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KINGDOM OF I: Lauren Harris Discusses Her Exciting New Musical Path!

KINGDOM OF I: Lauren Harris Discusses Her Exciting New Musical Path!

lauren harris

From the moment, London, England born Lauren Harris took her very first steps backstage at the world famous Budokan Arena in Tokyo, Japan, she was destined to be an entertainer. Eldest daughter of Steve Harris, the world famous, award winning bassist and founding member of legendary Iron Maiden, Lauren has literally grown up with music and entertainment constantly around her, and embodied with a world-travelled knowledge hewn from legendary rock music ancestry, it was not long before Lauren followed her natural instincts.

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris

At the tender age of 17, Lauren quietly started singing at an early age in London pubs and one night she grabbed the attention of legendary British producer, artist and writer Russ Ballard (Roger Daltrey, Hot Chocolate, America, Elkie Brookes, John Waite). Ballard asked her to sing a demo for new material he was writing and this led Lauren to work with Multi-Grammy award winning writer/producer Tom McWilliams (Paulina Rubio, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada), and within just a few months, Lauren was touring Europe, playing in front of 50,000 + people a night. After proving herself during an in intensive 12 months of touring, Lauren was presented her biggest and most daunting challenge yet – supporting Iron Maiden on their world tour. Taking on the challenge of being a female in a man’s world, she proved all the detractors and naysayers wrong, mesmerizing packed houses in the biggest stadiums around the world. During this tour, Lauren went down in history as the first ever woman ever to front a rock band at a major concert in India. In October of 2006, Lauren’s life came full circle as she walked out in front of 20,000 people at the Budokan Arena in Japan, the very same venue where she took her first ever steps. When the tour concluded, Lauren released her debut album entitled “Calm before the Storm”, which was mixed by the legendary Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden), and continued to tour the UK and Europe in support of the release. In a short few years Lauren had gone from performing in pubs to playing to over a million people in over 50 countries, but rather than being the end of a success story, this was just the beginning of a what is turning into a true fairy tale.

Never happy to rest on her laurels, Lauren began working with legendary Vocal coach David Grant (Diana Ross, Linx, Rick Astley and Jaki Graham), who also worked with Will Young, Spice Girls, Charlotte Church and many others as vocal coach on the UK hit TV show Pop Idol. This lead her to opening the next chapter of her musical career by recording her next project “Six Hour Sundown”. With a contemporary style that further enhance Lauren’s vocal ability, the band spent 2011 and 2012 touring, again exposing Lauren to hundreds of thousands more fans around Europe and the UK.

Lauren Harris Rocks!

Lauren Harris Rocks!

Whilst all of this groundwork had given Lauren the experience, mentoring, and opportunities that most artists can only dream of, the tipping point in Lauren’s career came when spending time in Los Angeles in 2012, she met seasoned manager Andre Recke (Hilary Duff, R5, Nikka Costa), one of the few music managers that understands how to combine acting and musical careers. After discussing her plan to explore a more mainstream musical career, incorporating theatrical elements, whilst also pursuing acting roles, a definitive plan was put into place and Lauren relocated to Los Angeles in late 2012.

Since moving to the City of Angels, Lauren has been working non-stop, and the first product to see the light of day from the transatlantic migration is a new musical project named “Kingdom Of I”. With tunes written by prolific song writer and famed producer Dave Stewart (Eurhythmics, Platinum Weird), Kara DioGuardi (Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Kylie Minogue) and American Idol judge for season 8 and 9, and John Shanks (Westlife, Take That, Bon Jovi), the irresistibly catchy tracks were recorded and produced by Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Artic Monkeys). The first single and video from Kingdom Of I, is an up tempo song entitled “Crying at the Disco”, which fuses rock hooks, with dance and catchy pop — an irresistible introduction to the fantastical and theatrical experience that is Kingdom Of I.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Lauren Harris to discuss her musical roots, the creation of Kingdom of I, the process of creating her forthcoming album and much more!

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris

As many of our readers probably know, you are from a very musical family. I was curious to hear about some of your earliest musical memories and growing up as the daughter of a rock star.

