For most people, using a comfort food for a moniker might be weird. But Meatloaf doesn't mind.
"It is better than being called Dick," he said.
Meatloaf, or Meat, as he told me to call him after I mistakenly called him Mr. Loaf, will bring his bombastic stage show and catalog of smash hits to the Eagle River Pavilion on Monday, July 2, and he's pretty sure he will do or say something he regrets.
"I'm very much improv," he said. "Whatever comes into my mind, I take off. And then I'll walk off stage and say, 'Don't ever let me do that again, please.' Believe me, there's something I say every night that I go, 'Oh my god, why did I say that?'"
That freewheeling stage style paired with songs like "I'd Do Anything for Love," "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," and "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth," have made Meatloaf one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. His debut album, Bat Out of Hell, has sold more than 43 million copies. His total album sales are in excess of 100 million. And he's still touring large venues 46 years into his career.
Yet despite success beyond the wildest dreams of most musicians, he claims his real fame came from his movie roles.
"I'm an actor," he said. "That's what I know. That's what I've studied. If you want to go watch musicians play all kinds of eclectic riffs in C-7th minor, you go see Rush."
A moment later he added: "I don't know what C-7th minor is. But it sounded good."
Meat has played iconic roles in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, alongside less glamorous appearances in Spice World, Glee and the upcoming White Trash Christmas. He will even take two breaks from his current tour to shoot films.
So it makes sense that Meatloaf claims he doesn't sing his songs as much as act them.
"Jimmy allowed me to be the actor that I am with his songs," he said, referring to Jim Steinman, Grammy Award-winning songwriter for Meatloaf's biggest hits. "And that's always continued. Every album we've done has had characters up until this one, Hell in a Handbasket. Which is how I feel and is seen through my eyes."
Meatloaf is a stage character he debuted in 1978, when he embarked on a tour for Bat Out of Hell.
"I put that character together, and he's hysterically funny," said Meat. "Makes me laugh all the time when I see old footage of him in interviews. I laugh real hard. He's quite the comedian."
But Meat also claimed the only thing unusual about his character is that he's up front about it.
"Any performer, any rock performer, that tells you that is their self up there is lying through their teeth," he said. "They all have personas."
And that forthrightness has oftentimes worked against him.
"I've seen it written about me several times, 'How can he possibly feel the songs if he doesn't write them?' It's like going to Brando and saying, 'Your performance in Streetcar Named Desire sucked because you didn't write it, Tennessee Williams did,'" he said.
Meat explained that he works directly with songwriters when crafting the tunes he sings. The only exception was when he briefly recorded for Motown.
"They'd cut a track and call you in to come sing it," he said. "It is the equivalent to working on a movie set and the day you're going to shoot it, having them hand you rewrites."
In those cases, Meat has taken to telling directors: "Homey don't play rewrites."
But when the songwriter in question is Steinman--the man behind megahits for Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and Barry Manilow who was once asked to write lyrics for The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber--homey didn't have much to worry about.
"At the Songwriters Hall of Fame, I compared Steinman to who I consider the second-best writer of all time behind Shakespeare: Samuel Beckett," said Meat. "Beckett was the master of the human condition, but he also had a wit, a humor and wink of an eye about him. And that's Steinman."
The duo's catalog together is so iconic in its narratives that Meat said a Meatloaf musical along the lines of Mamma Mia or Rock of Ages is a frequently floated idea.
"We've been approached a lot," he said. "That's Steinman's deal. Jimmy wants to control it, so we let him do that. My guess is that at some point in the next several years, I'll step a little more into the picture and have a little bit more say about it."
But don't expect to see Meat onstage for that show if it happens. He's no stranger to Broadway, but it is a character he would likely reject outright.
"I get a lot of scripts," he said. "And if I get a script and I read it and I go, 'Oh, I know exactly how to do this,' I'll turn it down."
Instead, he said, he accepts the ones that make him say: "How in the hell am I going to pull that off?"
So what in that impressive oeuvre stands out most to Meat as his big moment?
"I haven't done it yet," he said. "It's a process. And the process is always about learning, always about improving. I've done some things that are good, but they aren't perfect," he said. "There's too many things out there to do. The minute you think you've done something, you might as well get in a corner and play Go Fish."
While some might say, at this point in his career, decades after he broke in the music world, Meatloaf is fooling himself to think that his defining moment is yet to come, he doesn't see it that way.
"It has nothing to do with relevance," he said. "It's like a painter who paints. Maybe his art doesn't sell, but he loves it."[ Video is no longer available. ]