Born on the streets of Los Angeles where Sunset and Vine meet and crack is plentiful, [or so I’ve been told by Michael Starr], Steel Panther sounds more like a bottle of 100 proof whiskey than a rock n’ roll band, but herein lies the irony, Steel Panther is 100 proof and will get you just as f**ked up as if you downed the bottle yourself. Steel Panther is Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxx and Stix Zadinia. God must have wept when he made Steel Panther; those pretty boys with the chiseled looks and beautiful long flowing hair; Starr personifies a Valley guy for sure; I mean the dude exemplfies ‘pantherness’. They even sat down for an All You Can Eat buffet in Di Vinci’s famous iconic painting, The Last Supper, and according to lead vocalist, Michael Starr, Di Vinci’s painting just needed a little facelift. Who would think that this work of art, which depicts Christ with his disciples, needed anything? Well, Mel Brooks brought light to the painting in his movie, History of the World Part I, but what he didn’t bring was all the boobs and booze you could ever want. And that’s where Steel Panther enters the picture.
“Well, that idea was actually our drummer, Stix’s,” says a serene cool Starr. “We thought we’d get together with Fuse; we’re pretty close with Fuse and the girl from Fuse said, ‘I wanna see the stuff you didn’t use!’ So we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a spot on it’. We were thinking about, ‘Lets do something super-iconic’ and what we ended up going with was using the Last Supper. We thought we could make that painting way cooler than it already is. We did it; at least I think we did it.”
Steel Panther, a cult legend on the L.A. music scene, has been one of rock’s best-kept secrets for many years but that’s all changing now due to the success of their music and live shows, enjoying huge praise from fans and peers alike. Steel Panther has been joined on stage by rock n’ roll icons such as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Paul Stanley of KISS, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Green Day to name a few. Steel Panther has also been seen on Dancing with the Stars, Bad Girl’s Club and most recently in a national web campaign for Warner Brothers Pictures hit film, Rock Of Ages.
They encompass all that is considered “Rock n’ Roll” and depict it beautifully in their newest video; Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World. Their little opus begins with Starr shaking the Devil’s hand as the boys walk up to the mansion Starr lives in; and wonder why they all share a one bedroom while Starr lives like a king. When they’re told it’s the end of the world so get inside and party, Satchel and Stix draw out guns and want to kill Lexxi, who in return draws on them, but why? They’re all gonna die anyway but things did work out for the best. “Oh yeah… well you know, he is the dumbest guy in the band,” explains a very scholarly Starr. “So you gotta scare him and keep him in line. You know why they really want to kill him? When you’re that beautiful, it’s hard to be around somebody like that; it gets annoying because the guy; he wakes up pretty. I think Satchel wants to kill him first because he thinks if Lexxi’s gone he’ll be the cutest guy in the band but in actuality, it would be Stix, the drummer.” Poor Stix; so handsome—it’s a curse.
But truly the guys had a great time filming Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World, boasting a laundry list of guests who came out to be a part of the action ‘just because’ and were paid nothing to show up but that’s just the kind of guys Steel Panther are; everyone wants to party with them. The video was directed by and features an appearance by Rob Riggle; known for his work in films such as 21 Jump Street, The Other Guys and as a regular contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You can find cameos by some of Steel Panther’s closest celebrity friends including porn legend Ron Jeremy, former UFC champion Chuck Liddell, Jackass star Steve-O and Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte. Also spotted in the video are Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland, ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone, comedian Hal Sparks and a slew of beautiful women that only Steel Panther can party with. “Well what we did was we called everybody that we knew,” explains a happy Starr, “and liked to hang out with and tweeted direct messages to friends that come to the shows all the time. Not one person got paid to be in that video; they just did it to be a part of Steel Panther which is really awesome and we really thank them for it. The video was actually scheduled for a one day shoot and it ended up being the whole weekend. We filmed the first day and brought all this stuff to make it a party, which was supposed to be props and after we were done shooting we all did the props and we all hung out for a long time and it was fuckin’ awesome; it was so fun dude! I wish we could have filmed what happened the next day; that would have been a great video too. Me and Ron Jeremy were snorting blow off chick’s boobs; imagine that by 10!”
Ron Jeremy, porn, booze, chicks and rock n’ roll. No wonder Steel Panther is everyone’s favorite party band including the cast of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which is how the guys ended up on the show. “That’s interesting isn’t it?” says Starr with a little surprise in his voice. “I mean it’s so simple; after they’d shoot, they’d come to our shows on Mondays; they’d all come out; the dancers would come down to blow some steam off. Not the producers though, they’re like NFL coaches, they can’t show that side of themselves otherwise the talent goes crazy. But one day they said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come on down and do a song?’ We were like, ‘Alright lets do it! I mean playing Monday night and having so many guests come on stage to be part of the show, we’ve made a lot of relationships with people and that happened to be one we made and it turned out to be with people from a huge TV show and it was very cool.”