I remember traveling a hell of a lot. We used to go out on the road with my Dad all the time! Every summer holiday or break we had from school, we were always out with him. We saw so many places as kids! Even when we would go back later on, my Dad would be like “Oh yeah, we went to that city but you were two years old and probably don’t remember it.” We got to see a lot. We used to travel by bus. My Dad had his own bus for his family. It was so much fun. I used to take my homework on the bus with me and watch movies. It was quite a big adventure when I was a kid!

What were some of musical influences that had an impact on you early on?

My Dad used to listen to a lot of classic rock, so he introduced me to bands like Heart, Free and Yes. That is where the classic rock interest came from. As I grew older, I started getting more and more into 80s stuff like Belinda Carlisle, Alisha’s Attic and some rock fare. I grew up listening to classic rock, got into the 80s stuff and my favorite bands now are Foo Fighters, Muse, Prince and Fleetwood Mac. I still love all the classics as well, such as Led Zeppelin. I could go on and on and on! [laughs]

What made you take the plunge and pursue music as a career and was being in the shadow of your famous father ever intimidating?

Yeah, it was. I always sang as a kid. I loved to sing! I would drive my sisters and my brothers mad singing around the house but at the time, I never really thought of it as a career path to be honest. I started singing in pubs with a friend of mine when I was about seventeen. I got spotted in the pub by Russ Ballard. I went on to do a demo tape for him and that progressed to some other people finding out about me. That is where the producers became involved with my first album with Tommy McWilliams as a producer. So yeah, it was totally intimidating to follow in my father’s footsteps and have people look at negatives. It was a bit of a double edged sword to be honest. It is where I grew up and where I came from, so I just wanted to give it my best shot and enjoy it really!

Kingdom of I

Kingdom of I

What can you tell us about your musical progression from your earlier work to your latest project, Kingdom of I?

I think I have progressed quite a lot. It is something that happened pretty organically from just being around the guys in the guys in the band before. It went from a really, really classic rock feel, which is what I have always grown up with and has been one of my major influences, but it has progressed to a bit more of a current sound. I guess that is a result of me listening to more current pop music. Also, the guys around me in the band were really classic rock influenced as well. Like with Richie [Faulkner] for example, he is playing naturally suited that type of music. It was kind of organic in that sense. When those guys left and we started writing again, I just chose to go in more in the route that I wanted to which was to drop a bit of that sound and have it a bit more current.

As we mentioned, Kingdom of I is the name of your latest project. How did you go about choosing the name and what does it mean to you personally?

My manager, Andre Recke (Hilary Duff, R5, Nikka Costa), and I were sitting around talking about band names. For my last band, Six Hour Sundown, we took weeks and weeks going over names. We created long lists of names and whittled them and tested them with people to see which ones they liked. With this one, it came around pretty quickly because it was such a strong name. There were several elements involved like me being English, my heritage, the fact I have always been interested in fantasy stuff like ‘Game of Thrones’ and the monarchy with the kings and queens. We picked out words around that subject. Kingdom was such a strong word. Then we thought “Kingdom of… something!” Then we came up with Kingdom of I. I have had a lot of people, fans and industry people, saying a lot of things to me like “You should be this. You should be that.” I thought, “You know what? I am going to do what I want to do. This is going to be my Kingdom of I.” I think everybody should have a Kingdom of I. To me it means it is your thing. It is what you are interested in and what inspires you as a person. I hope that everyone who listens to the band or appreciates the name can have that connection to themselves.

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris

Did you have any particular goals or expectations as you entered into the creative process for Kingdom of I?

The songs came about because I was speaking to my manager and I had a load of writing sessions with people over her in Los Angeles. It went really, really well but something was just o connecting for me. He said “Ok. What about these songs that I have?” There was an entire album of songs that had not been used by anybody. The songs had been written by Dave Stewart (Eurhythmics, Platinum Weird), Kara DioGuardi (Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Kylie Minogue) and John Shanks (Westlife, Take That, Bon Jovi). I went through and listened to them. I knew I had to do these songs because I connected with them straight away! It was totally the sound I was thinking of and going for. When I got into the studio with Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Arctic Monkeys, Jimmy Eat World, No Doubt), he rearranged some of the bits and pieces. It was a perfect match for me and he was so brilliant! I also worked in the studio with Tom Fletcher and he mixed a track as well, which was awesome! To work with those two people, it wasn’t too pushed. It wasn’t like “What sound we sound like? What should we do?” It just kind of happened and that is what came out. We loved doing it!

