Brains, Brawn and A Bat Out Of Hell
The Scene - Northeastern Ohios Free Rock Music Magazine
December 8-14, 1977 - Vol.8, No.48
By Jim Girard
interview with the soon-to-be-infamous Meat Loaf and his partner in crime,
Jim Steinman, didnt start out that way. Actually, the two creators
of the Bat Out Of Hell album (on Cleveland International Records) phoned
me to take issue with a concert review I did of them when they appeared
at The Cleveland Agora a few weeks back.
Although I had loved the Bat Out Of Hell album and had met Meat Loaf
and Steinman when they were in town, we never really got together to discuss
their music seriously. So, when they called and began chiding me a friendly
manner, I thought Id better turn the tape recorder on.
After I finished talking with the two amiable artists, I realized that
wed been on over and hour and that I had more than enough material
for an interview. Ironically, when they were in town in November Id
passed on a chance to talk with them because of my schedule. No matter.
The result is that the Meat Loaf story is unfolded here, and its
a story that shows that these two talents have only just scratched the
surface of their capabilities. The future holds many surprises for an
unsuspecting rock public.
Meat Loaf was born in Dallas, Texas and decided to make his nickname
his stage name as well. Hes been using that handle for years. When
Meat Loaf starred in The Rocky Horror Picture Show film, he played the
part of Eddie, a greaser with half a brain. He doubled in that film (and
onstage) as Dr. Scott.
Jim Steinman hails from California, but lives in Long Island these days.
Steinman and Meat Loaf joined forces when they both worked on The National
Lampoon Show. Meat Loaf recalled his past experiences working as an actor:
Ive done a lot of Broadway shows and a lot off-Broadway things.
When Jim and I did National Lampoon together, it was really crazy. For
the Lampoon show, Id go in a corner and just sit and stare from
my chair for maybe four minutes. The lights were down low, and Jim would
play piano. Id just stare at them and Jim would be playing dramatic
stuff. Theyd get nervous and Id just sit there; some people
would dance, some would giggle and Id just stare. Then Id
turn to the audience and smile, saying, Ill bet youd
like to know wheat the hell I going on, wouldnt you?
After doing the Lampoon thing, Meat Loaf sang with Ted Nugents
band on the Free For All album - warming up for the project that he and
Steinman were planning. At the time, Meat was staying with Chevy Chase
(of Saturday Night Live fame), and he and Steinman were getting ready
for a concept album to end all concept albums: Bat Out Of Hell.
That project was finally realized last January, being produced and engineered
by Todd Rundgren. The seven lengthy songs featured Kasim Sulton and other
members of Todds entourage, as well as Edgar Winter (on saxophone),
Max Weinberg (drums) and Roy Bittan (piano). The latter two fellows are
from Bruce Springsteens E Street Band, and it was no coincidence
that Meat Loaf used these two, as he explained regarding Springsteens
affecting of their project:
One night Jim went down to see Springsteen play in New York, and
he came back and told me that he couldnt believe that Springsteen
was doing the same thing we were planning to do. But Jim and I were doing
what were doing before we ever heard of him. We were already working
together when we heard of him. Were nothing like he was, though;
hes real dramatic, too, but in a different sense.
Anyway, Todd Rundgren did the record with a minimum amount of trouble,
and Steinman and Meat Loaf were relieved at his helpful approach.
Todd was great, Steinman said. I was amazed at how
he didnt impose his things on the project. He actually terrified
me a bit because I expected him to come in and say, I want a minute
here in the song for some incredible guitar adds. But instead it
was Why dont you tell me exactly what you want? It worked
I was actually more in awe of Max and Roy than I was in awe of
Todd, the pianist continued. When I met Max, he was totally
perplexed that I ran up to him and hugged him; hes the most unassuming
person in the world. Hes just a drummer I love, though, because
hes not self-conscious about his technique. He is an incredibly
emotional drummer, and hes responsible for a lot of the momentum
on Bat Out Of Hell.
