- Introduction 0:07
—Hi, this Meat Loaf and you know what, we’re gonna be talking about this new record, ‘Couldn’t Have Said It Better’. Hmm, well, let’s do that right now.
- Meat Loaf, welcome back 0:13
—Yeah, I never go anywhere though. I never feel like … people always go “welcome back’ … But thank you, I don’t mean to be rude to you. Ehm … because I work all the time. It’s just my mood changes on what I wanna do.
- ‘Couldn’t Have Said It Better (Myself)’ is an album featuring several interesting collaborations. 1:55
—That’s really how the record started. That’s how it kinda got going. Is that Pearl, my oldest daughter, went out on tour with Mötley Crüe, which was really interesting. She went out and Nikki said, “You should do a duet with your dad. You should sing with your dad on his record.” So Allen Kovac, my manager, has this writer named James Michael he’d been working with. And James is unbelievable. So Allen said, “If you want to write something for Meat, why don’t you write with you and James Michael?” Because James Michael had written on the Mötley Crüe record. So they’d already be working together. So they got together with this idea of doing something with Pearl, and they did it. And they called me up and were so excited and they said, “We want to come over and play it for you.” But I said, “No. No. You cannot come over and play it for me. Because I’m not gonna be in a room while you’re playing your song and you’re all excited.” So they brought it in, and they stuck it on my desk, and they go “OK, you’re gonna listen to it?” I’m going, “Yeah, I’ll listen to it.” And it’d let it sit there for like about a month, and people kept coming in, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t listening to this? Why don’t you …” And I said, “Because I can’t hear it yet. Because I’m not in any frame of mind to listen. I know you’re trying to get me started on a record, but I gotta go to a frame of mind to get there.” So finally I said, “OK, let’s listen.” I heard it, I listened, and it really did kind of, get the little … It didn’t start the dominoes falling over, just kind of, “OK, let’s set them up now.” And then James came. Some other people would come before that, we won’t get into all that, but then finally James Michael came on his own, and we sat there for a few hours and we talked about ‘Did I Say That?’ and that’s when it really started started. Because he played me a little piece of it, and I went “Oooh. Oh yeah.” Then I just kept going around to different people getting things, like I got Better Than Ezra.
- It’s not as if you haven’t been busy since your last album ‘Welcome To The Neighborhood’ in 1995. 1:02
—I was doing film too. I was doing a movie. Well, I did six in a row. Literally, I did six back to back. And ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Crazy in Alabama’ crossed each other, it was were, luckily … I had one week left on ‘Crazy in Alabama’ when ‘Fight Club’ started, and we were both shooting in downtown L.A. Well, I was supposed to be on the ‘Fight Club’ set and I drove, and it was early in the morning and I drove and parked and went in my trailer at ‘Crazy in Alabama’ and the first guy came and he went “What are you doing here?” I’m going, “What do you mean, what am I doing here?” And I went “Oh, I’m supposed to be on ‘Fight Club’” So I went over to ‘Fight Club’. And then I went right to another one and I was … Three of ‘em were in L.A., which was really, well, ‘Fight Club’ was in L.A., ‘Wishcraft’ was in L.A. and ‘Crazy’ ended in L.A., the last month was in L.A.. So that was good. Everything else was like, you know, in the high trees of the Amazon, it felt like.