With all this talk of partying, chicks and living the life, the other attribute Steel Panther is also known for; their music. When the members of Steel Panther all sit down to write a song, where does their inspiration come from? “Well most of our inspirations for our songs and song titles come from our personal experiences,” states Starr. “You know I’m 40 years old and we’ve been around for a long time and done a lot of crazy shit. So some nights we’d sit down and reminisce about days in our 20s and usually they end up turning into songs.”
And while it is true that everyone writes from their own experiences, Steel Panther’s are a little more ‘special’. “Well yes and it’s really important that Steel Panther remains and organic band and nothing being forced,” continues Starr. “I feel people can see right through shit you just make up to be dramatic or what ever and I think that we keep it real; I mean fuck you know… you’ve been around as long as I have, right?” Thanks Michael; you ‘outted’ me, I’m as old as dirt. “Longer, am I correct?” he asks innocently. “We sing about shit that most bands…wouldn’t sing about. We just sing about shit that people think about anyway so I think its killer and its fun, that’s the cool thing about it.”
Steel Panther have definitely made a living off of being a parody of themselves and rock n’ roll from the ’80’s hair days of the Sunset Strip, but how does that translate to up and coming metal acts trying to take the world on and putting everything they have into it? These bands take it very seriously; they’re trying to make something happen for themselves in this niche of the entertainment industry; is this all play and no work for Steel Panther? Is there anything they take seriously? “Well the funny thing is Robyn, we started out doing our own music that we wanted to do and we could never get a deal,” states Starr with conviction. “Then Nirvana came out and it just fucked everything up for anyone who loved metal. A lot of the dudes we knew cut their hair and started playing alternative, Pearl Jam or what ever and we stayed the same just playing covers. We started making money doing that and we were having fun; we’d fuckin’ bring people on stage, make jokes and have a good time! And once we stopped taking what we did so fuckin’ serious and just had a good time, it translated into our music and I think that’s what drew that labels to us because we’re so different and we have fun. And man I would just say, have a fuckin’ good time and just enjoy yourself!”
“Rock didn’t stay in the pubic eye for a long time; I mean it did with me,” explains Starr, “but it kind of went away in a worldwide sense because of the movement in the early ’90’s with Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I feel that now we’re getting the spirit back and just having a good time. Now that I can look back twenty years and listen to Nirvana, I can appreciate what they did; musically it was killer they had great songs but they were anti metal. They blew up so big that anyone into metal, thought metal wasn’t cool anymore so they followed this grunge movement and it killed everything metal. And I hated Nirvana. It was almost as bad when I hated Sammy Hagar for replacing David Lee Roth.”
Starr takes a breath and continues, “Now, as the man I am today, I can appreciate what Sammy Hagar did because he’s fuckin’ amazing, but still, the point being that Nirvana was more of an introspective band where the lyrics were based on what was going on inside his head and his experiences with sadness and the reality of being fuckin’ mentally ill. Now that type of music is killer if you want to be depressed, but if you want to have a good time, party and fuck chicks, Steel Panther is your band for that.”
“Most bands that people are drawn to, usually are good time rock n’ roll bands,” exclaims Starr, “or at least in my experience. Look at Van Halen, they had fun; David Lee Roth was funny, sexy they put on a great show and are great musicians. That’s what Steel Panther wants to emulate.”
And fun these boys do have! To promote the release of the All You Can Eat artwork, Steel Panther enlisted the help of their friends from Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra. They brought the famous truck out give away free food to their fans for coming out to celebrate with them. “It was really cool man because when you give out free food, people come.” States Starr with amazement. “I mean that was the reason we did it; you know all you can eat so we called Grill ‘Em All, and told them to bring out the truck and start grillin’ burgers. We ended up with a lot of new friends who were street merchants and bums, which is pretty cool because they help pass the word along. But it was cool and it really blew up in a social media way, which is obviously very important in this day and age plus, Grill ‘Em All burgers are amazing–have you ever had one? They fuckin’ taste killer! They are really good and they kept one of our burgers, which is the Fat Girl Burger, it’s a triple cheese burger with extra cheese!” What? A triple cheese burger with extra cheese; how much is too much cheese? Well we’re talking about Steel Panther here so cheesy is the word of the day and they’re well worth it.
Steel Panther is very aware that without the fans they’d have nothing more to offer so making everyone feel special is important to them. Take their groupies for instance, they have a special place in the guys’ pants and hearts but it takes an unusual kind of girl to entice Steel Panther’s loins. “A Steel Panther groupie is called a ‘Fanther’,” explains Starr, “and that’s usually a chick who’s willing to put out and have a good time; do some blow, party and usually be a stripper.”
