Q - Did you quit the tour?
JS - I had to stop. I had to stop after a year to write. I was exhausted, that was part of it, but I can't write on the road. I don't know how people do that and there was a second album to prepare for. So I left the road after about a year to write and someone replaced me. It was funny, what it was like on tour for that first time with Meat Loaf. One story that really reflects a lot is that Meat was really caring about me.
JS - You really could tell that I was going through hell, and I cared about him. We both knew we were going through hell but we couldn't stop it and David was in charge, and David was doing what he felt a manager had to do. You know, flog the product. So he wouldn't lay up with the schedule and we were trying to get him to ease up 'cause Meat had lost his voice. He had lost his voice so bad at one place in Omaha, well it was Omaha that he couldn't speak before the show.
JS - He was like, I can't talk Jimmy. I want to do the show anyway. I said, why can't? I can't cancel. I can't cancel. I'm gonna do the show. So he does the show without being able to talk but faking it. He still made it work out of sheer will and dramatic presence. When it was over he did the same thing, he's fainted and he pulls me, close to my ear (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I did it. I didn't sing but I did it (laugh)
JS - It was like it was both of them, they were all kind of falling. The audience sang along. They knew everything. It was sort of a lesson too about concerts. That you need to come prepared, but it got worse from there and they couldn't cancel things. You know, he'd get his voice back (and) would lose it again. There was one point halfway through the tour where, I forgot where we were, but oh yeah we were in Canada, so it was something like Toronto or Montreal.
JS - It was a big hockey state. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bigger in Canada. So we're playing like 20,000 people in Canada. We would still be playing a small place in America. Before we went on I guess I was at the table eating something like something that Oliver Twist, I probably was like one of those kids eating the gruel, 'cause it's just in slow motion like (MAKES NOISE). Meat comes over really concerned, very sweet, and he goes, Jimmy you're dead aren't you?
JS - You're really tired. I said, I'm exhausted Meat. What about you? He says, I'm beyond dead but I gotta keep going on. You know, tomorrow night's Albany and I said, oh no. Don't say that. Hold me. So you don't want to play Albany do you? I said, I can't Meat. You've gotta stop. Albany is just, we have to, we have to. I sure don't like it and I kept eating my gruel. We went on that stage and it was one of the most amazing concerts, it was in this hockey rink. They had a huge raised stage that they put up.
JS - About, you know, maybe 15, 20 feet off the floor and we're performing on it and when it comes time doing the encore, which is River Deep, Mountain High, Meat's at the back of the stage and I look in his eyes and I always felt in tune 'cause I knew what he was thinking. I may be delusional but I thought it. I said, that guy is gonna do something now. I know it, 'cause when we had a talk right before the show he said, I'm gonna get us out of Albany.
JS - We're not gonna play Albany. I'm not gonna put you through that. I'm not gonna go through it. I said, you can't Meat. You already talked to David. He's not gonna cancel it. They're not gonna tell me what I can do. This is my life. I control my life. I can cancel my own life. And, you know, I thought whoa he's gonna do something tonight and that night during River Deep, Mountain High he goes running like a stallion but doesn't stop at the edge of the stage. Just runs off the stage and falls (MAKES NOISE) in a complete jumbled mess on the floor.
JS - Like a 20 foot drop. You look down, and I could see it from where I was at the piano, and you saw a leg totally twisted where you know it's been broken in about 80 spots, like the knee is parallel to the thigh. It (was) just horrible looking. All the medics, we just kept playing. We're so used to anything we never stop playing. We just finished the song and (SOUNDS LIKE) instrumentally walked off stage. We just, just like when I saw David choking him, or him choking David. Nothing surprised me.
JS - You know, and nothing shocked me. So we kept playing and then a guy named Sam Ellis, who was the tour manager, comes backstage and we're all getting dressed and (WORD?) the lockers and Sam says, okay, he's like in this really frenetic mood. He says, all right, this is really bad. I don't know what to tell you. His leg is badly broken. All I can say is it's broken in a lot of spots, gonna required surgery, I can't get a lot of people to the hospital.
JS - I can only take maybe three people. No one raised their hands. It wasn't that we're callous, we just had to get out of there. You know, it just, nothing was quite real on this tour, and no one raised their hand. He says, I can take three people. It was like he was recruiting them. Anyone want to come? Finally I raised my hand. He says, you want to come Jim? I said, no I really don't want to come but I just have a question. Is there any more food 'cause that gruel was terrible.
JS - Is there anything else to eat? He said, this guy has a broken leg. I know, I know but I'm really hungry, and I just went back to the motel and later we found we had to cancel about a month because of his leg, which was a blessing in disguise. Interestingly enough, we came back. We did a gig at Queen's College, New York that I think is one of (the) best shows I ever saw Meat Loaf do, and one of the reasons is he did it in a wheelchair and the cast in a wheelchair.