- Did you go for a different production or overall sound this time? 2:15
—Steinman, like in ‘Anything for Love,’ for example he does the counter-melodies, [sings] ‘I would do anything for love’ but the counter-melody thing is the guitar and there’s a string part doing it. So you don’t really know. You don’t really sit and go “That’s a counter-melody.” So, I said, “What I wanna do to this whole thing,” and I really wanted that latin rhythm thing. And I tried it on one thing, and we took it off eventually, and so I scrapped that idea. But what we did do was … Everything is counter-melody to everything else. Even within the songs, but also from song to song. And the ending of the first songs and the ending of the last song is counter-melodies to each other. It’s running constantly. It’s not just always vocals—a lot of time it’s vocals, but it’s also guitars, strings, piano. Any any instrument that can play anything. I’ve got counter-melodies going against myself, like on that crazy wacky song called ‘Do It!’ Which also, I said on this record, “Listen, we always do, everything is about real life and about real emotion and emotions that people feel,” and everything is really melodramatic, I mean, it’s like … But that’s OK, because that’s what we did and that was fine. I have no problem with that. But I said, “You know what? I want to just throw it off a little bit. I wanna do, like, three guys who are drunk in some pub and singing, you know, a song that makes no sense.” So that’s what ‘Do It!’ is. A guy from Nazareth named Billy Rankin wrote that, and I’m sure it made sense to him. And that’s fine, and I’m gonna go tell him, but to me, and I flipped the verses around so now they really don’t make any sense. ‘Cause my image of that was guys sitting in a bar, so drunk, and there was some song on the radio. And you know how people get the lyrics all screwed up all the time? It’s like, or that car commercial where they went ‘ittybittymitty’ or whatever that is, and they can’t sing the lyrics, and there’s three guys, another slice of life.
- So once you were into the record, did you deliberately seek a change of pace on some songs? 0:40
—We got all the melodramatic stuff early on. And then I stopped and I said, “OK, guys, I need that emotion. I need that thing, but I, I need it to be a little happier, a little simpler, a little less heavy handed on it.” Just not everything, ‘cause I wanna keep what I do, but I need to just, I just wanna back off a little bit. So ‘Because of You’ which is just like this little pop song, but the message is almost like a prayer. It’s almost that kind of soft. It’s like almost to yourself. As opposed to standing on the top of a mountain screaming. Which is what I do a lot. I stand on the top of a mountain and scream across to the other mountain, so that people hear me. [laughs]
- How about the title track? 0:20
—‘Couldn’t Have Said It Better’ it’s that kind of really emotional love song, but there’s somebody there with you, unlike ‘Paradise’ or ‘Dead Ringer’ where they’re really fighting, it’s always fighting. Which is a whole other side of life. So I went, “OK, let’s do this, as opposed to what we did over here.” It’s got some flavors added to it, y’know.
- Does your acting inform your music, do you think? 0:34
—Of course it does, I mean, because, you know, I think the more you do—like Ronnie Wood, he paints—that’s a whole another … your brain works another artistic thing. If you just constantly, constantly, constantly, you know, trying to write a song, or trying to do this, and trying to do that … that’s why writers’ blocks occur. I mean, that’s why novelists have writers’ blocks. You know, Stephen King goes and coaches Little League baseball. You know, he has these outlets to get … ‘Cause coaching Little League baseball is definitely creative, ‘cause I’ve done it. So I have two other outlets.
- What’s your approach on acting? 0:56
—I got a lot of offers to do films, without having to go and, you know, jump through hoops, and … But sometimes, you know, people want me to go jump through hoops. I don’t mind that. I, don’t, don’t never ever mind reading, go in reading, because … First of all: they don’t give it to me, they’re wrong. Second of all, I still get to work the characters. ‘Cause a lot of actors, you know, they take their readings, they pick it up, they go and they read, they work on it. But I use a different way. I work a lot of hours when I do that, ‘cause I don’t do that many. So I work a lot of hours, and I go to my coach and I really work the character. So to me it’s like, you know, in that situation, go into a class and, and have, you know, get critiqued and you do the whole thing. So I don’t just take it as some piece of paper and I’m gonna go and read for this guy and then walk out and don’t care, because that’s just not me. If somebody sends me some pages to go in for some audition, I like, treat it like I’m, you know, heading for Academy Award nomination.