You have already released a single, “Crying at the Disco,” but where are you in the process of bringing the album to life?

We are still in the process of finishing some songs, writing and recording, which is really exciting. I am really looking forward to finishing it off. We are hopefully going to get some shows in there as well! I just want to get out and play, so badly! [laughs] I can’t wait to get out and play! It is all coming together and hopefully we will have a release date after the first of the new year.

What can people expect sonically from you with this release?

They can expect the same vibe as “Crying at the Disco.” It has that type of feel. There are some ballads on there and some high tempo stuff. It is really about me connecting to people and really wanting to tell stories. I like singing songs that actually mean something to me and that I feel people can relate to. That is why I loved “Crying at the Disco” because I think everybody has been in that position at one point or another during their lifetime. That for me is the main goal, to be able to connect with people so they can listen to the song and have it lift them up, help them through something or they can just have fun to it. That is what people can expect from the entire album.

Obviously, as we mentioned, you have worked with some great songwriting talent. I am sure you have picked up quite a few things from your time with them. Is there a particular process you use when it comes to creating your own songs?

I have a lyric book and I tend to write down a lot of ideas in that. I carry that around with me most places. I usually write with someone. Before, when Richie was in the band, I wrote with him. He would write the music, as I can’t play guitar very well. We would work together to flesh out the melodies and lyrics. It is a similar process with the newer stuff as well. I have ideas and I sit down and work with someone. We go back and forth. It is really important when you write with somebody that you have a good rapport with them and a good relationship, otherwise it doesn’t work. I have been really lucky to have worked with really good people who I have a great connection with.

kingdom-of-i-2013-2

I am sure working with another creative person can right bring a song to a whole new level!

Totally! Their creativity really rubs off on you and hopefully you rub off on them in a positive way as well. It is a great process to be a part of.

How has the transition of moving to Los Angeles impacted you as an artist?

I just love LA! I think it is full of inspiration and amazing people. I love England too, don’t get me wrong. There is such openness here where in my home country I get a lot of the whole nepotism thing. Over here it is not such a big deal with my father being who he is. Even using that and being on tours with him and such is not viewed as such a negative here. People are really interested and think it is a really amazing thing which I’ve done. In England, and it doesn’t apply to everyone, but a lot of people don’t like the fact that I did that and have said negative things about it. That is find but I find people are more open over here and that has been really, really nice. I just love this city. I think it is full of inspiration and is full of so many people who love music and being creative. It is really nice to be around those people.

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris

The process of putting together an album can be very intense at times. What do you feel you have learned about yourself as a result?

I think I have really learned to let go of other people’s opinions and really focus on what I love and what I want to create. That has been the main thing for me. In the past, as I’ve said, there were a lot of comments made with negativity and nepotism. There was a period when it really did get me down. I looked at it a couple of times and thought “This is horrible! People can be so nasty! Why do they write these things?” After that moment, I swore to myself I would never look at that stuff again because it is just not good for you. It is not good for how I feel and it takes me out of what I love as well. Everyone has got an opinion but the main person you have to listen to is yourself. I think I have really started to do that and started to trust myself. I also try to surround myself with people who don’t think in a negative way. It is all about being positive.

Absolutely. Anything I find to be very inspiring about you is that you aren’t limiting yourself to only music. I had read you were pursuing acting studies as well. What can you tell us about that aspect of your career?

Yeah! I studied theater in school when I was younger. It was something I was always interested in. Being over here in Los Angeles, which is the acting capital of the world, I thought I would go along and take some acting classes. Originally, I was just doing it to make some friends in the area because I didn’t know a lot of people here other than my manager and producer. They are busy 24/7, so the main thing was to meet people and have a bit of fun. I went to study with Howard Fine and I just feel in love with it. I totally love this and it is something I could do in addition to music. It really felt like a new life, if you’d like. I would love to both and there are a lot of people who do so hopefully, one day! [laughs] I do have some prospects but I don’t know how much I am aloud to say about them at the moment. There is a cinematographer in England named Robert Dowling and there are a couple of things in line with him. However, that is all I am allowed to saw at the minute.

