Meat Loaf – Article

Meat Loaf feature

Why the name Meat Loaf?
Meat came from my dad when I was a year old and the Loaf came from a football coach when I was about 12, after I’d stepped on his foot.

So you were a big lad?
This morning I weighed just eight pounds [3.6kgs] more than I did when I was 10 years old. So, was I big? Right now I’m almost 100 pounds [45.3kgs] lighter than at my biggest, which was around when I did Dead Ringer [1981].

Do you ever wish you had a different stage name?
If you look at the names that Shakespeare used, especially in some of the comedies he wrote – and I’ve acted in As You Like It – he probably would have used Meat Loaf. “Does thou not knowest where thou go, Meat? Shall thou not enter the palace, Meat Loaf?” I would have been immortalised by him.

Guess you can’t argue with The Bard. People know you as a muso and actor but what was your first job?
This is the stupidest thing ever but I was a lifeguard! I had to be a lifeguard so that I could be a football coach at the YMCA next door. I was a 290 pound [131.5kgs] lifeguard, which is hysterical. The joke would be that if I jumped in the pool to save someone all the water would splash out.

What are fans on the street more likely to scream at you: “Eddie!” [From The Rocky Horror Picture Show] or “Bitch Tits!” [From Fight Club]?
If I’m in New York they usually just yell out, “Meat!” [Fight Club director David] Fincher is the only guy who would call me Bitch Tits. I didn’t even know what he was talking about when he first brought it up. “Let’s get the bitch tits out!” I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Your new album, Hell In A Handbasket, came out here before anywhere else. What can we expect from it?
I thought you were going to ask me what people can expect from my show. ’Cos that’s the stupidest question ever. That’s what radio DJs ask all the time. “So, Meat, what can people expect at the show?” “Well, we’re going to do it on water. I’m going to flood the arena, we will issue life preservers, and we’ll do it in the water.” What the f—k’s wrong with these people? What kinda question is that? But Hell in A Handbasket is a great rock record and it really deals with the human condition. It’s the first album where I haven’t written it through the eyes of another character – it’s through my eyes and how I see the world today. I deal with entitlement, suicide, how people talk…

Speaking of entitlement, have you ever thought of kicking back and living off the Bat Out of Hell royalties?
I’ve worked for everything I’ve gotten. People might say, “He’s fine to speak about entitlements, he’s got all this money.” I’ve never been paid hardly a dime in royalties for Bat Out of Hell. It’s sold 43 million copies – I’ve made almost nothing. So don’t talk to me about, “Oh, you’re rich and people wait on you hand and foot.” Don’t even go there, because you don’t know me and you don’t know my life. And until you are me and you’ve lived in my shoes, don’t go there.

We’re assuming people with a false sense of entitlement give you the shits?
If you’ve got a 78-year-old woman who is terminally ill and some hospital is saying, “We can’t take her,” then someone else needs to step up and help that woman. Those are the people that I’m OK with helping. If people need help, let’s help them. But when you’ve got some guy sitting on a couch, watching TV, drinking beer, eating f—king Oreos, and he’s getting a government cheque because he’s too lazy to get up off his arse and go to work when he’s perfectly capable, he can go screw himself!

When you aren’t slaving away, what do you like to do for fun?
Nothing! I work. Listen, you have no idea, talking to you is fun for me. A long time ago I figured out that if I’m going to do this then I might as well make it fun. And I stopped being guarded a long time ago. I stopped caring about what I say or who I say it about.

Can you give us an example?
I said something yesterday about Rod Stewart. I was telling a story about making a record with [Interscope Records Chairman] Jimmy Iovine back in ’81 and I walked into the control room and there were penises drawn all over the wall. I said, “Jimmy, what the hell is going on in here?” He says, “Oh, that’s Rod Stewart’s vocal booth.” It’s nothing I wouldn’t have said to Rod Stewart. It’s like, I went up to Pamela Anderson after she got back with Tommy Lee and I said, “Pam, you getting a little lonely from the paparazzi there, baby?” And she just giggled. She might’ve been offended, but I don’t really care – that’s how I feel. So I’ve stopped being guarded and I just have fun.

And what would your famous mates say about you?
I’d say 99.9 per cent of the actors I’ve ever worked with would have good things to say. I don’t think all the promoters or managers I’ve worked with would do the same. I’ve gone a few rounds with promoters. You know, you have to fight for your art. I’m not sure all the producers I’ve worked with would give me a good reference. Jim [Steinman, composer and frequent collaborator] would. Rob Cavallo would. Paul Jacobs would. Other than that, I’ve had to fire a lot of ’em. It was more about them than it was about me. They had to go.

We noticed that Michael Bay has directed three of your music videos…
Michael Bay would give me a good reference. Fincher would give me a good reference. Right now I’m not going to give Michael Bay a good reference because he called me up twice and said, “I want you in my movie, I’ll send you a script.” He said he wanted me to do Pearl Harbour but the casting director, Bonnie Timmermann, who doesn’t like me at all, gave it to Tom Sizemore. I even said to Michael at the premiere of Fight Club, “I can’t believe that you let David Fincher put me in a movie before you did.” He said, “It’s coming.” So he still owes me a movie.

What do you want out of life right now?
I don’t want anything out of it. Well, that’s not true. I do want people to hear the record. I can’t necessarily demand that they like it, but I do want them to have the opportunity to hear it and form their own opinions. There have been a lot of classic records, but I guarantee you there are many more great records that never had the opportunity, or the door was never open for them. Because the classic records that we know – ones like Born To Run or Hotel California or Bad or The Dark Side Of The Moon – they came at a precise moment in time. The stars were aligned, they hit the right nerve, and bingo. Then there are other albums that may be just as good, but came at the wrong time and never had the opportunity to hit that nerve. So all I’m asking, ever, is for the opportunity for my music to be allowed to hit that nerve.

After 20 major tours, what’s your approach to shows now?
I owe everything to the audience. I don’t even care if they don’t applaud. They could sit there on their hands if they liked. Of course, they’re not gonna. I’m not gonna let ’em. It’s like, I heard I was playing these wineries in Australia and I said, “Well, you better tell them to leave the picnic baskets at home and munch on their carrots before they get there. Because they ain’t sitting there on their blankets with their picnic baskets at these winery shows. It ain’t gonna go down that way, buddy.”
Has Australia changed much over the time you’ve been coming here?
The last two times I’ve done nothing but work – and I don’t go out as much as I used to – so I couldn’t tell ya. I mean, the Opera House is still here. There are still boats in Sydney Harbour. Downtown Sydney still looks the same to me. Adelaide has changed a lot since I first went there, because it was like a Wild West town. Perth even more so. The last time I went to Perth I was like, “Oh my God, this is like a real city now!” It was like a Wild West town before, too.

How about the world in general? How much has that changed since you started out in music?
The world has lost its innocence. The world lost its innocence with the birth of the internet. Now, that guy who I was talking about before, who sits on his arse drinking beer, watching TV, getting his cheque from the government – who has nothing but time on his hands – gets on the internet and hides behind some alias and writes crap about an article you posted, or about me, or about some newscast, because he’s got nothing better to do. That’s a sad, sad story. These people, I have no time for them, they are a waste of space, and the world is going to take care of them. Their world is going to cave in on them.
Matt Reekie

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