That’s a tall order but hey, this is Steel Panther. These dudes have seen a lot come and go yet they’re still here. In fact Starr met Satchel at the rock n’ roll Ralph’s on the Sunset Strip in ’81. “That’s what made me move out here,” enthuses Starr. “I was out here on vacation with my parents and we did the Hollywood Walk of Fame and all that. I went to Ralph’s to get some food and I ran into Satchel and that’s where I met him. We just stayed in contact and then I ended up moving’ out here and we’ve fuckin’ been together ever since.”
Even though Steel Panther are making a living entrenched in their music, do they have other ventures when not on the road? Starr didn’t elaborate on any of the other guys but for himself, there is nothing more but Steel Panther. “I fuckin’ love Steel Panther,” Starr says with strong conviction, “and if somebody said, ‘Hey! If you could be in any band, which one would you be in?’ I would say… Steel Panther. To me, us four together, we’re the fuckin’ best band out there so I’m stoked to be in this band and this is what I do 24/7.”
“I mean people call us all kinds of different things,” says Starr, “I hear it a lot that I look like Sebastian Bach and Vince Neil. It’s very flattering because these were dudes I looked up to when I was trying to make it so yeah I hear that shit all the time but I also hear I look like MeatLoaf too. It’s killer to hear that shit but you know sometimes people get it wrong, ‘Oh man you look just like Dee Snider!’ Well killer bro thanks! Anyone with long hair, you’ll look like them. But Robyn I have to tell you, back in the late ’90’s, I’d be on the plane flying to Vegas and people would say, ‘What’s up Bon Jovi? What’s up Twisted Sister,’ they were making fun of me and now they’re all, ‘Dude what’s up we totally love Steel Panther,” it’s totally different now; they’re all fat and have day jobs.”
“So I don’t care what they call us, call us Poison with a fat finger. It really doesn’t matter because individuals will interpret music any way they want to; that’s the cool thing about music it’s totally subjective. Some people will go, ‘Oh they’re totally cool I’ve never heard them before,’ or ‘I’ve seen this before it’s like Spinal Tap,’ it doesn’t fuckin’ matter. People have their own opinion and for Steel Panther it’s either people love us or they hate us. There’s no…I’ve never met someone who said, ‘Steel Panther, I kind of like them,’. They either say, ‘Fuck I love that band’ or ‘Fuck they suck,’ and that’s the kind of reaction we’re looking for man, we want people who are totally into us and people who totally hate us. And sure a Spinal Tap kind of movie would be cool to do but we’ll leave the movie making up to Metallica cause right now we’re just going to go out and rock the world.”
And rock the world is exactly what the band is getting ready to do as Starr shares his views of the earlier days and filling venues. “I would say that the UK was the first country to accept us in 2009,” states Starr, and ever since then, Germany now is really big for us, Australia is really big for us, Sweden, Finland and we went to Russia last month and that was just amazing; kids just fuckin’ dig Steel Panther over there it’s really cool but I would have to say that right now, we’re bigger in other parts of the world and Canada. The U.S. is slowly picking up right now because we’re just getting ready to do our tour in May and it’s almost sold out; we’re also doing places that hold 1500 to 3500 people so it’s pretty cool. We’ve worked really hard Robyn, to get where we’re at and the first thing our label told us when we got signed to Universal, if you guys don’t go to Europe right away when this comes out, you won’t be able to have a career out there so we went there right away and the label was right, we just blew up immediately and in Australia we did the exact same thing we went there for a thing called the Sound Waves Tour, where we played six or seven places and then we came back the next year and did our own headlining tour.
“We just went back there last year in December and we had Buckcherry opening up for us doing places like Universal Amphitheater; it just blew up its amazing. Our first show in London, we played at a place that only held 600 people but the cool thing about it was that we were booked at a place that held 300 people and it sold out immediately so they bumped us up to 600. The next time we went back they bumped us up to 1250 seats for two nights where as now when we play London it’s at a place called the Brixton Academy, which holds like 4900 people. ”
“We’re pretty much doing press the rest of April,” says Starr with a laid back quality to his voice, “then we do a run here and then off to Europe to do a bunch of festivals, and host the Golden God Awards. We’re doing the Download Festival and that’s like a hundred thousand people and we’re third from the top on the main stage so it’s Aerosmith, AlterBridge and Steel Panther. It’s gonna be amazing.”
Wow, what a ride it has been and is going to be; from being the best kept secret on the Strip to third billing under Aerosmith, Steel Panther is cooking up the best in eye and ear candy so take your seat at the table because today, we’re serving up All You Can Eat.