STEEL PANTHER – Lowering The Bar To A New Level
January 2, 2018, a year ago
Freezing, snowy, an icy breeze chilling to the bone. Typical conditions for a Midwest city like Cleveland and that’s exactly how it was on December 12th, but the air would soon be heating up with the sexiest rockers on the planet, Steel Panther, taking the stage at the House Of Blues. Before their show, I chatted with singer Michael Starr (keeping warm under a blanket) and bassist and Cleveland hometown kid Lexxi Foxx (checking himself out with his hand mirror).
“It feels really good, we’re playing a lot of new songs from the record tonight”, says the raucous vocalist about the band’s newest album Lower The Bar. “It sold really well; it sold just as good as our last record (2014’s All You Can Eat) so we’re really excited about that and we’re finally going to support Lower The Bar in the UK and the rest of Europe in three weeks.”
Lower The Bar marks the first time the band included a cover song, the choice being Cheap Trick’s “She’s Tight” featuring guest vocals from the Robin Zander. Another Trick song was under consideration to cover, but according to Starr, Zander “really wanted to sing that one.”
The prettiest bassist on earth sheds more light about Zander, “He’s been wanting to sing on all our records, but we just kept going ‘no, no, no,’ because he really wants to sing and we’re like ‘no’. So we finally said on the first record (2009’s Feel The Steel), once we finally do our record in 2017; then we’re going to let you be on that one.”
The Panther is clawing their way with other covers too, not in the form of a record, but a tour called Steel Panther Presents The Sunset Strip, comprised of the band’s favorite songs to play before they were signed to a record deal. The first show took place December 29th in Las Vegas.
Starr elaborates on this tour, “It’s something we’ve been thinking; ‘how can we get to the broad audience?’ Because right now we have a lot of Steel Panther fans, but radio will not let us in. The mainstream will not let us in, so one way we can get heavy metal back is to secure the perimeters and bring them in to our fold. Once they’re in the herd you can’t get out.”
Foxx adds, “We think that everybody else is going to love what we love because we have really, really good taste in metal and in that era so we’re going to play the songs that we really, really like from the ‘80s.”
On the flip side of bringing metal back to the masses, there is a push from some “true” metalheads that think Steel Panther is making a mockery of metal with their spandex look, making jokes, and vulgarity.
Starr’s take on it, “That’s just the way it is, you know what I mean? People still that with KISS. They think, ‘oh God, they’re still just clowns.’”
“It just proves they’re not because they took their makeup off and they’re not clowns,” Foxx chimes in with.
The singer provides more to the answer saying, “They’re just people, and when you take off our spandex or makeup, we’re just dudes who love heavy metal. Like when you see a super-hot girl, she could be totally hot dressed down in sweats and everything. Chances are if she puts on a super-tight dress with the cleavage sticking out and high heels, killer makeup, and she’s got a cocktail in hand, you want to fuck her more.”
It sounds like a band that totally knows their place and Starr provides the analogy only a man of his stature could come up with. With a plethora of topics sung about, what is the one topic Steel Panther needs to cover?
The singer takes this one, “Well I was going to call the guys in Steel Panther and tell them ‘look, you should cover something about hair because we don’t talk about hair.’ We talk about cutting hair in ‘Poontang Boomerang’, but we don’t talk about hair hair and how to grow it because a lot of guys don’t realize as you get older; like him and I, we have blonde hair, it’s a process so as you get older it doesn’t grow as long and the reason that is because your ends split and if you don’t cut your ends every 6-7 weeks. Can you name one band that’s sang a song about hair, besides shaving vagina hair?”
I sure as hell couldn’t think of one and for those that want to know, this process of taking care of your hair is called “hair farming.”
Hard to believe, but 2019 marks 10 years since their debut, Feel The Steel was released and the band has plans to celebrate with something a little extra included.
Starr elaborates, “Feel The Steel anniversary is coming up and we’ve been in talks with our label Universal about doing a rollout for that and maybe going out and playing the record in its entirety naked.”
Foxx declares, “We think it’s going to attract more people, because I don’t think there’s ever been a band that has done a 10 year reunion naked.”
That is very true, and the singer points out, “Well, Red Hot Chili Peppers went naked, but had a sock on their penis, but no sock on the cock.”
The only problem with this idea is playing in a cold environment so a summer tour would be the most optimal for this to work.
Steel Panther has been together for longtime now with Starr, Foxx, guitarist Satchel, and drummer Stix Zadinia. I asked them if they would ever consider having replacement members in the group.
Both answered right on the money, “Totally.”
“I have a son that I just found out about,” says Starr, “and he looks a lot like me and he can sing so I was thinking, maybe he can do some shows for me every now and then. If I’m hungover or something, he can go out, people wouldn’t know. He can lip-synch to what I lip-synch, but really truly, all joking aside, I think we can totally replace everyone in this band.”
A total, egoless response which I considered surprising. But how does the Panther get away with being non-PC in a PC world? They say whatever the hell they want in their songs and do not give a damn about offending anybody.
“What’s PC? Parental control?” questions Foxx. I meant politically correct. “Oh, I don’t follow politics”, says the bassist, “because I don’t know what the fuck they’re saying!”
“Once they start talking about Republicans and Democrats I kind of tune out at that point,” asserts Starr. “I feel like religion, politics, and heavy metal – it’s just like mixing oil and water and vinegar. It just doesn’t really go together so I feel like what we do is we give a big ‘fuck you’ to a lot of people that try to control other people. I feel like you should express yourself the way you want. As long as you’re not harming anybody physically, it’s fun to sing about shit people only think about. We know Tiger Woods thinks about it!”
Being their background is the glam/hair metal, I wondered if they were aware of newer bands like Santa Cruz, Crazy Lixx, and Reckless Love.
Starr took the mantle on this question, “I just went through a slew of them last night on Facebook and watched them all and I thought, ‘how cool would it be to get all those bands together to go out and do a tour together?’ Because it’s the same genre; I mean they’re younger and more current than we are and we’re definitely outdated and dinosaurs, but at the same time it would be cool to have us all together and fuckin’ tour. That would be killer! Santa Cruz, (talks to Lexxi), man you would be jealous of how cute the singer is (Archie Cruz). I like that band a lot, the guitar playing is killer; songwriting is good and it’s catchy. I really think that would be a fun fucking tour.”
It would be a shot in the arm for the genre and could expose fans to a new generation of glam metal. Make it happen boys!