Interviewing Meat Loaf is an intimidating prospect. The scary image of him as an overweight force of nature with long, sweat-drenched hair stuck to his forehead, singing one of his overblown ballads, looms large in my mind.
He's also got a reputation for being something of a motormouth, so the fear of not being able to get a question in while being subjected to a 30-minute-long rant about anything and everything is also hanging over me.
Before we're allowed to talk to the man, however, we're briefed by his press officer: Don't ask what he wouldn't do for love - a reference to his chart-topping single I'd Do Anything For Love... But I Won't Do That - and don't talk about Fight Club.
Oh the irony, considering not mentioning Fight Club is the first and second rule of the fictional organisation, but it's true; Meat Loaf apparently doesn't want to bring up the 1999 film in which he played Robert 'Bob' Paulson.
I'm then introduced to the man himself - "Call me Meat," he says in a friendly tone.
Within seconds, the aforementioned image of him is gone. Today, Meat, real name Michael Lee Aday - he changed his name to Michael from Marvin in 2001 - is dressed smartly in jeans, shirt and leather jacket, his short cropped hair slightly greying. And there isn't a bead of sweat in sight.
He's also a lot slimmer than anyone might expect, very healthy-looking in fact. You could be forgiven for walking past him in the street without a backward glance.
He does look tired though. He says his flight from America was tough and he's also under-taking a gruelling schedule of promotion and interviews. "I've never done this many inter-views and TV appearances before. It's nonstop."
Meat Loaf's here to promote his forthcoming tour.
"This time around, I don't know exactly where I'm playing," he explains, "but I know I'm playing Lisbon in Portugal for the first time, and a town in Germany with a great name, Gelsenkirchen.
"I've played so much in the UK, so I change the show all the time because people have seen it. I have to constantly make sure the show is different.
"Because I'm playing Lisbon for the first time ever, I don't know what to do there. Which show should I do for them? It's a quandary."
In the late 60s, after the death of his mother, Meat Loaf moved to California where he fronted various bands, including Meat Loaf Soul, and performed in a number of stage musicals, such as Hair, More Than You Deserve and The Rocky Horror Show. (He was also cast in the 1975 film adaptation.)
It was during auditions for More Than You Deserve that Meat met future collaborator and friend Jim Steinman.
As he was working in The Rocky Horror Show, they began writing what would become Bat Out Of Hell, but didn't start taking it seriously until around 1974 when Meat quit theatre and concentrated solely on making music.
The album, eventually released in 1977, made an international star of Meat Loaf and went on to sell an estimated 37 million copies around the world. It still shifts around 200,000 copies a year.
"You know, that album connected pretty much everywhere," says Meat, proudly. "Although it did nothing in Japan. I think we sold about 12 of the 37 million copies over there! You'd think I'd have done well there, I was the size of a sumo wrestler back then."
He continues: "I think my music connects with people because it's about life. Some reviewers say my music is about overblown lyrics and theatrics, but I heartily disagree. I don't think it's any more overblown or outlandish than, say, Bruce Springsteen's.
"If you think of Springsteen in black and white, then think of me in colour. Both music deals with the same things, and both writers, [Meat Loaf's main songwriter] Jim Steinman and Springsteen are both very poetic. Jim is just more flowery."
He says the millions of people who buy his records or concert tickets do so because they need a bit of escapism.
"People get enough politics and news in their lives. They don't want to think about it when they go out to a concert, they want to be entertained.
"The same goes for movies. Why do you think Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings are the biggest films of all time? The world wants to see them because they are about escape, and it's the same for the audience when they come to my show."
Seeing Meat Loaf on stage, you could easily believe he's one of the most confident people going, but believe it or not, he's extremely shy in person and dislikes being in a crowd.
"I even get nervous going on an elevator in a big group of people. I just love being on stage in front of people, it's like being a court jester."
Such a statement is at odds with what happened during Meat's last UK tour.
Last November, while on stage in Newcastle, he announced he was quitting performing live, and walked off the stage prematurely.
"I was totally freaked out and didn't know what was wrong with me," he says. "I wasn't sick, Ididn't have flu, no sinus infection or anything like that. I thought that was it, so I thought I'd go out on stage. I said 'I quit' and walked off.
"It turned out I had a cyst on my vocal cord. Thankfully it burst as I didn't want to have the surgery the doctors were planning.
"Now, I take care of my voice by not talking from the time I go off the stage one night to the time just before I go on again the next day.
"I care more about the people coming to see me than myself and whether I can chat to people," he adds.
He may have scared his fans with one retirement announcement already, but don't expect to hear another one from Meat any time soon.
"I'm not going to retire. To quote Jon Bon Jovi, I'll sleep when I'm dead."