Meat Loaf Talks "Hell in a Handbasket", Collaborations, "Lost" and More
Mon, 26 Mar 2012 07:58:52
On Hell in a Handbasket, Meat Loaf belts out one epic after another.
It's another massive, cinematic album from one of rock's biggest voices. However, Meat's got a deeper message in mind for this offering. Rather than make swooping political statements, he urges for 21st century compassion, encouraging unity simultaneously while he croons and carries each arena-ready hook. What's more classic than that?
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Meat Loaf discusses the story behind Hell in a Handbasket and so much more.
Where did the idea for Hell in a Handbasket come from?
For the last six or seven years I've said, "The world's gone to hell in a handbasket." It just keeps going that way. I have Slingbox so I flip between MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. It's like a schizophrenic thing for me [Laughs]. During the McCarthy era, the fear was that everybody's a communist. You were blackballed. There's a definite division in the country right now. It's bigger than it has been in years and years. The hypocrisy and rhetoric are rampant. It's a mess. In a sense, Hell in a Handbasket is a political record, but it's done through metaphors as opposed to hitting you over the head with a hammer. It's political in the form of humanity and compassion as opposed to Democrat, Republican, Communist, or Socialist. It's more about emotions. I talk about depression on this record too. I don't make an album of songs. I never look at them as songs. It's a very interesting thing how my mind perceives a record. I perceive it as almost a little film. I don't think in musical terms so I can't possibly think in song terms. I really think in film terms. I see it visually, and I see it played out. Let's take "California Dreamin'." I see the guy in a ragged gray winter coat wearing gloves. It's snowing. His hair's a mess. He's miserable. Everything about him is depression. I really believe that's what John Phillips intended in "California Dreamin'." It's metaphor, and it never dawned on me until a couple of years ago. I thought of it as a nice little happy pop song about going to California. Then I realized what it was.
What's the story behind "Fall From Grace"?
That's basically an epilogue because I think in terms of books or movies. It's the old saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." That's what that is. People are always there to cast the first stone. With the internet, it's gotten even worse. There's a real hatred and separation in the world created by that. When Whitney Houston died, that upset me. I didn't know her well enough to call her up and go, "Hey Whitney, let's go out to dinner." I saw her in 1984 right when she was taking off in the UK, and I talked to her for about 45 minutes. Usually, I don't meet people for the first time and talk that long. We got along great though. I saw her a few years later and we had this hug and conversation. The only social event I really go to every year is the Clive Davis party. I was up in Vancouver shooting, and I could've gone. If we would've been in the States, I would've gone.
Where did "Blue Sky" come from?
The opening before "All of Me" is the chords to "Blue Sky", which people don't pick up on. The "Blue Sky" you hear before "Mad Mad World" is actually a live recording. We were going to record it. I heard the live recording and emotionally it was perfect. We did it at the end as well. It all was intended. If you have the sleeve for the album, the second verse of "Blue Sky" is printed. I wanted to do it as a whole piece, but then I decided to run it as a whole theme. It is what the album is about. If I just did it as one song, I don't think you would understand that. If you're constantly coming back to "We all live under the same blue sky", we all breathe the same air, we all feel the same things, we all hurt, we all cry, and we all laugh. It doesn't make any difference what color you are or size you are. We're all one, and we all live under the same sky. Why's everybody doing this? Can't you just get along?
How was the chemistry between you Lil Jon, Mark McGrath, and Trace Adkins?
I love Mark. I heard this song, and it was a rock song, but I made it rock-country. I know Trace. I can't think of a time where anyone else has ever done a rock-country-hip-hop song [Laughs]. There's never really been rock to real country singing to real hip hop. Lil Jon is hip hop. You can't expect anything from a Meat Loaf record. We didn't use that Bat Out Of Hell Phil Spektor wall of sound on this record. It doesn't exist.
If you were to compare Hell in a Handbasket to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
I'd say Lost because of how my mind works [Laughs]. I'm very eclectic, and that show is very eclectic. Every week, they took you on another little journey and trip. I always make eclectic records. My furnishings of my house are eclectic. I don't say, "I'm going to have a modern house with all modern furniture" or "I'm going to have a Victorian house with all Victorian furniture." I think that's boring, monotonous, and mundane.
Who do you still want to collaborate with?
Anybody who wants to! There are too many—Adam Lambert and Florence + The Machine. I'd love to do a song with Steven Tyler. I've done one with DAUGHTRY. It's endless. There are so many great people out there with great ideas. I did something with Jennifer Hudson and she was really nice. I love duets. I know who. Garth Brooks is one I really want to do something.
Are you excited for Hell in a Handbasket?