You started playing guitar when you were pretty young- only about 10 or 11, right? What inspired you to start playing?
God! Honestly, it was not one thing that made it happen. It was just something I wanted. I had to have a guitar. My mother went to Sears and bought me the guitar- I was 11 and she wanted to see what I would do with it. My family was not musical in the sense of musicians but they listened to lots of music. Everything from Italian operas to Elvis. They were the best.
I know you were recruited for The Runaways when you were 16, can you tell me how that all started? Did you just receive a phone call from Kim Fowley one day asking you to play, did he see you playing somewhere first? I’d love to know how someone so young reacted to such a huge opportunity.
He heard about me. In the neighborhood I grew up there was a band doing a show and their bass player couldn’t make it. The guys girlfriend didn’t want him to do the show so the band called me. They said Lita you play bass? …no, I play guitar. He heard that I was a female bass player. I don’t play bass, I play guitar. Kim said we need one of them too!
The Runaways disbanded in ’79 due to differences in the band musically. Do you at all wish the band had stayed together a little bit longer? Are you happy with the almost 5 year run you guys had? Basically, if you could go back, would you change anything?
You learn from your mistakes. Any mistakes that may have been made in the Runaway’s only made us better. Runaways was my rock n roll college. There were a lot of do’s and don’ts. Kim Fowley was our teacher. Pretty scary, huh?
You were always into the more hard rock oriented sound, which differed from Joan as we could see in the 80’s- the musical direction was completely different. Going into your solo career, what was your goal? Were there any artists or groups that you admired and thought- ‘that’s what I want to do, that’s the sound I want’?
I wanted to reinvent myself before I became a solo artist. That took quite a long time. At least a year gap between Runaway’s and first solo album. Dating Nikki Sixx, I met Neil Merriweather who hand made my leather g-string and gauntlet to match. So I was pretty rocking by the time I was ready. I put together a band. I wanted to portray that I was a girl and I was the one playing the guitar. In the Runaways I never got the recognition as a guitarist. Out for Blood is a three piece à la Jimi Hendrix style. Fans had to give in to the fact that it was me playing guitar. Once that point got across I got a second guitar player. It freed me up to be a front person. I had to teach myself to sing.
Regardless of how great your first album was, ‘Out for Blood’ was not as commercially successful as I’m assuming you had hoped. Was this at all discouraging to you?
It was stupid. They banned the album in stores because the guitar was bleeding. Nobody said anything about the fact I didn’t have any pants on. The next album ‘Dancing on the Edge’ was nominated for a GRAMMY. They went from banning me to nominating me for a GRAMMY!
There are a lot of people in the music industry- or in any industry for that matter- who have children and continue to work. Why did you feel it was so important to take such a nearly fifteen year hiatus and raise your boys?
My husband didn’t want me in the music industry and I don’t do baby sitters or day care. I’m a full on, hands on mom. I wanted to be like the great mother I had.
In relation to wanting to take a hiatus, coming back from that, what was the inspiration behind your comeback record ‘Wicked Wonderland’? At what point did you realize that it had been almost fifteen years and you were ready to start rocking again?
I wanted my children to get a little older. I didn’t want to raise a baby on a tour bus with cigarettes and alcohol. I just wanted to be there for my kids. Plus, the music scene had changed, there really was no place for me at that time. It ended up being a perfect time for me to take a break and I was ready for it.
You are arguably one of my favorite guitarists- female especially. As an 18 year old in this industry you are definitely someone I can look up to and respect for both your talent and attitude. You recently worked with another one of my favorite guitarists Ace Frehley on his latest solo record ‘Origins Vol. 1’, can you tell me how working with Ace was? You two performing on Wild Thing was truly a force to be reckoned with.
Ace is the best. Easy going guy. Very funny. We had a great time. They let me do what I wanted to do and give it my own twist. I wanted the song to sound like we owned it. Even better were the shows we did with Ace. They were awesome.
You very recently released your latest album ‘Time Capsule’, what was the inspiration behind this album? Overall to me it’s a fun record and it truly ties back into your 80’s sound, but I know there’s usually some sort of deeper connection between you and your music, so I was wondering what made you want to make another record.
It was a set of analog tapes in my closet that I felt fans needed to hear. They featured a lot of celebrities that performing on the songs and just the songs themselves. It just brought us back to the 80’s. A time that a lot of us miss. This is a little piece of history – hence ‘Time Capsule’.
And of course on top of a new record your book was also finally released earlier this year, when did you first decide that you wanted to publish a memoir? It’s kind of one of those books that’ll leave people asking themselves- ‘did that really happen?’- because so much of it is so shocking to the readers. How important to you was it to not leave out any detail?
It was shocking to me too- when it happened! A lot of this happened long before wives and children. I wanted to give the readers something they could sink their teeth into.
Lastly, I know you’ve been playing a lot of shows lately! You toured with Halestorm, you do solo gigs and festivals- I plan to see you three times within the next couple months. This leads me to my final question, what’s next?
Thank you. There is a lot on the plate for 2017. I’m currently writing the new album. We are planning on it being released in the Spring. Tour dates are being booked as we speak. It is shaping up to be another busy year.