Interview with Meat Loaf

If there’s only one indulgent dish on your musical menu this year, you’d better make sure it’s Meat Loaf and his ‘Guilty Pleasures’ tour.

First published in The Illawarra Mercury on June 30, 2011.meatloaf_7_2010


If there’s only one indulgent dish on your musical menu this year, you’d better make sure it’s Meat Loaf and his Guilty Pleasures tour.

Catapulted into the musical stratosphere for his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell and its subsequent sequels Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993) and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (2006), the legendary musician is returning to Australia in October this year, with a stop in Wollongong on his touring schedule.

“Yeah, it’s been a while – the last time I performed in Australia was in 2005 I’d say, around three albums ago,” he says.

“It was time to come back.”

So what was the inspiration behind the tour’s name, Guilty Pleasures?

“Well, about a year ago, Entertainment Weekly held this readers’ poll asking people what their guilty pleasures were,” he says.

“As it turned out, I was listed at number three on the poll – I’m a guilty pleasure.”

He says the tour will be markedly different to any he’s done before, owing to the swag of talented young musicians who will be sharing the stage with him.

“I’ve got this 21 year old violinist and she’s an absolutely amazing musician as well as a jaw-dropping young pianist, saxophonist, guitarist, bass player and drummer,” he says.

“I’ve infused these young musicians into the band and it has breathed new life into everything – it’s amazing how good these guys are and it’s got me so inspired.

“Sometimes I think I’m living in a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movie – I got the barn, I got the kids, let’s put on a show!”

The Guilty Pleasures tour will see him perform in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, A Day on the Green in the Hunter and Yarra valleys and, just announced, feature as the headline act in this year’s AFL grand final on October 1.

In recent times, he has been a celebrity guest on numerous American TV programs, such as Glee, Ghost Hunters and House and has also been involved in some reality shows as a judge, guest and even as a celebrity contestant.

Renowned for his colourful outbursts, Meat Loaf has been causing controversy in the USA after a recent stint on reality television program Celebrity Apprentice (aired in Australia on Fox8).

His outrageous altercation with veteran actor and musician Gary Busey has been a YouTube sensation.

It presents a volatile side to him that he says was completely taken out of context due to the way it was edited and it has resulted in him receiving three serious death threats.

But reality TV woes aside, the 64-year-old will be kicking off the Australian and New Zealand leg of his Guilty Pleasures tour with the worldwide release of his new album Hell in a Handbasket, which he says is a reflection of his current view of the world.

“All you have to do is watch the news right now – which just drives me completely insane,” he rants.

“It’s all completely skewed, no matter which network you watch, which makes me believe the world really has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

He believes the forthcoming album will actually be considered right up there as one of his best.

“You could put all my albums into the context of stadium seating,” he explains.

“OK, so Bat Out of Hell is the actual stadium and I’m never going to have another album like that.

“Some of the albums I’ve done since then belong way up the back bleachers, I’ll admit, but my last album Hang Cool Teddy Bear has luxury box seats and Hell in a Handbasket will have luxury box to field seats, it’s that good.”

Fans who relish the larger-than-life rocker’s dramatic-style music would not be surprised by the fact that Meat Loaf considers himself just as much an actor as he is a musician.

With more than 50 television and film appearances, as well as numerous celebrated theatrical credits to his name, Meat Loaf first came to the world’s attention on Broadway as Eddie in the musical The Rocky Horror Show, gaining wider recognition when the show was adapted for film in the 1970s.

When asked who his most significant musical influences have been over the years, Meat Loaf is quick to play down the significance that other musicians have had on his own music.

“I don’t have musical influences – I listen to music and I enjoy the work of certain musicians, sure, but my influences really come from actors,” he says.

“I might watch a movie and think an actor is amazing in a certain scene and be influenced by that but no real rock band has had any real influence on me.

“I want to have my own ideas.”

When Meat Loaf spoke with the Mercury this month he was also gearing up to become a grandfather for the first time.

“Yes, I’m sitting here waiting for the phone call to come to the hospital to meet my new grandson – any day now,” he says.

Would he have any objections to his grandson being named after himself?

“I tell you, if they call him ‘Little Meat’ I will kidnap that baby, change its name and raise it myself,” he says.

Lucky for him, his daughter Pearl and her husband Scott Ian from thrash metal band Anthrax, welcomed Meat Loaf’s grandson into the world on June 19, naming him Revel Young Ian.

So Meat Loaf doesn’t like his stage name?

“No! My dad called me Meat Loaf when I was a little baby because I was a biggun’ and it has well and truly stuck,” he moans.

“I just can’t get rid of it.”

© 2011 Fairfax