Meat Loaf is first and foremost a performer. Everything he does, he said, he draws from his background in theater.
“All the rock shows, everything,” Meat Loaf said. “All the albums. That’s why I don’t put my face on the album covers. John Grisham doesn’t put his face on the front of ‘The Firm,’ because he wants you to have your visions. It’s not about my visions; it’s about the listeners’ visions.”
Sitting on the darkened PH Showroom stage for an interview, Meat said he has big plans for his upcoming Vegas show, the first artist in the RockTellz & CockTails residency at Planet Hollywood. RockTellz is described by producer SPI Entertainment as “VH1 Storytellers meets MTV Unplugged.”
An acoustic set it is not, Meat said. Again, he’s a performer, an actor.
“We’re rocking your socks off, dude,” Meat said. “It’s a very schizophrenic show. They go, ‘What’s the theme?’ And I go, my brain. Meat Loaf’s head.”
He’s assembled a band he’s quite proud of, including a big band drummer, a classical guitarist, a heavy metal guitarist, a pianist and a saxophonist.
“I have the best band in the world,” he said “That’s not an ego trip, and that’s not bragging. That’s just a simple fact.
“It’s not all about Meat Loaf,” he said. “We feature the piano, we feature the guitar, we feature the girls. We feature the audience. It’s just like a constant bombardment of different things coming at you. … It’s like, ‘whoa.’ It’s like a tornado.”
At times, Meat will be onstage, iPad in hand, scrolling through some 300 photos to show on a large screen, depending on what people in the audience ask him. Every show will be different, he said, because much of it depends on the questions from the audience.
“It falls on the audience,” Meat said. “I have no clue. I know what the show is, but I don’t know what it is.
“They might ask me a question (and) I’m not going to give them the real answer, but I’ll lie about it (laughs). Because a great storyteller is able to embellish. And if somebody wants to ask me a serious question about something, most the time I’ll never make it that serious. I will always flip it on them and take it out to where we will get a laugh.”
The rock ballads Meat said he plans on performing include “Bat Out of Hell,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.”
“I still do three of the songs in the same key that we recorded them in 37 years ago,” Meat said of “Bat Out of Hell, “Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
“I wrote to someplace today,” Meat said of his vocals. “I went, ‘I can still hit the notes! With a funny face — most of the time.’”
Meat will also draw on his acting, but is coy about whether his roles in cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be part of his show.
Meat wants the audience to walk away thinking about how good of an actor he is.
“People know me from the rock side, they don’t know me from the acting side,” he said. “So, there is a section in the piece where you get to see some crazy stuff from the film side. There’s some funny stuff on the film side and some real serious stuff.”
Meat reminisced about meeting novelist Arthur Miller on the set of “Focus,” a film rendition of Miller’s book, on the day of Meat’s big scene.
“I was like, freaking out,” Meat said. “He passed me by during lunch and put his hand on my shoulder and leaned over and said, ‘I like what you’re doing with my character.’ And I just about fainted dead away.
“On the film side, you hear people always go, I can never watch myself on film. That’s because they’re playing themselves. I can watch anything, because I don’t see me. I’m gone.”
Instead of a grand entrance in this RockTellz residency, Meat plans on starting his show building tension during the first several minutes.
“I never just start,” Meat said. “Trust me. It never just starts. I’m not one, like all of a sudden, the lights come up and you make this big entrance and the audience yells and screams. I build tension. I make the audience nervous.
“I like them to go, ‘What’s going on? What do you think it is?’ I’m slipping into character now. ‘Ruth, what do you think is going on?’ ‘I don’t know, Bill.’ So, I like this tension. I like to build this tension. And people go, ‘Don’t you think that’s too long?’ Not a prayer. No. The longer that I make them sit in the dark, the better it is.”
Meat said his show has “all kinds of crazy, funny things going on in this thing.”
“On paper, it is unbelievable. So now we’ve got to get it off the paper and on the stage and out there.”
Meat Loaf performs 18 shows between Sept. 26 and Nov. 5 at the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood.