Performing Live in New York
Meat Loaf has built a career on two things that have become synonymous with one another: drama and passion. The iconic musician and actor has reached success in entertainment avenues that rarely collide on a mainstream pop culture level, hard rock and theater. But 45 years in the entertainment business, Meat (real name: Michael Lee Aday) has done everything in between at this point, including dozens of films and television including South Park, Glee, Monk, House, Celebrity Apprentice, Fight Club, Wayne’s World, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny – and who can forget his role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, now celebrating “The Time Warp” for a 40th year. The over-the-top energy that comes through Meat Loaf’s soul could be best captured arguably by Grammy-winning operatic rock song “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. It’s a song, like many on his catalog that showcases vulnerability, full force, all or nothing vocals. It’s no surprise really that early in his career, Meat Loaf and various incarnations of his band opened for everyone from blues musician Taj Mahal to rock goddess Janis Joplin to the Stooges and The Grateful Dead. Meat Loaf would likely credit much of his charisma and explosive stage presence to his early work in the Los Angeles production of Hair which led to a record deal in 1971, followed soon after by his Broadway debut in the rock musical. With the infectious call-and-response anthem “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” to the climactic “I’d Lie For You (And That’s the Truth)”, Meat Loaf has crafted his own brand of theatrical rock music that will stand the test of time and remain as an example to all rock stars what it means to leave it all on the stage. The “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” singer will release a new album in 2016, recorded in Austin and Nashville, with Meat possibly testing some new material at upcoming shows when he plays Long Island’s NYCB Theatre at Westbury on November 11 (following the State Theatre November 9 in New Brunswick, NJ). Though Meat remains mum on any details from the forthcoming Braver Than We Are album, he did go on to mention it could be his career best.
NYC Monthly: With 80 million records sold including the 1977 career-defining record Bat Out Of Hell, you have journeyed to Nashville and Austin to record your next album Braver Than We Are, which is promised to be a whole new sound for you. What’s the process been like recording in a new environment other than Los Angeles or New York?
Meat Loaf: Well we started the recording in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but it’s just too dry. I had to have back surgery, I’ve had five. This will be our first show in two years. I had back surgery, the first one I was in the hospital for 17 days, then 4 months of rehab. I was in Nashville, we left, we moved to Austin, TX three years ago. I figured Austin was really the place to come to hear lots of music, lots of singers, but a lot of them have allergies. It’s the same as Nashville. We found a house to set up our studio that has a heavy duty filtration system and I was in the house for 11 weeks. I watch The Voice. I find it much better than American Idol ever was. The interaction between four people is always hysterical. It irritates the hell out of me sometimes cause I remember when I was 22 I remember what my voice sounded like. If it was like Elvis I’d shoot the TV.
NYCM: Can you define the sound of the new record?
ML: This album is not like Bat Out Of Hell, but it is like it in that there was nothing else like it in the 70s. The closest you’d get was Queen. This one, I can’t even find anyone close to it. I mean there’s nothing, there’s a song on there that somebody else might have done but 90% of it is like nothing else – the opening song people are either going to take their CD and throw it against the wall or they’re going to laugh and keep going. There’s humor – you either like the record or you hate it, I much prefer that, than to have someone go “that’s just OK.” I am absolutely insane over this record. It’s different than Bat but in terms of quality, it’s on par with it. Nothing will be as good as Bat, it’s like impossible. It’s like nothing will ever be as good as Born To Run or The Wall. All these artists make these records and they are really special, like Hotel California – The Eagles make really great records but they will never replicate that. I think this is the best record I’ve done.
NYCM: After a year-long Las Vegas residency in 2013/2014 with your band The Neverland Express, what’s it like to be back on the road now?
ML: I’m not nervous about the stamina or my knee replacement surgery, all that’s fine. We did the Vegas run not long after knee replacement surgery. I’m more nervous about balance, I’ve had 18 concussions and they’re coming into play now that I’m a bit older. If I wobble on stage you’ll get these comments “oh he was drunk.” Excuse my language but f**k you. It’s the balance problem. I’m not nervous about my voice – you know my back is stiff, my nerves are about my balance. We’re going out to see how it goes. If it goes like I think it will we will keep doing more shows next year. The record company loves the record so much and we’re not finished with it yet. I have huge audiences in Europe, it’s like a ghost town there in July, August, so we will release it next September . It’s pretty astonishing when you listen to it all the way through. An artist has to love what they do before they can expect anyone else to like it.
NYCM: You have appeared in 61 films and television shows including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year. Tim Curry. Susan Sarandon. Barry Bostwick. You are all a part of one of the most celebrated movie musicals of all time. What does the legacy of this iconic piece of art mean to you and do you know how strongly New Yorkers connect with the film? Also is a reunion or reunion tour coming?
ML: If you had to go to the bathroom you’d miss me. I would say forty of them have been either leading roles or really good supporting roles. Susan, Barry, Patricia Quinn and myself – they’re doing an article on it in Entertainment Weekly. People forget, I was doing Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and Rocky Horror was the first movie I did. I was doing theater in New York for almost 8 years before Bat Out Of Hell came out. I got inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame, to me that’s it. The only other [award] that I could ever treasure is a Golden Globe or an Oscar. I do like my Philadephia Liberty Bell though, I can tell you that. And no, not really. Do you realize how many people connect with Fight Club? I’ve got two of those movies under my belt. Fight Club is not as classic as Rocky Horror. I don’t think of myself in that way so I don’t expect people to know who I am. I’m just a human being, I just happened to get caught up in this business instead of being a plumber.
NYCM: The lines between film and TV and theater and music are blurring more than ever. As you know, Broadway is full of shows that were once films and film musicals. Would you say that Rocky Horror was one of the first to really combine stage and screen and set a path for others?
ML: No. I think the show that did that was Hair. I just think that crossed over — Aquarias/Let the Sunshine In was a #1 record and I think that was the beginning of the crossover, the unpaved road and I think Rocky Horry then paved it. I also have to include Jesus Christ Superstar. Completely different kind of story, and I think Tim Curry summed up Rocky Horror better than anyone could. He goes: “Don’t Dream It – Be It.”