation. They take your money and don’t do anything to help the child or parent. They give the child to the parent who has the most money and can pay the most. It doesn’t matter if that parent is of sound mind or health.”

Sharon Osbourne, who was once Ford’s manager, doesn’t come off particularly well in the book as Ford maintains that Osbourne pushed her to the point of exhaustion and suspected her of sleeping with her husband, Ozzy Osbourne. Has she responded?

“Nah, I don’t think anything could upset Sharon,” says Ford. “We called and let them know about the book. They didn’t respond. I told my story about what happened and that’s what happened in my eyes. Maybe she has a different story. I don’t know. You gotta read the book to hear that one because it’s too long to explain.”

Former Runaway Joan Jett, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll and Hall of Fame and Museum, comes off as someone who doesn’t want to reconnect with her former Runaways bandmates, suggesting a reunion won’t be happening anytime soon.

“[Joan Jett’s] manager has done nothing but try to steer the ship between me and her,” says Ford. “It’s been that way since the minute the Runaways broke up. He had his eye on her and was going to try to stop any success that I had. Of course, he can’t stop all of it. He tried to stop some of it and is still doing it today. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Joan and I were friends. We never had a cross word with each other in the Runaways. We were the only two who never argued and never fought. We got along just fine when we were with each other. I don’t know why all of a sudden there’s a war. Why doesn’t she stick up for me? She’s a big girl. She got inducted into the Hall of Fame and [manager] Kenny [Laguna] gets up and does the speech. Joan is standing in the background in the shadows. It’s just ridiculous. Whatever. To each their own.”

Ultimately, Ford’s book provides a nice snapshot of a music industry in shambles as Ford writes about how the upheaval at record labels often meant her albums weren't properly promoted and marketed.

“There are a lot of weasels and snakes in the music industry,” she says. “It’s easy to get ripped off if you don’t watch everything you do. You have to trust your team. If you put together a bad team of people, the ball won’t be in your court. You have to be careful. I try to be careful. There are so many people who work for me now and I know them all really well. They come to my shows and cheer me on and work with me first on with things. You have to be hands-on in the music industry and with your own music. You can’t just release an album and then get high. It’s not going to work.”

Lita Ford, 7 p.m. Friday, March 18, The Odeon Concert Club, 1295 Old River Rd., 216-771-6655. Tickets: $25 ADV, $30 DOS,