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris

What do you consider the biggest milestone in your career to date?

One of the toughest things for me was playing in front of my family for the first time. That was at a really, really small gig in my home town at a place called The Square. That was probably one of the scariest performances I have ever done. I think it is easier to play to a crowd when you don’t know anybody but when you have your friends and family there watching you it is ten million times harder! I actually find playing small gigs harder as well because it is more intimate. I don’t know if that is the right way around! I just kind of got thrown into playing on a big stage and it is how I learned all my tricks and skills.

Growing up the way you did, I am sure you had the opportunity to rub elbows with many knowledgeable people in the industry. What is the best piece of advice someone has given you along the way in regard to your career?

That is a really good question. The best advice probably from my Dad to be honest. He watched me play every single night and would always be a really positive person in the room as well. There were times when I would get really down about things because we were a bit of a rock/pop band or a classic rock band that was playing to a metal audience. At that time, I felt it was extremely difficult. I just wanted people to like me but I got loads of middle fingers and shouting out things. I mean, we had amazing performances as well but I just felt like it wasn’t the best fit at the time. He told me to completely ignore everybody else. He would say “Maiden got slagged off in the early days.” There was this one writer who absolutely hated them. My Dad said “You can’t focus on all the crap. It is just rubbish. Just believe in yourself.” Like I said earlier, that is the most important thing — belief in yourself.

Anything you would like to say to the people before I let you go?

I hope people will check out Kingdom of I and like the track, “Crying at the Disco,” as well. We are going to do a video and hopefully it will be done before Christmas.

We will keep spreading the word for you, Lauren. Thanks so much for all of your time today!

Thanks so much, Jason. It is really nice to talk to you!

Keep up on all the latest news and dates for Lauren Harris and Kingdom of I, visit her official Facebook page at facebook.com/LaurenHarrisOfficial. Connect with her on Twitter at twitter.com/koirockband.

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Syd Duran of Valora Discusses The Band’s Highly Anticipated Debut Album!

Syd Duran of Valora Discusses The Band’s Highly Anticipated Debut Album!

It is no secret that rock music has been in dire need of transfusion of new creative blood for years now. Luckily, frontwoman Syd Duran and her bandmates are about to breathe some life back into the scene. For their upcoming debut album, “I Waited for You,” was produced by Grammy-nominated Johnny K (Disturbed, Finger 11) and mixed by Neil Avron (Fallout Boy, Linkin Park.) Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, Syd sings with fearsome conviction, summoning all the just powers of rock into her three-octave range. But Syd is about more than technique or stage presence. She has stories to tell: stories about isolation and betrayal, of misbegotten love and life out of whack. As the album shows, her rock vocal chops would mean nothing if Syd didn’t sing from the heart. It’s simple and raw – no horns, no synths, no auto-tuned perfection. Valora’s passion, soul and dedication to their craft is something that has turned the heads of industry insiders, music critics and won them legions of fans. However, at the end of the day, it is the band’s unique and powerful sound that has quickly established then as one of the top band’s to watch in 2012! Icon Vs. Icon recently took part in a Q&A with Syd Duran to gain some insight on the origins of Valora, the making of  “I Waited for You,” and what fans can look forward to in the months to come. 

Syd Duran of Valora

What are your first memories of music in your life?

I was raised in the church, and grew up listening to a lot of gospel singers. As a kid, I remember listening to Yolanda Adams while completing my chores.

What made you pursue music as a career instead of going a s different route?

Singing was the only thing I truly loved to do. For as long as I can remember, music was more than hobby, but a lifestyle for me.

Who would you cite as your biggest influences as an artist?

Jack White.

For those who may not be familiar with the band. How did Valora come about originally?

I started the band in 2008. Our current single “I Waited For You” was already written, and I was ready to get it out there for the world to hear. I searched for other musicians who were as committed to music as I was, and we began performing anywhere that would have us.

What is the meaning behind the band’s name, Valora?

Essentially it means “valor.” With that comes strength and empowerment, which are all things I have tried to incorporate in the writing of Valora music.

What can you tell us about your typical writing process?

