It's been a few years since LA rock monsters Steel Panther vehemently penetrated the world's eardrums with the resounding battle cry of 'Death To All But Metal', and they've stayed true to their all-conquering ethos ever since. Evidently, the world – Australia in particular – has heeded the call. After a typically turbulent recording process, the band unleashed their second serving of unabashed hair metal glory, Balls Out – featuring tracks such as 17 Girls In A Row and It Won't Suck Itself (featuring Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, no less). Australian audiences first witnessed such numbers during the band's arrival for the massive Soundwave Festival earlier in 2012, a tour which included some decent-sized double-headline Sidewaves with Alter Bridge. With the announcement of a swift return to our fair land to hit even bigger venues, it seems we can't get enough of Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxxx and Stix Zadinia.
I first spoke to Starr ahead of ahead of the Soundwave visit at the start of the year, when he then laid clear Steel Panther's less-than-wholesome intentions. “So that’s where we want to infiltrate – the vagina of Australia, and work that magic.” It's safe to say we can consider ourselves infiltrated.
“Oh my god, it was amazing. I think Australia has really great taste in music, that’s what I think it is,” Starr states the month before their triumphant return, rationalising the phenomenon that was their Soundwave appearance. “ We had no idea what the reception would be, and to come out on stage early – sometimes it was like noon – and it would just be packed. It was so fuckin’ fun, all the other bands on the tour would come on side of stage and watch our show. It was so flattering and so unexpected and overwhelming and fun. I dunno man, but to be received like that – I don’t want to sound corny – but it was really a blessing. We’re so stoked to have the opportunity to come jam there and fuck all those hot chicks too,” he beams. “Australian chicks are pretty fucking hot, dude."
“I gotta tell you man, it’s time for heavy metal to come back. I think people are sick and fuckin’ tired of listening to Justin Bieber.” The release of the debut record Feel The Steel was accompanied with a no-nonsense manifesto which laid out the gameplan of bringing back heavy metal. The following years saw a massive resurgence in the long-dormant genre – whether it's in the form of massive arena tours from the original titans, or the runaway success that is the Rock Of Ages stage/film production. So with their original goal seemingly achieved, what domains are left for Steel Panther to conquer? “I think we not only need to do world domination, but galaxy domination,” Starr declares. “First we have to start off by completely dominating the whole world. So far we have Australia, Europe, North America, Canada and now we need South America, Asia – we need everything. I think everyone should be able to enjoy heavy metal. Don’t you?”
With Balls Out nearing its first birthday, the album has more than seeped its way into the conscious of the adoring Steel Panther fanbase. Sing-alongs to anthems such as Just Like Tiger Woods (sometimes replete with a spot-on Woods impersonator onstage) and Gold Digging Whore. It's a response which has even exceeded Starr's decidedly cocksure expectations. “It’s been really good, we’re not a traditional band that sells a lot of records. Most people just download our stuff for free, which is totally cool,” he states with refreshing aplomb. “Everybody knows our stuff. It’s been great. What we try to do when we’ve been touring is play 50-50 – in other words 50 percent off Feel The Steel and 50 percent off Balls Out. We try to mix it up as best we can. Even when we play a track from Balls Out that we think people may not really respond to, they seem to still get it and love it. So it’s been cool so far.”
Seemingly each Steel Panther performance is imbued with the seal of approval from the rock gods of days gone by – either the aforementioned side of stage nods of approval, the tour support requests, or even special guest onstage appearances. Are we witnessing the heavy metal torch being passed down? “No, I don’t think it’s been passed down. I think what’s happening and what you’re witnessing is everybody coming together in the community. We were touring with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, and they don’t need to pass down any fuckin’ torch, quite honestly. It’s more like, ‘Come on, welcome Steel Panther, welcome to heavy metal-ville, we’ve been doing it for 25 years’. Def Leppard taught us a lot of shit about what it means to be on the road, and what it means to be an arena act. It’s a lot different than playing clubs. But I think we’re all just coming together man and rockin’. It’s fun dude, watching Sebastian Bach jam, and fuckin’ hanging out with Scorpion. It’s a fuckin’ dream come true.”
The Steel Panther following is spreading forth much like an out of control STI, to the point where fans focus their at-times lustful adoration to a singular band member. “Oh my god, are you kidding me? Lexxi Foxxx has a lot of chicks that dig the fuck out of him. It’s crazy. I think the reason they love him so much is because he’s safe. Then I have my share of fans as well, there are definitely Michael Starr fans, there are definitely Stix fans, there are definitely Satchel fans. You can always tell who the Satchel fans are because they’ll look you in the face and go ‘fuck you’,” he explains.
Another Balls Out cut, I Like Drugs, showcases both the four-piece's aversion to metaphor and their penchant for drugs. The recording of the album was beset by a revolving door rotation into and out of rehab facilities. It's a miracle the album even saw the light of day. “I don’t think they were actually demons, but we got our advance for the record and it was bad timing,” Starr rues. “You should never advance a band all their money from the record before they record, because there is no incentive. Once you start partying we’re like ‘fuck’. But everyone’s fine now, we have a new manager who made us go on salaries so we don’t get any more than we need for the month, you know what I mean? There’s no extra money just sitting in our pockets, so we’re not going ‘what do we do with all this? Let’s go get some shit!’ That’s worked out really good, everyone’s cool, everyone’s really happy. That’s some advice I’d give anyone that’s trying to make it, don’t start shooting heroin. That’s a bad thing. I would just say if you’re going to shoot heroin, do it with your parents,” he states, imparting priceless wisdom. “Well I wouldn’t recommend that. Just stay away from the opiates. They’re pretty addictive. And you’ll end up doing shit you regret,” he elaborates. "Cocaine is pretty safe.”
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
STEEL PANTHER wreak havoc on Festival Hall this Sunday October 7.