When Bat Out of Hell was released in October of 1977, it not only launched Meat Loaf as an international star, but it launched lyricist Jim Steinman as a bona fide rock poet. Selling over 43 million copies; the album still sells around 200,000 copies a year all these years later. Though creative differences brought the Meat Loaf/Steinman collaboration to as musical halt, according to newcomer Tyce, “Steinman always had intended his BOH songs to be sung by a blond and somewhat younger artist.”
Tyce, an avid fan from day one, first met Steinman at a benefit, where he performed “Bat Out Of Hell” – in its full 9-minute, 51-second rendering, in its original key no less. According to Tyce, “Steinman approached me that very night; with an offer re-record his BOH songs.” The album, Hero, is out now via Broadway Records (and, produced by Zak Lloyd) and has not only re- ignited Steinman-fans (his musical Bat Out Of Hell opens in the U. K. later this year), but Meat Loaf-enthusiasts who treasure the album’s songs. Tyce has become the first male-artist to record with Jim Steinman since Meat Loaf.
Also, it was just announced that Tyce will be opening for Air Supply, May 5 at The Saban Theatre in Los Angeles.
We caught up with 25-year old at SIR studios in Manhattan for a series of queries about the Hero album and Tyce himself:
Q. How did the Steinman connection begin?
A: In 2015, I had the pleasure of performing in a concert honoring Jim in NYC. I sang “Bat Out of Hell” and Jim sent me this wonderful email after, saying that he thought it was one of the most incredible performances he’s ever seen. Of course, I was floored, but there it began.
Q: How big of a fan were you of the original Bat Out of Hell album? What songs were your favorites?
A: I’m ashamed to say it, but being a young guy in my 20’s, I didn’t really know Jim’s material or the Bat Out of Hell album. I don’t mind saying it, though, because once I was introduced to Jim’s music, I had an IMMEDIATE connection and I really now believe that it’s part of my destiny to carry on Jim’s music. That said, I always loved “Heaven Can Wait,” and “Objects.” That track is probably (I hate to name just one), but probably my favorite song of Jim’s. I’m all about lyrics, and those are very close to me.
Q: Take us through the recording process of HERO.
A: Recording Hero was an incredible, difficult, amazing, beautiful, frustrating, and magical process. The actual recording in the studio was all so wonderful, and meeting Nick McDonald and Zak Lloyd was definitely the highlight of this entire project. The frustration came with fighting some early ‘producers’ who didn’t really get the essence of what we wanted to create, so Nick, Zak, and myself had to really band together to keep the integrity of the music and the project in- tact. Luckily we had Jim on our side, and even though Jim was in New York, we would Skype, email, and speakerphone him in the studio for consultation. That alone was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. And he’s tough, too. Anyone who listens to the album can hear every ounce of emotion from all of us… vocally and musically.
Q: The cover is based on “Objects…” is that true?
A: Julie, Boris, and our whole team had extensive conversations about the cover, of course. It centers on the entire story of the album, which starts with “Hero” and ends with “Braver Than We Are.” But really “Hero” is the end of the story, and the cover depicts what happens with Tyce, the “hero” standing victorious through the elements, staring into the face of the only remaining free-standing structure, a mirror unscathed; and he sees himself in his most vulnerable state. The female figure in the bottom right represents every female influence in his life — where he goes, she goes. The mother, the confidante, the lover, the sister — she appears in the form that he needs. As he stares into the mirror, as the victorious hero, he realizes “we always seem so much braver than we ever are” and “we always dream we’d seem braver, but we never are.”
Q: How did Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell come into the picture?
A: Our manager, Nick, was connected to them, and of course Jim had worked with them on Meat’s album Braver Than We Are. We knew they were the clear choice to literally paint the picture of the lyrics and the story we had to tell.
Q: Tell us about your background and how Broadway Records got involved?
A: I’ve been a member of the Broadway community for years, doing mostly pop/ rock style shows. It’s how I was invited to sing for Jim initially. And it’s funny to say that I’ve gone from Broadway to rock, but I grew up learning how to sing by listening to Heart. Broadway Records and Van Dean (president) was involved with the honoree concert for Jim, and he’s a huge Steinman fan. These days, so much doesn’t get done unless you do it yourself and having our team of people, we really helmed this as a solid team and Broadway Records was the perfect label to bridge the gap between my Broadway roots and the Steinman fans.
Q: Tell us about Zak Lloyd; his production is just outstanding.
A: This guy is a genius. All of the sounds, the nuances, the style, the arrangements, the very specific choices, it’s all Zak. And he and I have such an incredible dynamic. It’s pretty fantastic that this happened. In our live shows, he can play and throw me a dynamic off the cuff and I’ll hear it and change up the lyric, or I’ll take a little more time on a phrase or change up something and he’ll follow and add something of his own. There’s no music here without Zak.
Q: The elaborate booklet is wonderful; was an insert like that always planned?
A: Robbie Rozelle (of Broadway Records) did the design. The photos are by Emma Meade (the Emma Experience). Between the cover, the photos, and the music, I knew the physical representation of the album had to be an encompassing experience all around. From the second you unwrap the plastic and open the album, it’s a story all its own. That’s thanks to Robbie. And I think the fans appreciate having the album and booklet to appreciate as a separate piece of art from the music, too.
Q: I think to do this project with the blessing of Jim Steinman is just wonderful; what a great artist. Thoughts?
A: Yeah, I mean it wouldn’t have happened without Jim and his guidance. His notes on songs and nuances, and very specific adjustments helped shape the album into what it is.
Q: This album should do terrifically when the Bat Out of Hell play opens in the U.K. this summer. Will you be there for opening night?
A: I don’t have plans to be there, but I’ll say that I’d love to do the musical when it comes to the US. I tried very diligently to get into the West End production, but to no avail. So hopefully next time around I’ll be able to do it. It’s a great show, lots of very talented people, and I know it will do well.