JS - It was kind of watching Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Iron Maiden. It was, so we had just, he had gotten a wheelchair but it meant he couldn't run around the stage so it was just the music, just him singing it. It was magnificent. You know, it didn't have all the theatricality but he's still so theatrical and dramatic, and vocally it was much better 'cause he could just concentrate on that. But that was the only break we had on the tour. He kept touring away after I left until his voice went so ragged, that's why he couldn't do his second album right away. He was just screwed up.
Q - How important was the cover of the album?
JS - To me it's crucial.
JS - Yeah, the album cover is, you know, to me I don't even disassociate it from the songs, the performer, the writing. It was an obsession of mine. I mean, it was my idea. I loved this guy Richard Corben. I used to read Heavy Metal Magazine all the time. I loved that kind of style. It was the perfect style 'cause it was comic book but also thrilling and heroic, violent, sexual, erotic but it had a great wink to it and that's what I thought the music had.
JS - It was totally over the top. I mean, that was the thing I was always accused of the most. People would say, don't you think your music is a little over the top? And I always have the same answer that it seems to be required to go over the top if you're doing rock and roll. I always said, if you don't go over the top you're not gonna see what's on the other side so what's the point? I saw basically you should start over the top and then find some new frontier.
JS - So I never cared about being over the top or excessive and I wanted a cover like that. Now CBS had picked out a cover which was a '50s housewife taking a meat loaf out of the oven and with Meat Loaf's head superimposed in the meat loaf. As you can see I didn't consider this very mythic or any (UNTELLIGIBLE) heroic. I was horrified. It was a really hard sell to sell them on this cover, and it was. I've never met Richard Corben, we did it over the phone.
JS - I called him. I told him the idea of the record, the cover, I said, I was right, very precise. He's a brilliant artist and I said, you know, it's gotta be this motorcycle shooting out of a graveyard like a rocket ship at an angle with stones flying, a bat on a steeple. Almost every detail was, you know, not every detail 'cause he had a lot but, and he sent me the cover done and that was it. It was perfect. I think that was a really crucial part of the record.
JS - Even to this day I was pleased. I'm doing a show on Broadway and the set designer I felt really good about 'cause when I met him for the first time he said, you know, I'm probably the only set designer in America who subscribes still to Heavy Metal Magazine, and I bought Bat Out Of Hell before I heard any music when I saw that cover. I said, I have to have this. I don't think there are a lot of people who bought it from the cover but it's one of the, I think, great covers.
JS - It's certainly one of those covers that shows what the album sounds like. I mean, the album, you know, it's like anything great. Everything about it is unified and that's an album that's cover looks like the music sounds and like the show felt.
Q - Where there any other titles for the album?
JS - You know, I don't remember any alternate titles. There might have been but to me all I remember is Bat Out Of Hell.
Q - Where did that phrase come from?
JS - All my songs were like I always start with a title. Well 90 per cent of the time and then work in usually from the title. I listen for everyday phrases 'cause language is so rich. I mean, I swear to God if people wanna think of what, how to write a song, just really listen and I guarantee you'll hear 10 phrases a day that are amazing phrases. You know, just coming to this room, in the elevator, this woman was saying, there are so many stores to go to I can't begin to tell you. I thought, what a great title, I can't begin to tell you.
JS - I mean, it's an amazing, you know, just (the) same as you took the words right out of my mouth. I don't know where I'd heard of it but what an amazing phrase, if you twist it around. Which is something that has to do with country music does a lot. But I once wanted to be a country singer a lot and one thing I loved about country songs was the love of language and that's something that Dylan brought back too, and The Beatles, with great intensity to rock and roll, is the sense of language.
JS - Which is really overlooked a lot. I remember as a kid being really resentful of a guy I loved in television, Steve Allen, really started late night talk shows. One of his big bits was to make fun of rock and roll lyrics. He'd read them very pompously and he'd go, (SINGING) and he'd make fun of them. I'd be there going, actually, that's a great lyric. I was thinking, how can anyone be so cool as to think of (SINGING) and I never understood what he meant.
JS - I thought those were some of the, you know, all the way to this day, some of the greatest lyrics aren't lyrics. They're sounds. When I was a little kid I remember records like The Lion Sleeps Tonight, the (SOUNDS LIKE) Tokians. (SINGING) and I was thinking, wow, how do they write that? It's so great and if you're in love with sound and images and words, that's half the struggle I think and so Bat Out of Hell was, I probably heard it, God knows. You know, either it was just in my brain or might have been watching a football game and heard, boy that guy he shot that thing like a bat out of hell.
JS - All I know is I thought that is an amazing image. To be a part of the language. Just, if you take it literally, like a bat out of hell and it just grew from there. You know, the first thing is that it means fast so I think I first constructed a story with a world where someone had to do something like a bat out of hell, which was leave when the morning came. Like the night, I've always loved the night so it's like the night offered pleasures and forbidden secret, you know, wonders. Sensual pleasures.
