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AR: Anjali Rao
AR: Hello, I'm Anjali Rao. My guest today is the legendary Meat Loaf. This is Talk Asia. Meat Loaf is star of the stage, screen and studio. His successes have been numerous, but among them have been unimaginable lows, both professionally, and personally. Now though Meat Loaf's back with a new album and ahead of its Halloween release, he's flying through Asia like a bat out of hell.
AR: Meatloaf, welcome to Talk Asia! So, the new album is "Bat Out of Hell 3, The Monster is Loose" what's different about this Bat from its predecessors?
ML: It's a little harder, a little more guitar, a little, it's just tougher, it's a tougher record, although it goes from being the point where people would first put it on and go well who's that? So they don't know who I am, which is perfect, to the softer side of me, and to the fact that we go into t a 3/4 waltz ballot. Which is called "cry over me", which is also, but in that time, but it's also the angriest song I've ever sung in my life in 3, 4time. This guy is one angry, tortured soul. And he wants this woman to suffer, just like he is.
AR: Well then I guess you know the heavy direction I suppose must have been helpful because you had people like Mickey Sixs from Motley Crew, and John Five from Marilyn Manson.
ML: Oh, John Five scared the hell out of me dear. I gave them an idea; I said I want you to write me a song called "The Monster is Loose." I didn't tell them, I didn't tell them what it was about. Because it didn't make any difference what it was about, the title said it all. Because it's about the monster that's in everyone. Because the album is about you, basically all 3 bats are about you, the listener, or about you the listener, and so that's what they're about. So when I wrote The Monster is Loose, that was my opening to say okay we're going to let this, were going to let these feelings come out again, were going to let these emotions come out at you.
And so, I go in there early, and they had Dan play it for me, and John Five is doing the guitars. I'd seen some of the lyrics for it. I went, those are fine, those are fine, and maybe we'd change some of those once I hear the track. And John Five is in there playing this guitar, and John Five looks at you, he's got this way of doing a photograph, and its like this, I have to turn to the camera to do it, and its very scary, and its really, just kind of the whites of your eyes. You know?
And he's playing this guitar and I lean over to Desmond, Desmond Child who produced the record, and I go, Desmond, this could be, I don't know...
And Desmond goes "Don't worry about it, just let him do it. And then we'll listen to it later and if we don't like it we don't have to use it." Which was his line to me with everything for the album. If you don't like it we don't have to use it. Well at the end, when we started mixing this song about 7, 8 months later, my comment was, "Can you get the guitars louder? Turn up the guitars! More guitars! More guitars!
AR: Your long time collaborator Jim Steinman, he didn't work on this album.
ML: He did in the beginning of it. Because he started giving me the songs, it was his idea to do Bat 3, so he started giving me songs along the way. But Jimmy had 2 strokes and he had a heart problem and I had always said to Jimmy, "Look, I'm not going to do Bat out of Hell 3 without you." And for me to make another decision, people could look at it as a very selfish decision on my part. But at some point, everyone needs to make themselves Number One in their life and that's just what it is. You have to!
And I looked at this and said, man I really don't want to do this without Jimmy, but when Jimmy said to me, "Meat, I've had another stroke. I need 6 months of therapy to even go and play the piano" which, with Jim, it's really not 6 months, it's a year. And the project is going take 5 years.
And I had to make a decision based on where I was physically and mentally and I said I hate to do this and it's really hard but I have to make the decision, then I got concerned about it because I couldn't find anybody that I thought could take it over. I've gone through different people, people who make records and do really well and sell a lot of records and powerful producers and I'm saying, no, he doesn't get it!
And then Desmond Child came along and he begged me, I mean he was saying, this is my destiny, I was born to do this, I have to do this, its everything that I want, then about 3 weeks into recording it, I found out that Desmond Child is a triple Scorpio and so is Jim Steinman, so its almost like if I closed my eyes and pretended it was a different voice it was actually Jim Steinman speaking to me which was like really weird.
AR: And he did! Jim Steinman wrote, its "all coming back to me now".
ML: Yeah, he did write "its all coming back to me now", he wrote 8 songs on the record. And then, near the end in May, cause I really wanted lyric changes from him and so the communication opened up again, which was fantastic, because legitimately he was hurt by the fact that I moved to Desmond, and I completely understand it, and I can apologize until I'm blue in the face, but sometimes people will never understand, but I had to, I had to move.
AR: One of the highlights I guess on the new album is "its all coming back to me now"
ML: I think so thank you very much.
AR: Your style though is totally unique in that it mixes pop, rock, opera, lots and lots of theatrics and you know people like to categorize things and people like to put genres in their own special little box, obviously you cant do that with your music?