The title cut from the album is one gargantuan production number. Its
almost nine minutes long, but because it builds in various sections, its
incredibly well paced. I told Steinman that it must have been a bitch
to record that one. He laughed.
Bat Out Of Hell was actually done in one take, he revealed.
When we went into the studio to cut it, I thought we were gonna
be at it for 10 hours or more just getting the music down. Todd said we
were gonna play it in one take, and we actually did. However, we spent
$10,000 mixing that song. We mixed it about 20 times or so. It was much
harder to mix than it was to record. Id never been through anything
as traumatic as mixing that song, though.
Steinman writes all of the music and lyrics, and Meat Loaf interprets
them and delivers the goods. But how does a man go about writing such
an emotionally draining song, one so full of imagery?
Well, Bat Out Of Hell was always a phrase I liked a lot,
said Steinman. And I wrote the first two choruses and stopped. Then
I decided I wanted to have a motorcycle crash in it; I always loved those
car songs where people die - like Tell Laura I Love Her and things like
that. I love that stuff.
The first single form the album, though, is the song that follows the
title cut on the album: the Phil Spector-ish You Took The Words Right
Out Of My Mouth. Steinman explained that this song and several others
on the album were written for a musical he put together some time ago.
It was to be a futuristic version of Peter Pan, called Neverland. You
Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth opens with a spoken dialog from Ellen
Foley (one of the girls from TVs Three Girls Three) and Steinman.
That intro, Steinman said, was much longer than what
we put on the record. It was basically a wedding scene where Wendy is
initiated into the pack of lost boys. She becomes their mother, their
girl, their wife; I always loved Peter Pan.
Steinman grafted this spoken intro onto the song to create tension from
the spoken word to silence; then the music charges in. And dynamics and
dramatics such as these are what make Bat Out Of Hell more than just a
rock and roll album.
Steinman may create the tension, dynamics and lyrical genius that graces
the tracks on Bat Out Of Hell, but onstage it is Meat Loaf who reigns
supreme. In that setting, Steinmans job is to play piano and drive
the excellent road band that was put together (no mean feat) to duplicate
and expand upon Bat Out Of Hell. Meat Loaf, meanwhile, creates his own
tension onstage. He has been getting rave reviews and drawing large crowds
in every city on their current tour. When the band played Cleveland, it
was only their fourth gig, but they still blew everyone away.
I work off improvisation; thats my whole thing, the
singer said. Thats where Im coming from. Improv is like
the pacing that I do and acting really nervous. I like to set up a song
when I go onstage. I am an actor and I deal in theater; that whole pacing
thing is part of that. Ive performed for as many as 115,000 people
and Ive developed a lot of techniques over the years. I mean, Jim
and I tried to keep it underground that we were from the theater. We want
to create a different kind of rock and roll atmosphere onstage. As we
go along and get more money, itll be more theater. I mean
is really dramatic material were doing. It isnt as easy to
understand because were not, uh, Eric Carmen, you know?
When I saw Meat Loaf perform, I misinterpreted some of his onstage mannerism
for nervousness. He said he understood why:
Youre basically into rock and roll, and I understand that.
However, what were doing is different; we try to make the concert
hall a living room to a point. See, everything is really well planned
out. I mean it. Still, theres always that freedom which allows us
to do at any point whatever improv we want to do. What we do now is only
half a skeleton of what were trying to do. Weve got plans
for real theater. We arent into flash pots and smoke bombs; were
So, you havent heard the last of the dynamic duo of Steinman and
Meat Loaf. Before we hung up our respective phones, I asked Steinman why
the act is simply called Meat Loaf and why his own name wasnt attached
Originally it was Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, he answered,
but it was changed cuz we got a lot of flack from people who
thought itd be easier to market that album and package if it were
just Meat Loaf. To me, Meat Loaf represents an overall project.