There’s nothing typical about it. I have to have an open mind when I’m getting ready to write a song. I love collaborations as well as writing on my own with acoustic guitar. It really depends on the personalities and preferences of the group of songwriters you are working with. Sometimes we have a semi-produced track that we sit down and write to. Other times we start compeletly from scratch.

You wrote some songs with Kara DioGuardi. What did you learn during that process?

I learned that honesty is the key to heartfelt music.

You worked with Ahmet Zappa on a graphic novel. What can you tell us about it?

The album shaped the experience of creating the graphic novel. The stories and illustrations were inspired by the music.

Coming In April of 2012

As an artist, what was the biggest challenge in putting the album together?

I wrote over 100 songs for this album. The challenge was holding out for the best group of songs to put on the final track list.

You worked with Johnny K on the record. What did he bring to the table for a project like this?

Johnny really understands the importance of purity in music. What you hear on the recorded album is what you will hear during Valora’s live performance, particularly in regards to vocals.

The album’s release date will be here before you know it. How are the tour plans coming along and is that something your are looking forward to?

Touring is the best part! I can’t wait to get on the road and begin really promoting the album!

What do you hope people come away with after seeing your live show?

My goal is to take them to a place they weren’t expecting to go. I don’t hold back anything in my live performance, and my intention is to overwhelm the audience with an outrageous performance, submerging them in Valora’s world for as long as we are on the stage.

You were featured in Revolver Magazine as part of their ‘Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock’. That is a pretty big honor. Do you feel that has had any impact on the band’s growth?

Absolutely! I am so thankful to Revolver Magazine for giving me the opportunity to stand alongside legendary frontwomen like Amy Lee.

Syd Duran

This debut album has been a long time in the making and is shaping up to be very impressive. What is the biggest thing you have you learned about yourself long the way?

I learned that public speaking (interviews) doesn’t have to be a scary, dreadful thing. The more I do it, the more I like it!

What is the best piece of advice that you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?

I believe the songs are still the most important factor in setting you apart from everyone else crowding up the music industry. If you have a great song, you have a chance.

In your opinion, what does the future hold for Valora? Both long term and short?

As the front woman of Valora, and as an individual, I’ve seen and experienced… A LOT. Some days are great, and others, seriously unfortunate. I can confidently say that nothing will hinder Valora’s constant creation of new music. The future looks bright and promising.

To learn more about Valora, check out their official website at www.valoraofficial.com. To stay in contact, like their official Facebook page and follow them on follow them on Twitter.

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Rock Legend Meat Loaf Discusses ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’

Rock Legend Meat Loaf Discusses ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’

Meat Loaf is a man who needs little introduction. With more than three decades in the limelight, no one embodies the spirit of rock n’ roll quite like him. This jack-of-all-trades has run the gamut from iconic rocker, to Hollywood actor, to television gameshow host and back again. He exploded onto the music scene 1977 with his legendary album Bat out of Hell, an epic album that captured the hearts a generation and went on to sell more than 40 million copies. Outlasting most of his peers and continuing to expand his musical legacy, Meat Loaf shows no signs of slowing down. Paired with producer Rob Cavallo, who has produced artists such as Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls and My Chemical Romance, this rock legend has just unleashed a powerful new album and stands ready to take the world by storm. At it’s core, Hang Cool Teddy Bear (a title taken from a line in Russ Meyer’s cult classic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls) is a concept album that brings all the elements of the classic Meat Loaf sound that we know and love into the 21st century. The album features cameos from House star Hugh Laurie, Queen guitarist Brian May, actor/singer Jack Black and American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Meat Loaf to discuss his longevity, how he almost walked away from his music career after ‘Bat Out of Hell III, what made him change his mind and the process of creating his personal masterpiece!

You have been in the music game for well over three decades now. You have made some incredible albums and impacted so many people along the way. To what do you attribute your longevity?

