A few minutes into the new documentary, Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise, the 60-year-old singer finds himself laying down the ground rules to filmmaker Bruce David Klein and his crew about what to expect over the next five weeks.
And while the singer had the final say in how the film turned out, giving them directions while sitting atop a washing machine doesn't exactly exude an air of power.
"I couldn't get into my dressing room because it was locked," he says. "I'm coming off as a real hard-assed kind of guy. I think most artists would've stopped it right there and said, 'OK, you can't portray me like that.' I wanted to see it as a whole and I wanted to see if it works as a film as a whole. Even though I'm not particularly fond of that moment in my life as a human being, as a whole it works so I left it alone."
The roughly 90-minute documentary, playing across 50 Cineplex theatres nationwide today and out on DVD May 13, follows Meat Loaf during a Canadian jaunt in early 2007.
Although there is the obligatory behind-the-scenes footage, performances and interviews with band members, a good chunk of the film concerns controversy.
During the classic Paradise By The Dashboard Light, the singer and a rather petite female vocalist, Aspen Miller, simulate making out on stage. The act, however, spooked a few Canadian critics who described it as creepy and perverted in reviews.
"In the documentary I say that I've given these journalists credit for being intelligent but I'm no longer going to give intelligent people credit for being smart," he says.
"It would be like they actually believe that Godzilla has attacked Tokyo on several occasions, that he was in New York and he went and laid eggs in Madison Square Garden and they found out it was a female.
"So obviously, the people that wrote about Paradise actually believe that Godzilla attacked Tokyo and New York."
The only thing that Meat Loaf has been seriously attacking lately is the salad buffet. After having a cyst removed from a vocal cord last November, and seeing how physically draining the performances can be, the performer lost 27 pounds. He's aiming to shed another 13 to hit 220 before commencing a European summer tour.
"I'm going to weigh pretty much less than I did when I was two," he says.
"The lowest I can ever remember weighing in my life was 185 and I was about in the fifth grade. And the next lowest was 238 and that was in 1989. So I'm hoping people don't even know who I am. I'm going to look pretty thin for Meat Loaf."
Following the Casa de Carne (House of Meat) European tour, Meat Loaf says he'll keep busy. Three movie offers are on the table, he's meeting with television producers and planning a new studio album (tentatively titled Bull In A China Shop) for sometime in 2009.
With so much in the works, it appears he's basically rubber-stamping anything that comes his way. But Meat Loaf says he's added some "in-betweens" to deal with the requests and proposals.
"You could sell me swamp land in Florida and the Eiffel Tower and it wouldn't be until after when my wife would go, 'You just bought the Eiffel Tower? You know you can't own that,' " he says. "That's what happens, people tell me these things and I agree to them. Then when I find out about it later I go, 'Why are we doing this?' -- 'Well, that's what you agreed to.' "
Toll taken on body and mind
The opening scene of Meat Loaf: In Search Of Paradise sees the performer on his back on a dressing room floor, completely spent and appearing to be in severe agony.
But Meat Loaf says the performance is as draining on the mind as it is on the body.
"I put so much focus into these moments and there are no distractions," he says. "You know how you watch a tennis match, like Wimbledon, the guys are playing and playing and then they win or lose. All of a sudden you can see it, their faces become exhausted and they can't walk. These guys are in great physical shape but it's because they're focused and the intensity has been so great, that emotion has been let out and that's exhausting."
Last Halloween at a concert in Newcastle, England, Meat Loaf lost his voice and cut the gig short, announcing it was his last show and inadvertently screwing fans out of a refund.
"I left the stage an hour into the show. I was onstage for one hour one minute and fifty-eight seconds," he recalls. "And the drag there for the people of Newcastle is that if you're on stage in the UK for longer than an hour, they won't give you a refund. I feel so horrible for those people, so I keep trying to find something to do for them."
And as for all the songs longtime writer Jim Steinman penned for the musician, including staples from the Bat Out Of Hell landmark, Meat Loaf quickly names the best lyrics Steinman ever wrote.
"For Crying Out Loud," he quickly replies. "I don't think there's been a love song before it or after it that could come close to topping it. I mean, he hasn't written one that can top it."
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