JS - But when the day came he had to leave like a bat out of hell. But I always want to take it that extra step which is why I knew I always wanted to write a great car crash song, and that's about mythology and iconography too in rock and roll. When I was growing up as a kid I remember certain things really stood out and one of them is there used to be a great series of car crash and motorcycle songs, and they made a huge impact on me because they were stories.
JS - And rock and roll hasn't always embraced story songs. I remember really vividly when I first heard a song called Tell Laura I Love Her. It was amazing to me. A story with a car crash and severed hand and a ring on the hand. And teen angel. They were amazingly morbid and gruesome. They're all about salvation, redemption, sacrifice. Very mythic. Great stuff. Country had done a lot of that too but the music wasn't as interesting to me for country.
JS - I remember thinking to myself, I gotta write the most extreme crash song of all time. One of my favorite records ever was Leader Of The Pack by The Shangrilas which was the first motorcycle crash song that I remember, and also was produced like a movie. It had dialogue in it. It just really affected me. This guy named Shadow Morgan and it had the girls talking, and like girl talking to her girlfriends about the boy she's in love with. Then you heard the motorcycle and it had, it was like a movie.
JS - I wanted the records to be like movies. That was a lot of the point of Bat Out Of Hell. I never wanted it to sound like a real thing. I never wanted to, you know, in the '50s records started out like documentaries in that they were basically a documentary of a recording session. When (you) heard all the Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, you heard the pianist, the bass player, the guitarist in the studio, and that's what they thought records were.
JS - Or an orchestra and a singer. What was so great about Phil Spector, my hero, as a producer is he made records where you couldn't imagine the musicians playing. Like if you listen to what I think is the greatest record ever made, You've Lost That Loving Feelin', The Righteous Brothers, you can't imagine musicians there. It just sounds like the sound emanated from the earth or the heart or the soul. You can't imagine players. I thought that was a great advance. It was like when they enabled the camera to move in movies. It was no longer just a play, it was a movie.
JS - It had it's own imagination, and no boundaries. I (WORD?) felt like that with records and I thought Bat Out Of Hell should be in that tradition. You shouldn't just think of a band. It should be much more like entering a film.
Q - How did your (WORD?) sound differently than his?
JS - Well I used different instrumentation. You know, it was far more rock and roll than pop but I bought, you know, if You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth is a tribute to Phil Spector and Todd Rundgren was great in helping get the Phil Spector sound. And there, you know, I don't want to get too technical but Phil Spector did revolutionary things. He replaced the drums a lot with percussion, had the percussion play the parts rather than the snare drum.
JS - It was a big advance. He tripled parts like crazy. He had three pianos playing live, four bass players playing live, everything was multiple. So you never could really sense one instrument. He was, a lot of the feeling is the best example that, you know, anyone that wants to be a songwriter or musician I would say listen to that record for four hours straight and that's all you need to know.
Q - Is it true that Spector never talked to you about Bat Out Of Hell?
JS - No, he knew about it. One time I met him he was too busy telling me jokes. He's a frustrated (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but he told me great jokes, but he knew what I had done. He seemed to know everything about charts and he knew that I idolized him.
Q - Which person loving the record meant a lot to you?
JS - You know, it's hard to say. I'm always amazed. I shouldn't be if it sold 40 plus million copies but I'm amazed every, to tell you the truth, every person who, you know, I read every bit of mail and I'm moved by almost all of them. I mean, I've probably read 20,000 pieces of mail that just amaze me 'cause they're often great stories and, you know, about people's lives being saved and all this. As far as people specifics, I'll tell you one that stands out is George Martin, The Beatles producer.
JS - When I finally met him, which wasn't until 1995 I think, I was totally thrilled 'cause he was a huge fan and plus I liked the way he phrased it, it wasn't artistic so to speak. It was a party given by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who I was working with, and George Martin was there, and in the living room was like 20 other people there. George Martin just suddenly stood up and did this toast and said, Jim I just want to toast you because Bat Out Of Hell Two basically revitalised the record (SOUNDS LIKE) distance last year in England, I own three studios.
JS - So you personally brought me a lot of business and there's nothing I could be more genuinely thankful for plus I think they're absolutely brilliant records and you're continuing a tradition I felt that we started with those Beatles, trying to push the envelope and the frontier in terms of sound and I just want to thank you for some great, great recordings. I was tingling 'cause it was George Martin who, you know, (was) another hero.
JS - An that's another great example. You know, when you listen to, not the early Beatles but you listen to Sergeant Pepper or The White Album, you don't envision a band in a room. It's a whole other creation. He took records to a whole new place and Roy Thomas Baker, who produced Queen, was a big fan. That meant a lot to me. A lot of musicians too numerous to mention. I was incredibly thrilled when Lou Reed wrote something for Musician Magazine that was so eloquent. Most of the stuff is from Bat Out Of Hell Two because I wasn't reading stuff as much in, Bat Out Of Hell one.