I only had to ask Meat Loaf one question: "How are you?"
That pleasantry functioned as a conversational "open sesame," unbolting the floodgates to Meat's mind. A candid discussion of politics, music criticism, SB 1070, and identifying suspicious people on airplanes followed. And, oh, yeah, a few words about Meat Loaf's 11th studio album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear.
Mr. Loaf, less rotund than you remember and spunky at 62, still tours heavily and doesn't much care for the traditional reporter-questions-rocker format of interviews, it seems. And unlike Eddie, the loutish brain donor he portrayed in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, he's bold and quirky in conversation.
New Times music feature
Meat Loaf is scheduled to perform on Sunday, August 22, at Celebrity Theatre.
For example, he questioned me about the SB 1070 debate, then offered up his take.
"I think people are overreacting . . . I think you need to solve this problem and I think everybody's got their head in the sand at the moment, and nobody wants to actually reach out and solve a problem. If I was president, I've got news for you: I'd be solving the problem. I wouldn't care whether people liked me or they didn't like me. I'd be solving the problem. Because as taxpayers in America, we all spend, across the country, $19,000 a person on illegal aliens. So then give them citizenship. Give them things, and then they work. Stop, so we don't have to pay, and let them pay their taxes. The rest of us have to pay."
It's unclear where exactly these statistics come from. Also unclear: How President Meat Loaf would address such controversial matters as how to stop the drug cartels, reduce kidnappings in Phoenix, and find a single humane and just solution to the multi-dimensional issue of undocumented migrants in the United States, handling the situation in a way that would not alarm conservatives who are overly concerned with taxes while placating seekers of social justice. But, hey, he's Meat Loaf.
Refreshingly, the Loafster does not support the mass Arizona boycott by relevant and irrelevant bands alike. He went on to address this matter, as well as that of out-of-towners boycotting Arizona sports teams that come to visit their states.
"I think to boycott a game or boycott a city or anything like that — that's not going to get anything changed. We're not going to change anything because somebody doesn't come and do a show there . . . I mean, they're protesting outside a baseball stadium in Boston? Because [the Diamondbacks are] there playing baseball? No. I'm sorry — that's stupid . . . That was the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. I really thought, 'Oh, yeah, that's gonna do you a lot of good. The Arizona Diamondbacks are gonna come back and really change the way things are.' Gimme a break."
As our conversation progressed, it seemed more and more that Meat Loaf has become a caricature of himself.
His comments echo the qualities of his music. His rock opera-esque songs are bold production numbers with lots of frills, glitz, and cliché that dress up everyday ideas. Think about "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." It's an 81/2-minute epic in three movements about trying to have sex with a girl in a car. It even utilizes a narration by late Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto to metaphorically describe late-night fondling.
As for his new record, Meat Loaf had this to say: "There is not a single thing on Hang Cool Teddy Bear that I would change. Nothing. It is that strong . . . We made this record and we kept on this thing until it was friggin' perfect. And even if there's a flaw, the flaw is perfect. And that's what we're trying to do with the show as well."
So though Meat Loaf claims to not ever talk about politics, he did have a lot to say. And though he's happy to take criticism, he still believes his newest effort is perfect. As he so eloquently explained while discussing the complexities of the immigration debate, "Unless you're in the middle of it, you don't know. And entertainers speak out all the time without actually understanding what's going on. And I'm an entertainer. So I'm probably full of shit."
He might be full of shit, but he's also a really, really easy interview.
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