- That’s similar to your all-out approach to performing on stage. 1:39
—You cannot go like I go on a stage and it not be real. You can’t fake that. The other night, I wasn’t panning on doing ‘Two Outta Three’ and I just snapped on ‘Two Outta Three’ and … I run on what the energy level is in the house. You know, just because there’s a song written down that I’m supposed to do doesn’t mean I’m gonna do. I run on the energy of the building. It’s not me on stage and them out there. It’s like a big egg, and we’re all inside this egg, and whatever that’s egg’s doing, that’s where we’re going. You know, it’s like, those people who do the same thing every night, no matter if it works or not. They go out and give the same speech, and cry in the same place and they say the same words, and they, you know, hop in the same place. I mean, I’ve seen bands, it’s hysterical … I’ve done, like, festivals with bands and have done like six shows with them, or something. I don’t know how they do it, but they hop in the place, they do the same pose in the same place. It’s like they got little footprints on their stage. [laughs] I sit up there and it cracks me up. It really does. It looks like they got little colored, like you’re doing a film and they put marks down for you to step, you know, but they got little colored feet and they go, “OK, you know, we’re gonna do this song and you’re gonna stand here and you got your left foot in front of your right foot and you beat the tambourine. And now you take four steps to the mike, you turn left, you look at the guitar player.” And people said to me they’ve been doing that for years and years and years. And I said, “I guess that’s why I don’t need the footprints down there.”
- So you can over-think these things. 0:48
—I hate thinking. I don’t like thinking. The minute you, the minute you think—it’s like, I heard, I hear interviews and things like that and I think the first person I ever heard say that was Aretha. They said to her, “How do you do what you?” She goes, “Well, I don’t know.” They go, “Well, how does it come out?” And she goes, “Well, the one thing I don’t do is think about it. It just comes.” Then I went, “That’s right!” But sometimes you know that, but it takes somebody to like, say it, to verbalize it, for you actually, you go … to comprehend, “Oh, yeah.” And there’s things, like, that I’ve read that Marlon Brando has said, and I said, “Oh, that’s how you verbalize that.” Or, you know, [unintelligible, probably some actress’ name] because I read actors all the time. I don’t read too many musicians. ‘Cause musicians tend to not give me any information.
- Let’s talk about video’s, especially the new one for ‘Did I Say That?’ 1:24
—Even in videos, when you go to the words ‘Did I say that?’ you can picture the video. But if you listen to it enough you’ll get out of it. I never try to leave you that much, even on ‘Anything for Love’, that was a heavy visual thing, it’s like a big one, way back in the eighties, was Billy Joel’s ‘Pressure’ and he was floating through the floor and everything. But still today, when that song comes on you know maybe once in a while I flash to a piece of the video, like the pimp falling through the floor, but the rest of the time it’s like I’m don’t think about Billy Joel. I’m going, “Yeah, that’s how I feel.” You know, or the other that’s pretty visual, ‘Sledgehammer,’ that pretty much locks you in on that. But even still, you can leave that. But when first hear it, you automatically come to him either coming down the shoot or something, but then you get off. And I believe most people are intelligent. People are very intelligent. They’re very perceptible, subconsciously. And I think, you know, any artist that ever says that an audience is, like, stupid or they believe that … they’re so wrong. I mean, that’s … I tell any artist, you know, don’t believe that an audience doesn’t know what the hell is going on. I say they may not be able to verbalize it when they walk out of a building, but subconsciously, they got it, baby. They got it.
- You mentioned your daughter, Pearl. 0:14
—She’s been singing with us for a long time. She’s been singing with us for almost ten years. When she was in high school, and we would go out in summers, she’d come out and sit on stage and sing backgrounds with us. So it’s been almost ten years.
- Tell me about your producer on the new record. 0:59
—Oh, well we can talk about Peter Mokran ’till some time, you know, next week. I don’t wanna … You know, I’m not saying anything bad about Steinman, but doing vocals with Steinman is like being tortured by some, you know [unintelligible, sounds like what an terrorist organization would be called] or something, you know. I’m telling you, I love Jimmy, but Jimmy is just not verbal. You know Jimmy’s lines to me in a vocal would be, “Meat, I’ve heard you do that better.” That helps. OK. You know, it’s like a director going saying to you in a scene, “Let’s do that again, you did it better before.” Well, how did I do it better, because, it’s like I’m supposed to remember what I just did? I mean, when I’m singing, I black out. I leave. When I’m doing film, I don’t know what the hell just happened when we finished. You know, you want a director to come over and say, “OK, now, this—when you did this …” blahblahablah, you know? Jimmy goes, “I’ve heard you do that better.” OK, Jimmy, give me a clue.