ML: Yes you can
AR: Can you?
ML: Yes, insane. Completely insane.
AR: In the quite mad box.
ML: It's the greatest thing in the world for me, and I'll explain it to you. Its like this, the album comes out, they're going to release the first track to rock radio, and we release the monster is loose to rock radio. And the first feedback we get back and it was perfect they go well we don't know if we can play this, because its not like anything else were playing and I go YES! YES!! Exactly correct!! Give the man 100 bucks for saying the secret word. Because that's exactly right then your next line to the guy is, "that's the reason we made it because it doesn't sound like everybody else, but I bet if you played it its going to stand out. And people are going to go, they're going to lookup from their computers there going to look up from their you know wrenches when there auto mechanics, there going to look up and go, wow what's that?,
Because everything else becomes a drone and they want to know why radio is suffering, it's because radio keeps playing the same stuff over and over again, give them something new people. Excuse me, I preach a lot, I just missed my calling, I could have been, heal! HEAL!!!
AR: All right well on that bizarre note were going to take a short break. When we come back though we will talk about the cult of Rocky Horror and Meat Loafs contribution to it, plus, well also discuss the real life drama that's become his life so far.
AR: Were back on Talk Asia with Meat Loaf.
Rocky Horror Picture Show was undoubtedly your big break and its got a huge and dedicated fan base and a real cult following how do you regard your place in something like that?
ML: Oh, I love that. I mean first of all I got to do the play, which was, and the movie but the play to me was really special, and the reason it was special is because we did it in LA which was amazing, we did it at the Roxy and it was a celebrity hang out, I mean more people came, I mean I met Elvis which was like, I'm, my Indian name is never shuts up, okay? If I had an Indian name, an American Indian name it would be never shuts up. When I met Elvis I couldn't speak. I just nodded my head and expected my brain to rattle.
But I got an opportunity to work on stage with Tim Curry, an English actor, a completely different, and I learned so much from Tim Curry in1973 being on stage with Tim and how to adapt to everything different all the time. So its not, you know just because you say the same words doesn't mean it has to be the same way. And I love that. In that 6 months of working with Tim Curry I learned more about acting then I did at any school I went to and it was phenomenal so that was a real lesson.
AR: It wasn't though long after that when things started to unravel for you, there was a serious accident, which preceded a serious drug problem, then a nervous breakdown.
ML: I found out the music business was swimming in a river of snakes because all of a sudden you got all these people going oh, I knew you could do it, oh, I'm proud of you. This is what you do next now, you know how to invest your money don't you? You know on your next record you ought to be doing this. I love you, I love you, I love you I love you until your next record doesn't sell anything and then I don't like you at all. And so that's kind of where that's at. So I decided if I'm going to be in this business I'm going to need a boat, so I got a little boat to maneuver my way through the river of snakes. But I did have a nervous breakdown and I went to a psychologist everyday for two hours a day for 6 months and the whole thing was about somebody calling me a star.
AR: You do have countless fans all over the world. However you've got your critics too. One of them even called your work "overlong theatrical rubbish" do you care what they say?
ML: Actually that was very that was very good!
You know what? I wear my emotions on my shoulder so for me to tell you, the over theatrical part is perfect, the rubbish um, I tell you, more than me, I get offended for Jim Steinman because Jim Steinman is one of the most underrated writers in the world.
AR: When on stage how do you stay excited about what you're doing? Because I mean you must have sung Bat out of Hell and I'd do Anything for Love hundreds, if not thousands, of times?
ML: The object of that exercise is that you have, it has to be the first time every time. Its like I'm an actor I don't think of myself as a singer, so if you're doing a scene and the best way to explain it, if every day for a month, you asked me the same questions, you would ask them every time in a different way, even though it's the same questions.
With bat out of hell and things like that the imagery is so strong and the lyrics are so well written that you cant help but just be overcome by them and its like the first time, you can never get tired of it and it always has to be the first time. And I very much work that image system so my pictures change each time and like I said I don't feel the same way every night. One night I might have gotten mad at the base player before I went on stage so I'm out there and I'm a terror, everything is like in different colors now, you know, its red as opposed to light blue or green or yellow or whatever. So it's always different and it's always the first time.
AR: Well hang on for a minute cause were going to take another very short break at this point when we return there's still plenty more to come though including what its like to live the Meat Loaf legend and switching back to just being Michael Lee Aday.
AR: Welcome back to Talk Asia. Meat Loaf is with us on this edition. You've got this very distinct persona. It's pretty gothic and extremely flamboyant. How do you get into character particularly when you just don't really feel like it?
