STEEL PANTHER – “‘Magical Vagina’ Is A Love Story”

February 24, 2023, a year ago

By Aaron Small

feature hard rock steel panther

STEEL PANTHER – “‘Magical Vagina’ Is A Love Story”

In every aspect, Steel Panther’s new album, On The Prowl, goes right back to the beginning of this often imitated, but never duplicated band of rock ‘n roll Casanovas. The excitement felt when hearing Feel The Steel for the first time, back in 2009, has been recreated in 2023. “I appreciate that so much! I feel the same way dude,” says vocalist Michael Starr.
On The Prowl is album number six from Steel Panther. It’s also the first to feature new bassist Spyder, who replaced Lexxi Foxx. “Spyder played all the bass on the record,” confirms Starr. “A lot of people think that Satchel did it, but Satchel will tell you himself, he is not a bass player; nor does he want to be a bass player. Spyder played all the bass parts; we made sure he played all the right notes. He also added a bunch of cool new notes, which is pretty rad. And he’s got some really great feel. Lexxi had great feel too. It’s really important because Stix (Zadinia, drummer) and Spyder are the foundation of the band. If you don’t have a solid bass player… I mean, the average listener won’t know what’s going on. But it doesn’t blend and gel the right way. So, we’re grateful to have Spyder in the band, he’s a great player.”
Having seen Spyder live on stage as a member of Steel Panther in November 2022 at History in Toronto, Ontario, he fit perfectly; the missing puzzle piece has been found. “I think so too. You know, we’ve been playing together off and on for over 20 years. We’re very familiar with one another, we know how to move out of each other’s way on stage. It’s the simplest things that you don’t think about, until you’re playing with somebody who doesn’t know how to do all that stuff. And there’s a lot that goes into playing different size stages. Every stage is different every night. There’s stage etiquette – you’ve got to know when to move out of the way, where to go, where not to go. And Spyder knows how to do all that stuff. That was one element that just – like you were saying, the puzzle piece fit perfectly. He was able to just hop on stage and jam with us; it felt like we didn’t even miss a beat.”

Finding Lexxi’s replacement was quite the undertaking! It included virtual auditions, which were open to the public, followed by the Road To The Road promotion, that narrowed it down to ten finalists. At what point did you know Spyder was the right guy? And how many applicants did you go through during that audition process? “Well, the idea behind the open call was to be able to give everyone an opportunity to submit. When you just do it behind the scenes, it’s limited. So, we really wanted to open it up and see what was out there. We found a bunch of great dudes, and we tried a lot of them out on the road. And we decided on one of them, after we had a voting thing put up on our site, for people to help us choose. We picked one guy, and we went out on tour with him. It was great, but we just couldn’t come to terms on the business end of the deal. So, we moved on from him. But it kind of happened right before we were leaving for our summer five-week European tour. It was like, oh my god, what are we going to do? So, we called Spyder and said, ‘We know you’ve got your other project going on right now, but would you be able to fill in?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’ So, he filled in while we were on tour. I think it was shortly after the Download Festival. We’re like, ‘Dude, why aren’t you in this band?’ He was like, ‘I don’t know? I was thinking the same thing.’ We’re like, ‘Do you want to be in it?’ He’s like, ‘Hell yeah I want to be in it.’ That was pretty much it. Very simple and perfect. Cause you know, sometimes you don’t see something that’s sitting right in front of you. And that’s exactly the experience we had with Spyder.”
Rumor has it that Spyder used to be Steel Panther’s tour manager. “He’s done a lot of behind the scenes stuff with Steel Panther. And he’s also been the fill-in bass player for Lexxi for years. He filled-in for Lexxi back in 2004; he’s been around. Also, he’s in The Atomic Punks with Satchel and I. As a matter of fact, he was still playing in that band, so he had to sever that tie, and that was a big deal. He was in that band for 25 years.”
Although the new album is called On The Prowl, there isn’t a song with that name. However, On The Prowl is pretty much Steel Panther’s motto – always on the prowl for a party or some pussy. Great album title! “Thanks. We have, in our notes in our phone, a list in the Cloud. It’s called, The Titles For Albums list. And every time we come up with a funny idea for a record title, we’ll put it down in the notes. On The Prowl’s been on there for like, ten years. That was going to be the title of the first record, but we were like, ‘No, let’s do Feel The Steel.’ Years later we went through all the ones we had, and it was like, let’s do On The Prowl. It’s perfect! It’s kind of cheesy and funny.”

