Paul Crook (Meat Loaf guitarist) talks to Rock Overdose
For the talented and always extravagant (in a good way) Meat Loaf, there are not many thing to need be said. He is one of the musicians that have a big chapter in the book or rock history and he is one a person that worked really hard and went through a lot of difficulties to be where they are now. But he could not do all these if he didn’t have the help of his colleagues. Of them is Paul Crook, the guitarist of Neverland Express (Meat Loaf’s band) since 2003.
Rock Overdose and Apostolos Pantazoglou, had the chance to talk with the guitarist who has also worked with Anthrax, Sebastian Bach, Glenn Hughes and Brian May among others.
Rockoverdose.gr: Hello Paul and welcome to Rock Overdose.
Crook: Thank you.
Rockoverdose.gr: Let’s start with the latest Meat Loaf album, “Hell In A Handbasket”. Could you tell us a couple of things about it?
Crook: I Produced and engineered the album. John Miceli (drummer) has additional engineering.. He recorded the drums in his home studio. It was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge
It's the first album that Meat Loaf has ever done with his entire band (The Neverland Express).
It's the first album where Meat Loaf hasn't taken on a character persona. He's approached the album as if he's singing directly to the listener.
Rockoverdose.gr: Rock, country, rap. How did you combine all these genres (referring to the guests of the album John Rich, Trace Adkins, Lil Jon, Chuck D και Mark McGrath)?
Crook: It's amazing how things can quickly turn country cool just by adding a killer voice and a greasy fiddle.
Rap... That was a bit of a challenge. We basically had to approach things as a mashup. Meaning, two separate songs mashed together but all-the-while not ever over thinking things.
Rockoverdose.gr: You produced the new album. Is it easy to be the guitarist and the producer of Meat Loaf?
Crook: Easy? Not sure what goes on in my head. I don't seem to have a problem doing things this way. Things just happen like an on / off switch... It really comes down to paying close attention to Meat. I listen.
Rockoverdose.gr: Let’s go about 17 years ago when you joined Anthrax. You were Dan Spitz’s guitar tech right?
Crook: Correct... The transition took place during the STOMP 442 sessions. I don't want to speak of Danny in a dim light. Let's just say that they asked me to play some solos then it turned into a tour, another record (which I co-produced / engineered), another set tours.
Rockoverdose.gr: How was it being a part of this band, which was in Big 4 and releasing two albums with them?
Crook: It was great! I am still incredibly proud to have been a part of the Anthrax camp. They gave me an amazing shot. I wouldn't be where I am now without those guys. I love them very much.
Rockoverdose.gr: Could you tell us why you parted ways something which turned out to be good watching your career?
Crook: It was money. I wanted more than they were willing to give. It's that simple.
Rockoverdose.gr: After Anthrax, you joined Sebastian Bach in 1999 for about five years. How did that happen?
Crook: Bas called me... I still remember the conversation. It went something like this:
BAS: Hey Crook!
ME: Hi Bas, it's 9am. What are you doing up so early?
BAS: I got kids dude.
ME: What's up?
BAS: You wanna join my band?
BAS: Can you get here at noon?
ME: See you in a few hours.
Anyway, he's a good friend of mine. At that time we were only a 25 minute drive away from each other.
Rockoverdose.gr: In 2001 you recorded a song with Glenn Hughes. Could you tell us some things about it?
Crook: We have a mutual friend. His name is Ken Ciancimino. Ken got us together. Glenn was looking for some songs. I submitted two and he liked one. The song went on to become "Feels Like Home". I composed the music. Glenn wrote the lyric / melody.
I love Glenn. He is now (thanks to Ken) a very dear friend of mine. Man, I am so proud of that experience. Glenn is a legend and an incredible talent to say the least.
Rockoverdose.gr: So we reach 2003 and you join The Neverland Express. Did you expect it? Who is responsible for this?
Crook: It's all Pearl’s (Meat's daughter) doing. We met on the MAXIMUM ROCK TOUR in 2000. The bill was Motley Crue, Megadeth and Anthrax. Meat needed a guitarist and Pearl dropped my name. I'm sure that Scott Ian had a hand in it as well. They were dating at the time (they are married now).
I never thought I'd be sharing the stage with an icon like Meat Loaf. I still shake my head, especially when I see the early videos. I remember being a kid, looking at the “Bat Out Of Hell” album cover thinking it was the coolest thing.
Rockoverdose.gr: It must have been quite a change right? From clubs to huge arenas.
Crook: For the most part the gigs are insanely huge when Meat feels like going out with 5 trucks. Sometimes, like now, he chooses to do smaller runs (1 truck). Quick / easy moves... The man can play anywhere he wants.
The amenities are ridiculous. Private planes, 5 star hotels, and everything that comes with that kind of success/ money.
Rockoverdose.gr: How is Meat Loaf as a partner? You must know him pretty well after all these years.
Crook: I love working with Meat Loaf. So much, that I've turned down several other outside gigs. One gig even paid A LOT more. Anyway, we knock heads at times. Kinda like brothers do, which I think is great. We have no problem speaking with each other if something is bothering us.
Yes, I know him very well. I honestly feel that no one can record Meat Loaf better than me.
Rockoverdose.gr: In 2004 you auditioned for We Will Rock You and then you played for about 16 months with them. How was that experience?
Crook: Incredible! It made me a much better player. It was a live, rock and roll feel with a studio-head approach. An organized chaos if you will. We had to play f'n hard but all the while show restraint and control because of the choreography happening below us on the stage (the band was raised).
The best part of WWRY for me was being personally trained by Brian May. He showed me every string bend... Tears of joy just thinking about this experience.
Rockoverdose.gr: Anything else you would like to add?
Crook: I'd like to thank the fans for their love and support.