ML: You have to feel like it, you don't have a choice; you just don't have a choice. If, and this, because you've got to look at it this way, there's a lot of shows when I've been sick that I probably should have cancelled but I don't. Because I sit and I look at it this way -- I've got an arena full of people, most of those people bought those tickets anywhere 6-8 weeks ago. They've marked their calendar -- we're going to see meat loaf October the 18th! Now then, some of these people have said, well if I'm going to go I'm going to get something new to wear that night, because that's fun! And some of the other ones have children, so they go oh, we've definitely got to get a babysitter that night, so now they've gotten new clothes they've bought the tickets they've got a baby sitter, they've planned it all! Maybe they've left work early, now they got to get to there, and now they're going to pay for parking. So now they've paid for parking. It's a whole ordeal for this audience, it's not easy, and it's not easy going to a show because I've gone to them. I owe those people, I owe them. And I'm responsible for what happens to them that night, they don't owe me anything. So I have to, I have to get in that, in my room, that's what I'm paid to do, I have to get to that persona, I have to get to that place, I have to get to that energy level.
AR: You've got two daughters yourself, and you know you have this crazy life that you lead, how do you make sure you are a success at home as well as on the charts or at the box office?
ML: I brought them up and their mother brought them up to respect everyone that we are all the same, to have perfect manners because that's really important to say please and thank you and mean it. And to understand everything that you have and we moved them from town to town. If I thought that the values of that town were about BMWs and clothes, and that happened when my oldest daughter was in 7th grade. She came home crying because she wasn't wearing the right kind of blue jeans and I turned to my wife and I said were out of here, we're gone! Because life ain't about what kind of blue jeans you're wearing. So my daughters have impeccable manners they are polite, they are kind, they are sensitive human beings and that's what matters. We've grounded them to that point.
AR: You yourself though...
ML: Really horrible manners. No I'm just kidding. I won't say thank you to no one, don't, get out of here. Okay go on sorry!
AR: I'm sure your manners are impeccable! But you did have yourself a very difficult childhood, did your experiences have any bearing on, on the way that you saw fatherhood and the way you reared your own children?
ML: Oh you know what, there are so many people that their childhoods are not good and there are people that have it a lot worse then I did, so I don't look at that. My mother, my grandfather was a minister; my mother had those values that I just talked about to my kids. My father was an alcoholic, how many, I mean its endless, its millions and millions of people that suffered with that. But at some point in your life, you're responsible for what you do. And you can look back, you might have been angry at your parents at some point. But at some point, you've got to get over it and say, look that was my mother that was my father, they've given me something, and you've got to try to find the good in that.
AR: You also coached your daughters team a softball, do people just let you kick back and just be a regular guy? Or do you always have to be portraying, at least a little bit of Meat Loaf the star?
ML: No, that was dead serious that, coaching that softball, because you see, its about winning. It's about winning! But actually that's not really true, what I taught them was that it really isn't about winning but it's about winning in yourself.
On the games that we won I used to sing the beginning of Id do anything for love for them on the bus ride home. So that was. If we didn't win though then I couldn't sing, but if we won then I would sing. And they would like that. But it was really, when we were playing ball it wasn't about that, it was really when we were playing ball it was about Meat Loaf the coach and that's what it was and don't treat me any other way, and were here to do something, but it was really about, about the effort that one person puts into it and that's kind of what we'd talk about when I go on stage.
It's not about whether we win or loose. If I can walk up to you and look at you straight in the eye and go did you give me 100% today did you do everything in this game that you could have done? Could you have given me anymore? And if they say no, then I say congratulations you won. Because that's what it's about. That's how I take it on stage. My rule on stage, and people go, how come you never go anywhere after the shows over? I said if I have any energy other then to crawl myself into bed, if I have any energy to decide where I'm going out to dinner or what club were going to, I haven't done my job, my job is to give it everything to that audience out on that floor at that time.
AR: Softball, music, TV, theater...
ML: It's all or nothing.
AR: Bringing it back to the music we've seen the bat fly out of hell twice and into it once, I have to ask are we going to see the Bat make a 4th appearance?
ML: The shortest answer you'll ever get from me, no. There's one more little piece to the puzzle but it's a little tiny piece and it fits over in the corner and then it will all be, its bats or jigsaw puzzles, there's one piece, its finally in the corner piece. There is one more little piece to the puzzle. But, it's a small piece.
AR: Meat Loaf its been an absolute pleasure, many thanks indeed.
ML: Oh it, thank you. I've always wanted to talk to you
AR: Like wise
ML: And I'm so glad I did. Thank you very much.
AR: Well that is Talk Asia for this week; my guest has been the inimitable Meat Loaf. Until we meet again, I'm Anjali Rao. Thanks for watching.
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