by Keith Valcourt & Eric Althoff
The undisputed clown princes of Sunset Strip hair metal, Steel Panther, are back with their fifth filthy funny CD: “Heavy Metal Rules.” The collection of very NSFW hits includes songs titled: “Fuck Everybody” and “Sneaky Little Bitch.” In other words, it’s the perfect soundtrack for those who are fed up with the “PC Police.” In advance of the band’s Oct. 18 show at The Fillmore Silver Spring, we spoke with lead singer Michael Starr about one of our upcoming bachelor parties, the band’s evolution, and why you should absolutely bring a hot chick to the show.
In this time of #MeToo and political correctness, how do you guys get away putting out an album with songs like “You’re Always Gonna Be a Ho” and “All I Wanna Do Is F*ck (Myself) Tonight?”
Our brand speaks for itself. Over the years, we’ve never really cared about political correctness. I think that part of the appeal of Steel Panther is we don’t care about that world. We ignore political correctness. What we care about is being ourselves. This is who we are.
Five albums and 25 years together, how has the band evolved?
Our first show with the same dudes was 1995 in Vegas. Musically we evolved and grew from touring. Personally, we’ve evolved through fighting, punching each other, and quitting and rejoining. We actually hired a life coach who helps some big businesses. This was even before we put out our own albums. We were just doing the cover band thing. He came in and basically helped us to get along with each other.
Does the band’s guitarist Satchel still write all the songs?
He writes the songs, and he’ll demo them up. He will sing on them, play bass and guitar, and use a drum machine. Then he’ll send them to us, see if we like them. If we like them, then he sends them to me without any vocals, and I do my thing. Stix (Zadina) adds his drums and Lexxi (Foxx) his bass parts. Then we pretty much all go into the studio together. That’s what really creates the song. It kinda morphs into a different song once we all get our hands on it.
How do you decide what songs make the album?
Sometimes we hear a song and all know right away. Other times, we do the voting thing. The problem with voting is that there are four of us. We have come to an agreement that if there is a strong NO from just one of us, then we won’t do the song. We don’t want anyone to play music they don’t like.
“Heavy Metal Rules” seems like a more cynical album than work you’ve done in the past.
I think you might be right. Most people when they listen to our new record say, “They’re doing the same thing they always do: singing about getting laid and getting high.” If you really listen to it, it’s a lot different than or previous releases. We are speaking our minds about shit that bums us out and pisses us off. We’re out to upset “the PC police.” The album ends with the song, and that is a completely different road for Steel Panther.
Where did the new song “All I Want Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” come from? Did you maybe watch “Silence of the Lambs” one too many times?
It’s not [literal]. It came from a feeling of getting [dressed up] and looking at yourself in the mirror before going out and being like “Hell yeah, I’d fuck me.”
Do you have more female or male fans?
It’s about 60-40 [percent]. Often times guys will bring their wives or girlfriends, and they’ll wind up having as much a good time.
If someone has a hot wife or girlfriend, should they bring them to a Steel Panther show?
It is a great test for a date. Especially a blind date. If you guys don’t enjoy the show together, chances are you might not have the same values. You should bring a hot chick to our show. It’s like bringing an offering to people that you like.
The Maryland gig is in the DC area. Do you have any plans to visit the White House?
No. The White House is not a place I like to hang out. I’m not into politics. I’m more into heavy metal. And enjoying the fruits of our labor.
But what if the Trump administration named you “Secretary of Metal”?
Hell yeah! I’d do that, as long as it didn’t take away from my touring.
One of us saw you guys play in Vegas in 2010 as part of a bachelor party. It was me and three other dudes and you pointed to us and asked if we were gay.
You were three guys hanging out at the front of the crowd. What did you expect?
I’m having my own bachelor party in Reno in February. Do you think you guys could schedule a gig there the same weekend?
Dude, that would rock if that happened. Congratulations on getting married!
Eric will be at your Silver Spring gig at the Fillmore. How will you recognize him?
Eric, wear a shirt that says “I love pussy” and be at the front so I know it’s you. Bring your wife this time.
What is the one thing you always need to have on the road these days?
Ibuprofen. Before I go on stage and when I get off.
Do you have “addiction issue” with ibuprofen?
No! Maybe. I’m not addicted. But if I stop taking it? I swell up. Everywhere. Except down there. Nobody wants a swollen rock star. Except down there. Steel Panther shows are like sporting events. We really run around on stage. Water and ibuprofen keep me going.
What can the fans expect when they come to see you guys in Maryland?
We are going to do a completely new, revamped set. We’re gonna put some new stuff in there and play some stuff we haven’t played in a very long time. But also, we will not disappoint. We’re gonna play all the classics. I can’t believe I just said that. Like we have classics.
But I did get new spandex for the show. Teal! Which are pretty awesome. I’ll be wearing all-new clothes. And Satchel will be wearing the same old shit he always wears. But he will be playing his brand-new signature Charvel guitar that just came out. I have one right here in my studio.
Well, my mom’s garage.
Steel Panther will be performing at The National in Richmond, VA on Oct. 15th and The Fillmore Silver Spring in Silver Spring, MD on Oct. 18th.
Keith Valcourt is a Los Angeles based music and entertainment writer. He has interviewed thousands of celebrities in the worlds of music, film, TV and comedy for dozens of outlets including: L.A. Times, Washington Times, LFP Publishing, ChelseaCommunityNews.com, RetroRoadMap.com LaArtsOnline and more. Much More
A native of New Jersey, Eric Althoff has published articles in “The Washington Post,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Napa Valley Register,” “Black Belt,” DCist, ScreenComment.com and Luxe Getaways. He produced the Emmy-winning documentary, “The Town That Disappeared Overnight,” and has covered the Oscars live at the Dolby Theater. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife, Victoria.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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