Did Steel Panther ever try and write a song called “On The Prowl”? Or did you want to keep it like Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses? “Yeah, we just wanted the title to stand alone, as we have with I think, all our records. I think, let’s see… Feel The Steel, there’s no song. Balls Out, there’s not a song called ‘Balls Out’. Dude – you just came up with a great idea. We should put out, our next record should be all titles from our records, all the songs. That’s a good idea; and just for the record, I can’t believe I came up with that idea all on my own, thanks! Oh shit! My manager just texted me and said, ‘Our record, Heavy Metal Rules, has a song called “Heavy Metal Rules” on it.’ My bad.”
Speaking of Appetite For Destruction, that’s the first line to the song “1987”, which is such a great tune. It’s hard to believe that was 36 years ago! But what a special year for music. “It really was. I think it was the peak of heavy metal; and we didn’t even know it. That lyric is in the song too. You don’t realize you’re in your prime until you’re passed. Then you’re like, ‘Oh shit! I was in my prime.’ The same with the music, it was crescendo-ing. We didn’t realize that it was going to be the end of heavy metal, coming into the ‘90s. When we started reflecting on that year, we were like, ‘What a great subject title for a song.’”
Lyrically, Steel Panther is responsible for some of the most hysterical words ever put to music, and On The Prowl continues that tradition. It’s time to pick out a few of the best lines found on the new album, beginning with the song “Friends With Benefits”. It contains the following gem: “You get the Louis Vuitton, I get a face to cum on.” Honestly, that sounds more like a Sugar Daddy relationship, than Friends With Benefits. If you’ve got to buy her that purse… “Yeah dude, it’s a fine line between a Gold-Digging Whore and Friends With Benefits. You know, all relationships have a push and pull. Somebody gives you something, you give them something back. I think, in that realm, it works pretty well. But hey, if you’ve got some money to hook up a chick with some bags, I think that’s pretty cool.”
How many “Friends With Benefits” visited the studio during the recording of On The Prowl? Going back to Appetite For Destruction one more time, if you listen to “Rocket Queen”, you can hear the sound of a “Friend” in that song. “Yeah, you know it’s funny you say that. I was just thinking about that last night. In the studio, we always have ‘Friends’ there; it’s just the way it is. Then, as everything started to get more remote and online, then it went away. We’re not really in the studio like we used to be. On our first record, we were in the studio for three-and-a-half, four weeks. In one spot, recording everything. As the years have gone on… we spend two days doing the drums, and then I’m recording vocals. Satchel does his guitars at home. Stix does all his percussion at home, same with the bass player; actually Lexxi would go in the studio and record with the drums. But I did all the vocals at the producer’s house. That’s another thing to maybe, one day, sing about. Remember back in the day when we had a bunch of chicks in the studio… that doesn’t really happen anymore, cause we’re not in the studio that much.”

“On Your Instagram” highlights an unfortunate reality in 2023 – the problem of enhanced photos and fake profiles in the online dating world. “Yeah, dude. Tinder’s tough. You go on there and you see somebody, then you meet them and – what? But the best way to do that is, you tell them to meet you somewhere, and tell them to wear a red scarf, somewhere on their body. That way, you can just peer in the window and check it out. That way, you can see if the picture’s accurate. And if it’s not accurate, then you can just bail. Just send a message saying, ‘Hey, thanks for wearing the red scarf.’” Back in the ‘80s, when newspapers ran advice columns, that would have been printed. “Yeah, that could have actually been in the back of Playboy.”
There’s one guest star on this album, namely guitarist Dweezil Zappa, who appears on “Is My Dick Enough?” Talk about an unbelievably hilarious song! But how did Frank Zappa’s son end up playing on a Steel Panther record? “Satchel and Dweezil are friends,” explains Starr. “He’s been around us for a long time; we’ve always talked about him being on a record. Satchel and I were over at his new studio in the Valley, and we’re hanging out, listening to some Van Halen; cause he’s a big Van Halen freak! We always compare any type of vintage Van Halen shit we can find and listen to. We were just like, ‘Hey, you should do something on this new record.’ He’s like, ‘Okay, what do you want me to do?’ We’re like, ‘How about play a solo?’ He’s like, ‘Alright.” So, he plugged in his guitar, recorded the solo, and we put it on the record. That simple!”
Hopefully, “Is My Dick Enough?” is not a question you have to ask often. “No, I think that is more of just… look, every guy, regardless if they want to say it or not, you want to make sure it’s a two-way street when you’re having sex. You want to make sure your partner’s being pleased and enjoying themselves. So, it’s a funny take on that thing. Is my dick enough? Or are you f*cking somebody else? Because you don’t seem like you’re into it like you used to be.”
On The Prowl is full of sexually charged songs. “Magical Vagina” is built upon the phrase, “I’m in love with your vagina.” That’s what every girl wants to hear, right? “Well, you know, some girls really don’t think their vaginas are pretty, and they really are. They can be. You just need to groom properly and take care of ‘em. Just like a penis. You’ve got to wash it; no one like stinky balls.” The ‘70s are over, we don’t need big hairy bush. “Not anymore, those days are gone. So, that’s cool. And you know, ‘Magical Vagina’ is a love story about falling in love with your girl’s vagina. It’s really cool.” It’s comedy gold hitting on all levels. “Magical Vagina” has dating advice, great music, and laughs. “Thank you. One of my favorite parts is the very end, outro chorus; it reminds me of Journey. The big harmonies, I love that song!”