- A couple more songs I want you to ask about: ‘You’re Right, I Was Wrong.’ 0:14
—Oh, yeah, well that’s Diane Warren. ‘You’re Right, I Was Wrong.’ I’m convinced she wrote for Travis Tritt or Vince Gill or somebody. And she just just threw it at us and I went, “This song’s amazing.” And so … she heard that, she was flipped. She couldn’t believe that it turned out like that.
- And your version of Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’. 1:43
—That was just done. That was the really last minute. I went to a golf tournament. And ‘Forever Young’. Somewhere I heard it, I’ll show you my computer, I’ve written it down in my little notes somewhere: ‘Forever Young’. Songs to do: ‘Forever Young’. And I don’t remember hearing it, and I don’t remember why I wrote it down. And it shocked the hell out of me when I saw it there. It was the day we were getting the tracks. I came in on ‘Forever Young’ and I said I wanna do ‘Forever Young’ and they said ‘The Dylan thing’ and I stopped at a bookstore, one of those giant bookstores that now sells CDs, and I got ‘Forever Young’ and I took it in. And he goes, “Well, OK,” so we played it. And he’s looking at me and going, “OK.” So I think they thought this wasn’t going to work, I mean, no way. When I did the vocal and Peter is like flipping out at this vocal. He’s going, “Now I know why you had to do this song.” And he kept pushing the button, going, “Meat, it’s unbelievable! Meat, it’s unbelievable!” And he never did that. He only did that on like two or three songs. ‘cause Peter normally, I’d say “How we’re doing?” He goes, “We’re doing great Meat?” I’d say, “How we’re doing?” “Meat, we’re doing great.” I’d say, “OK. Peter, how we’re doing?” ‘Cause I get so paranoid. ‘Cause I don’t hear it. ‘Cause I’m lost in it. And I did every vocal so fast with him. And that was it. It was like no torture. I mean, it is torture. For me, to go in a studio is absolutely torture. It’s like having open heart surgery without anesthesia. It’s the most painful thing for me in the world. And then to do it with Jimmy. ‘Cause we suffer for hours. So imagine having open heart surgery for twenty hours without anesthesia as opposed to three. You know, it’s much easier.
- Do you think Peter Mokran and Jim Steinman will both work on your next record? 0:52
—What I’m trying to is get Jimmy and Peter to do, ‘cause we’re gonna do ‘Bat III’, get Jimmy and Peter next January, to try to sit down, see if we got the song ready enough. Get Peter and Jim then to go through on Pro-Tools and let’s get the three us to work it out, then I’ll go away and tour some more and let them do the tracks, ‘cause it’ll be fine ‘cause you can change anything. And then come back and see if I can do the vocals with Peter. And the Peter and Jimmy, I mean, Jimmy can be there, but just, Jimmy sit over there, and talk to Peter, and let Peter talk to me. And then let them, let, you know, they’ll mix and I’ll, ‘cause I never, I never sit with the mixes. ‘Cause I wanna be away from ’em. I have mixes after they got their first mix, they they give them to me and I go “OK, they’re real close, but blahblahblahblahblah.” ‘Cause I know I hate being in the room when they mix, ‘cause they you don’t have any perspective.
- You’re soon to start touring the new album, aren’t you? 0:16
—We’re going to start in Mexico City, actually. June sixth and seventh. And then we’ll tour America and then we come into Germany, then we—usually we go UK, Germany, this year it’s backwards, we’re going Germany, UK. Then we’re gonna go, do Australia, and we’ll come back and see where we go from there.
- Any closing words about this new album? 0:06
—We did work real hard, Peter worked real hard on this record. And, and the record is really, really great, so it’s what it is.
Interview and post-production by Paul Sexton, March 2003
|Label||Universal / Polydor||Cat.No.||MEATINTCD1||Format||CD||Year||2003||Country||EU||Notes||For promotional use only — not for sale|