Meat Loaf himself views their collaboration and partnership as a long-lasting
one. Weve been together so long, its that old thing
if hes cut, I bleed. Were that close, the singer concluded.
When I hung up the phone I realized that Id just talked to two
of rocks most sincere and interesting innovators. Then I cranked
up Bat Out Of Hell on my tape player and thought about what theyd
The Meat Loaf Success Primer
The Scene - Northeastern Ohios Free Rock Music Magazine
August 31- September 6, 1978 - Vol.9, No.34
By Jim Girard
Theres a story that I tell about getting the first cassette of
Meat Loafs Bat Out Of Hell album. (It was exactly one year ago this
week that it happened.) The story involves me playing this cassette (which
was not even in stereo) for everyone who came into my office. I took the
tape to last years Rock Awards and played it for people in LA. I
was infatuated, through and through, by this odd collection of rock and
A lot of people thought that Cleveland International was buying me off
with sex, drugs and what not. Truth is, I was just a boy, giving it all
away. Anyway, Meat Loaf found himself one staunch supporter the day I
first heard that little cassette.
What was it that made me love this record so much? I tried to analyze
it. I tried to rationalize it. I really didnt know what it was.
There hadnt been an album in years that hade me recall so much teenage
vision, so much humor and so much fury. I just knew that Bat Out Of Hell
was a mother of an album and that I couldnt stop playing it.
I was not alone: Clevelanders got into Bat Out Of Hell right off the
proverbial bat. WMMS-FM started playing the album in really heavy rotation
and getting more and more requests. Other markets werent so quick
to become believers.
When Meat Loaf and composer/pianist Jim Steinman formed a live band to
play the tunes that Todd Rundgren and Utopia, along with a host of session
greats, had made so dynamic, I was skeptical. However Meat Loafs
stage show was as powerful and convincing as his album. Those other markets
were not long for this world: Meat and company would soon conquer. The
band toured on an endless stream of dates. Meats dates in London
and Europe were accepted with a fever-like response. The stage show had
developed into a really dramatic look at Jim Steinmans songs. Believers
were being picked up every day; so were radio stations.
The Appeal Of Meat: The song titles themselves were inspiring enough
- each one was a cliché. Each cliché was already a well-known
saying that was easy to remember.
All of the songs were about lust, love, innocence and frustration. Some
people called them terminally teenage. I called them genius.
Bat Out Of Hell, For Crying Out Loud, You Took The Words Right Out Of
My Mouth, Heaven Can Wait, Paradise By The Dashboard Light, All Revved
Up With No Place To Go, and Two Out Of Three Aint Bad were all great
titles. As you can see, they are all clichés.
The lyrics to Jim Steinmans songs are brilliant. Good rock lyrics
are hard to find but Steinman had a gold mine of lyrics in Bat Out Of
Hell. His lyrics were clever, funny and totally heartfelt:
Youll never find your gold on a sandy beach
Youll never drill for oil on a city street
I know youre looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
But there aint no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker
(from Two Out Of Three Aint Bad)
The arrangements of the songs were just as much a part of the magic.
Theres drama in every guitar passage and fire in the chords. The
passion of the lyrics and the drive of the band make for a successful
Then theres Meat Loaf himself. His voice is unlike any other. He
is theatrical and macho where other singers are typical. Every song is
a one-act play and each song is a real story. Some singers sing the songs
on the record and perform them in the studio and act them out onstage.
And some people are still wondering what all of the fuss is about?
Meat The Man: Meat Loaf is already one of rocks most talked about
figures. With only one album under his (large) belt, Meat Loaf has gone
from being a lightweight contender to a heavyweight superstar.
The Dallas born Meat Loaf got into rock ass backwards, so to speak. He
was an actor in the National Lampoon Show and hung out with the cast (including
Chevy Chase and a pianist named Jim Steinman). Prior to that he starred
in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (hes on the album and film version)
as Eddie, the biker with half a brain. He sings a few songs and, generally,
blends into the film quiet well. The film is picking up tremendous momentum
as a Midnight Movie attraction and a lot of the renewed interest in the
film is due to Meats recent success.