This album is almost like a tennis match, going back and forth from dicks to vaginas. “All That And More” – you wouldn’t know it from the title, but the lyric goes, “My dick is all that and more.” What a follow-up to “Magical Vagina”. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe had a co-write on that song. “Yeah, Tommy Lee! That song is so different for us. Stix, he really went all out on that song. That’s one of Stix’s favorite drum songs, he just loves playing that one. Hopefully we’ll be able to play it live. It’s really difficult to figure out what to play live, because obviously we’re going to play the singles that we put out. But it’s also nice to pick a couple that aren’t singles to play. But then you also have to remember, we’ve got to play songs that people are expecting to hear. I guess we could be like Bruce Springsteen and play for three hours, but we can’t do that at our age. So, we just need to really figure out what we’re going to play. That’s what we’re going to try to do on this next world tour – put a couple songs in there that we haven’t played in a long, long time; or ever at all.”
It's fitting that “One Pump Chump” is the shortest song on the album. Don’t think that went unnoticed at a mere 2 minutes and 17 seconds. “Yeah, we got a couple songs like that. ‘Sleeping On The Rollaway’ is only like 2:45, or something like that. It’s pretty short. It’s pretty cool to have short songs on there. We don’t normally have short songs, they’re usually four minutes long, so it’s a little different. That’d be a song we should probably do live, because it’s so short, we’ll be able to put two songs in.”
Musically, “One Pump Chump” is similar to “Glory Hole”. “Yeah, there’s a similar pull-off technique in the guitar riff; obviously it’s faster. It’s a little bit more choppy. I think ‘Glory Hole’ is a little smoother, more groovy type thing. So yeah, there’s some similarities, but I think it stands alone. But it’s so funny because ‘Glory Hole’ has to do with your dick, and so does ‘One Pump Chump’. It’s amazing how that happened! Everybody asks us, ‘How do you guys keep writing songs about dicks and pussies?’ It’s the same way that The Bee Gees kept writing songs about falling in love. It’s just the same thing.”
When you look at the song title “Pornstar”, prior to hearing it, you really don’t know what to expect. Is this going to be a list of all the best adult actresses and their movies? No, it’s actually a story about your girl being so hot, that you’re afraid to let her out of the house. “Well yeah, cause then she’ll be gone,” affirms Starr. “But not in a creepy way; they want to be there. It’s not like you’re locking them up or anything like that. If you’re able to look at your girl and say, ‘You could have been a porn star, baby!’ That’s the best compliment you could ever give your girl.” Again, in the ‘80s, porn was much less prevalent. Now, there’s YouPorn, RedTube, PornHub – an endless amount of absolutely free online pornography to watch. “Yeah, so anybody could be a porn star. I guess it’s not that big of a compliment?” Well, your girl would be a top-notch porn star; one that gets tens of millions of views. Not one that gets ten or fifteen. “Exactly. I like that. Ok good, so it still is a compliment.”

“Ain’t Dead Yet” is so surprising! That song goes in a completely different direction for Steel Panther. It’s an acoustic strummer; how did that track come about? “Ah, the record was completely done. We were mastering all the songs. For people that don’t know – mastering is the thing you do at the very end, after all the music is mixed. You do a master mix, and that’s usually what ends up being the CD, or goes on Spotify. Satchel reached out and said, ‘Hey man, I just wrote this song called ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’. Check it out, I think it’d be cool to go on the record. I was like, ‘We’re already done!’ He goes, ‘Check it out.’ So, I listened to it, and I’m like, ‘Alright, I think it’s great! Let’s do it.’ He sent me the music and I recorded the vocals in my studio. Then I sent it to Stix, and he recorded his parts on it. We sent it off to the producer; he mixed it and mastered it, and it ended up on the record last minute.”
Another spectacular lyric can be found on “Ain’t Dead Yet”: “Took a cue from old Kid Rock, they want your money not your cock.” “It’s true, and everybody knows it. Kid Rock has it down. By the way, Kid Rock was a big advocate for Steel Panther early on. He helped us out a lot behind the scenes.” Has Steel Panther and Kid Rock ever played together? “No, we haven’t played together. Well yeah, we did. He came on stage and jammed with us. We did his Kid Rock Cruise (in 2016), so on the deck we did a jam together. He came out and did some Van Halen with us; it was really cool, man. Before that, he came and saw us in Australia. He put together a huge, big dinner with the promoters and everything. He was just flexing for us. By the way, his girlfriend’s a huge fan! And none of the guys in the band have f*cked her, so he’s loyal to us.”
The Kid Rock Cruise is certainly not the only hard rock / heavy metal cruise available these days. There’s also 70,000 Tons Of Metal, ShipRocked, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, KISS Kruise; even Megadeth had their own MegaCruise. Have you ever considered a Steel Panther Cruise? “Yeah, we actually did. We’ve been working with one of the promoters, it just hasn’t come to fruition. Actually, what it really boils down to is having someone invest the start-up money to do it. And people are scared of our brand. They’re worried. I think it’s just one of those things like, KISS, they don’t give a fuck. They brought us out; we did two KISS Kruises. It went great, and their fans embraced us and loved us. Same with Kid Rock. I think it’s just a matter of time before we have our own cruise, and our own festival too.”
(Photos by David Jackson)



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