I didn’t want to do anything else! [laughs] It really doesn’t seem like it has been that long. I just keep doing different things. I think truly it is the fact that I started out as an actor, way back, in high school. I decided that I wanted to go into acting class when I was in high school. Because I played football and I was in Texas, I was put down. I was teased and you can imagine in 1965 in Texas and being a football player in acting class, I don’t even need to tell you what they said! [laughs] And being in the musicals! Oh boy, oh boy! That was even worse! Then I went to college and started doing radio and was a DJ in college radio for a while. It was all about doing different things and wanting to vary. I definitely didn’t want to be just one thing. I love experimenting! For example, I hosted those Direct 101 game shows or I went on WWE recently. I absolutely love the experimentation. I don’t want to say that anything is ever to weird! [laughs] I just go! I don’t think of myself as a celebrity, so I don’t play that game. I think that is the other thing that has kept me around. I don’t play the game, it doesn’t interest me.

After you released ‘Bat Out of Hell III’ you almost walked away from music. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what changed your mind.

I am a fighter. ‘Bat Out of Hell III’, when I was promoting it, was something that I had to go out and talk about in a positive way but it was really difficult to talk about that record in a positive way. I will give you a good example and I guarantee you it happens all the time. You go out and start trying to promote a record and talk about it in a positive way, but in the back of your mind you sit here and you are saying “Ok, I have to forget about that song or this song and just deal with this particular group of songs…” and people can tell that your heart isn’t in it. That was a tough sell. It was even tougher on the road. The band wanted to play a particular song and I hated it! I eventually had to take it out of the show. I didn’t want it on the record and I didn’t want any part of it. They just pushed me to far and I eventually got a cyst on my vocal chords. The whole thing was negative and I was ready to call it a day but I couldn’t go out on that record. If I have to go out and I go out with the new album, ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’, then so be it. This record is phenomenal! If you were going to call something ‘Bat Out of Hell IV’, this would be it. I wouldn’t do it but if this was “it”, this would be it. There is not a single moment on this record that I don’t cherish.

For those who may not yet be familiar with ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’, what can you tell us about the concept of the record?

The concept came from a screenplay from Killian Kerwin. It was originally about a guy who was dying and his life was flashing forward. It was that simple. It’s not that far removed from the TV show ‘Fringe’, ya know, what this guys life could be. So, we adapted it to be a solider in a non-specific war because of the time structure element. He is 24 years old in the short story and we know that nine years before that he had left home to see Elvis, so obviously you do the math and realize that there wasn’t a whole lot going on then, so it is a non-specific war. He sees the same girl everywhere he goes but she is really ten different women with the same face. Really, it is what keeps him alive. Every song is sung from that characters perspective, Patrick, who is 24. That was a really different exercise in character development than I would say most actors have ever had to go through. When you play younger, it is more difficult than playing your same age or even older. I was playing younger and I didn’t want to give it away that anything involved me, because I just don’t do that.

Meat Loaf

So, was that the biggest challenge in making this record?

Yes. That was definitely the biggest challenge. Finding that character who is 24 and not knowing anything that I know. I had to go back to that place where I was that age and didn’t know anything else. The other challenge was projecting him into those scenarios and situations. His character is a bit of a scoundrel. Not nesscarily a “Natural Born Killer”, like the Woody Harrelson film, but they will steal Twinkies from the 7-Eleven! [laughs] And he will do it with his pretty girlfriend! That type of scoundrel! They would steal more than Twinkies but he isn’t a bank robber or a killer. They are outlaws or gypsies, more or less. That is where he came from. Now, the next hardest thing was creating this story without telling anyone what the story was about. That is exactly what we did. Everyone that we got together was part of the “Rob Cavallo/Meatloaf Camp’. It was our equivalent of summer camp! There was basketball and food. In fact, the only thing that we didn’t do was roast marshmallows! [laughs]

Where is the “Hang Cool Teddy Bear” title come from?

Well, the title came to me in an interesting way. Each day in the studio, they put movies on as wallpaper and the closed captioning is on. Jamie Muhoberac [Keyboardist] has the most unique movie collection, to say the least. One day he had Russ Meyers’ Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ playing, which I’ve never seen in my life. Actually, I still don’t know what it’s about! At one point, I looked up and there’s a party scene. All of a sudden the girl gets mad and starts to leave the room. A guy grabs her, starts to spin her around and says, “Just hang cool teddy bear.” Immediately I said, “That’s it! That’s the name of the record!”

You worked with producer Rob Cavallo on the album. What sets him apart from the big name producers that you worked with in the past?