Hes soft spoken unless provoked. Meat once cornered and scolded
me for printing that he was a good singer, but not a sex symbol. Meat
pulled out a book of phone numbers hed collected on the road. The
proof is in the pudding.
So, Meat Loaf is a sex symbol, of sorts. However, unlike other rock superstars,
he isnt untouchable. No, Meats whole thing is that hes
just another guy walking around.
If Meat Loaf is a sex symbol, he is one to thousands of non-trendy looking
women. Most groupies (you know: skinny blondes with bare midriffs and
big balconies) would find Meat such a strange character that they wouldnt
know how to handle him. For the most part, Meat Loaf has proven that you
dont have to be some half-starved pinhead to become a rock and roll
star. And for all of the guys in the audience, Meat Loaf represents normalcy
- the kind of guy you might work at the machine shop with. So, when Meat
sings All Revved Up With No Place To Go, he can sell the song; hes
been there, brother.
Counterpoint: If Meat Loaf is the macho side of the act, then Jim Steinman
is the intellectual side of the image. A total New Yorker in speech and
approach, Steinman talks fast and thinks faster. Hes an excitable
boy and he loves his work. Steinman has recently stopped playing piano
with the band (except for special dates) in order to write the material
for the second album.
Steinman is a man with vision, a strange combination of businessman and
artist. Its a winning combination.
Steinman was able to use his excellent writing and playing skills to
compose an album of total fantasy. Most of the songs on Bat Out Of Hell
were from a rock and roll play he wrote called Neverland; it was a rock
version of Peter Pan. People thought he was crazy.
However Bat Out Of Hell is now a platinum album and Two Out Of Three
Aint Bad was a huge Top 40 hit this summer. Steinman is a success.
Steinman prefers really good pop music to anything else. Hes a
big Raspberries fan and a big fan of music in general. His enthusiasm
for music is what makes his work so diverse and captivating.
Marketing The Meat: It hasnt always been a breeze. Selling Meat
Loaf was a laborious and frustrating thing several months ago. The strategy
was to totally saturate every possible media: interviews, special pressings
of the album on picture disc, live broadcasts, television, radio shows.
Whatever it takes seemed to be the motto of the people at
Cleveland International Records, based right here in town.
Having an act like Meat Loaf presented a few immediate problems. First,
Meat Loaf was a hulking guy who wasnt a socialite or a pretty boy.
Secondly, the songs on the album were long and many radio programmers
freaked out or wanted edited versions of the songs. Thirdly, the album
was getting heavy airplay in the Midwest, but was almost totally ignored
on the West Coast. To this day, Meat Loaf isnt nearly as big in
LA as he is in other parts of the country.
There were lots of stigmas to overcome in marketing Meat Loaf. The graphics
from the album appeared in posters, billboards, press ads and all over
the world. Its not over yet, either.
The Moral Of The Meat: The moral of this story is that if you want something
bad enough, and really believe in it, then there is no stopping you. Meat
Loaf and Jim Steinman werent just content to make a brilliantly
hip album. They didnt expect the company to sell it
for them and make them both millionaires. The devoted crowds didnt
just appear out of nowhere and the mania wasnt something that a
good press agent bought them.
No, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman have been selling their dream from the
day Bat Out Of Hell came out. Theyve done it because theyve
believed in it. Unlike many of their peers, they dont have any limitations
on what they will or wont do. Anything is possible.
And if Meat and Steinman become millionaires, itll have been because
they have worked harder than anyone else for it.
If they do become wealthy (as all rock stars aspire to do), I hope they
will remain as enthusiastic and sincere as they are now. People appreciate
and applaud honest enthusiasm; people can always tell. I think that Meat
Loaf and Jim Steinman will be okay