For over forty years Meat Loaf has been part of the iconic rock n’ roll landscape, from his appearance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Bat Out Of Hell and beyond, with album sales estimated as high as 70 million under his belt. SHANE PINNEGAR took the call to discuss this week’s release of his thirteenth studio album, Braver Than We Are.
Again collaborating with long-time foil Jim Steinman, for this record the duo revisited songs from Steinman’s equally long and impressive career, rewriting tracks he supplied for early musicals, as well as albums by Bonnie Tyler, The Sisters Of Mercy and others.
Meat calls the suitably epic and over-the-top collection, “a tribute to both of us and our work together. He considers [the album] one of the best things that he has ever worked on in his entire life. I’ve never seen Jim so much in love with a record since we’ve been working, and I have listened to this record more than all of the other records I’ve ever made combined.”
You quickly learn that Meat isn’t one to hold back his opinions or enthusiasms.
“I woke up at 3:15 one morning and sat in here and listened to that record seven times,” he declares emphatically, “and the other day I just was checking some speakers, so I started the record and all of a sudden, I’m gone. This record, if you really sit to listen to it, it will take you on a journey. It will hypnotise you.
“We’ve been working on this [album] for about four years, and I just keep touring and coming back. I’m telling you, I was excited about a record that [I did] a few years ago called Hang Cool Teddy Bear, and I remember how excited I was about that. I was EXCITED about that. This, I’m like, I’m past excited. I’m exuberant. I’m living in another world – it’s like another planet.”
Meat is especially enthusiastic about the epic 11-plus -minute track Going All The Way.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” he says confidently, “If people really go and listen to the first verse of Bat Out Of Hell and the first verse of Going All The Way, it’s the same voice, just a different timbre. It’s EXACTLY the same voice, but I think the first verse of Going All The Way is the best thing dramatically that I have ever put on record.”
That’s a big statement.
“It’s a major statement,” Meat agrees, before describing it in acting terms, “when I hear it, it blows me away. There is so much truth, and it is so in the moment. I’ve never been in a moment like that on a record in my life – and the second verse is not far behind it.”
The song features duets with both Ellen Foley [who sung the studio version of Paradise By The Dashboard Light on Bat Out Of Hell in 1977], AND Karla DeVito [who sung the song live on tour with Meat, and appeared in the song’s video clip in 1977].
“I think I said, ‘I should get Karla to sing on this,’” Meat explains, “and Jimmy said, ‘well if you’re going to get Karla, we should Ellen.’ Ellen was a little apprehensive at first, but when I called her that took it over the top. Then we did [this] on purpose: we booked their flight times so both flights would land around the same time [so] they would show up at the hotel to check in about the same time, and that’s exactly what happened. Because it hadn’t been the greatest relationship between those two – and completely understandable, because Ellen felt she didn’t get the recognition because Karla did the video [for Paradise…] with [Ellen’s] voice, so I get that.
“If somebody did a video with my voice, you know…,” he starts, before veering off on a tangent. “I mean they just did – a Meatloaf just sang I’d Do Anything For Love – the real one, the Meatloaf! Seth Rogan put out some weird cartoon [the newly released movie Sausage Party] – I don’t know what it is…”
“But the next day we had two different cars booked [for Foley and DeVito],” Meat continues, back on track, “and they said, ‘never mind, we’ll come together,’ and they had dinner that night. They checked in together, and they have remained in contact ever since then. That was one of the greatest things Jimmy and I have ever done.”
As for touring plans, nothing is yet locked in.
“I don’t know about that,” he says. “We had an offer to come and play, and then I had to have back surgery. I don’t know. It’s been tossed about, but there is nothing concrete. I’d love to come back – for more than one reason.”