The other producers all want to put their ego in! I am not talking about Jim Steinman. Steinman and I, that was a collaboration. If we every work together again, that is what it would be. There is give and take, it is a relationship. The great thing about when I work with Steinman is that we basically agree, I would say, 90 percent of the time artistically. It is that 10 percent, where someone has to give and take. So, I am not referring to him because that is the dynamic of that relationship. Every other producer always says “My name is on this record too.” To me, Rob Cavallo is the best because he says “I’m not making a Rob Cavallo record. I’m making a Meat Loaf record!” I have heard from all kinds of people that Dave Matthews and the guys from Green Day have said the same thing about Rob. The artists that he has worked with all say the same thing. He makes the record for that artist. There is a Rob Cavallo trademark to it. He is a rock n’ roll producer but that is it. It’s not like Phil Spector, who had that Spector sound where it was interjecting his ego. The only other producer that I have worked with that I didn’t see interject his ego was George Martin, who worked with the Beatles. For me, George Martin and Rob Cavallo are the two best producers that ever lived.

In addition to the great production. The album features some stellar guest appearances such as Brian May and Steve Vai…

Yeah, but they are my friends! [laughs] Brian May called up one day and wanted to see what we were doing and he wanted to bring his daughter out. It is that simple. We don’t call up people’s agents and say “We want to know if so and so can do this.” These people are friends. We send them emails and say “Jack (Black), I’ve got this song that I think you and I will sound great on. I’ll send it to you and you can tell me what you think.” I will get an email back that says “Yeah! I am doing a movie right now but we can do it when I get back.” And then you wait. It is all emails between acquaintances and friends. It’s that easy! It goes back to what I said earlier. Celebrity, I don’t play that game. It’s not about a celebrity. If you know me and review my history, you will see that on “Anything For Love”, we used a complete unknown out of New Castle, England of all places, when the record company was screaming at us “We have this person to do it. We have this person lined up. We need these names on here!” Meanwhile, I am going “No! No, no, no, no no! This girl is the definitive one! This is who we are going to use, so everyone just back off!” So again, I don’t play that game.

You have referred to this album as “your most important”. Can you tell us about that and what does this album mean to you?

Why I say that is because like Rob Cavallo said “I am making a Meat Loaf record.” No one has ever said that before. What you see is how I think. Anyone that might write that the songs aren’t there — they haven’t listened to the album and they know nothing about character development. If you went to real writers and said to Bruce Springsteen, Sting or Don Henley “break these songs down”. They are going to comeback and say “Yeah, we get it! These are very well crafted pieces.” I am emotionally tied to this record, more than any other record. That is what makes it the most important to me.

It is exciting to see that your fire and passion for music has been renewed.

Thank you! First of all, I think that it is an important record for the time period. It is a real album, it had a lot of thought go into it, it is well crafted, it is well played, it is unbelievably produced and it is unbelievably mixed by Chris Lord-Alge. Every word on this album was scrutinized as far as “Is it the right way to make the character talk or speak?” The lines of the songs are so precise. Ya know what? If some of these “critic darling” bands had done this record, it would have been the second coming!

What do you have in store for your fans when you hit the road on the upcoming tour?

You’re not going to ask me that! [laughs] What, I ‘m going to tell ya that we live camels and I’m going to do a disappearing act and I will be eaten by a lion?! [laughs] Anybody that knows the Meat Loaf knows that you are going to get an energetic, fast-paced, high energy performance by some of the best musicians ever to walk on the stage! I am not kidding! We put in a twenty six year old piano player named Justin Avery and have never seen anything like him. He has left musicians of incredible caliber with their mouths hanging open. He is going to leave people in awe of what he does. So you can expect a full show and we won’t be coming out doing a mellow ballad acoustic set, I can tell ya that! [laughs]

It seems safe to say that you won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon and we can even expect more music from you in the future. Anything that you would like to tell your fans before we let you go?

Yes. There isn’t a single thing that I would change on ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’. If you are a rock n’ roll fan, you owe yourself a listen to this record!

Thanks for your time. We love the album and will be spreading the word!

Thank You!

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For all the latest news and tour dates for Meat Loaf, be sure to swing by his official website located at www.meatloaf.net.

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