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INTERVIEW – Michael Starr, Steel Panther – December 2013

| 12 December 2013

INTERVIEW – Michael Starr, Steel Panther – December 2013
By Shane Pinnegar

Steel Panther Michael Starr
An edited version of this story was first published in Xpress Magazine’s 11 December 2013 issue, HERE

Steel Panther’s over the top lead singer Michael Starr doesn’t mince his words when talking up the band’s 2013 Australian tour, which hit our shores this week, telling 100% ROCK MAG “We’re lookin forward to it, it’s gonna be so much fun – Australia’s been great for us so far, so why not keep coming back? It’s like, when you finally find a hot chick you like to fuck, you go fuck her again!”

Starr promises a ramped up show will hit Australia, with plenty of differences from their last visit just over twelve months ago.

“We’re bringing along a bunch of production that we’ve never brought before,” he enthuses. “We’re bringing so much production to these shows that our parents had to sell their houses! That’s how much we’re bringing! We’re bringing a video screen – the most important thing is to make sure everyone gets to see us on stage, so we thought, ‘what better way to do that than have a huge video screen behind us, four cameras shooting us.’ We also have incorporated some content, too, that we think people will get a fucking big kick out of.”

Steel Panther 01

No doubt bassist Lexxi Foxx – well known for preening in front of a hand held mirror even while onstage – will be happy about his image being projected onto a big screen.

“Yeah!” laughs the likeable Starr, “He has his own camera, so he’s pretty excited about that – he’s been practicing in front of a camera for days!”

The hair metal revivalists have a new album – their third – ready to release at the beginning of 2014, to be titled All You Can Eat – a very ‘Steel Panther’ title if ever there was one.

“It really is!” Starr concurs. “There’s something for everybody on the Steel Panther food table. Pick up what you want, man, there’s tons of it.”

Starr says that the record has been mastered and sent off for manufacture with all the artwork, and is a progression for the band.

“I came to the conclusion Shane, that our records are really conceptual. I mean, not conceptual but there’s a concept, theme – all the records are tied together… kind’ve like a Queensryche record almost.” He says in such a way that I’m unsure if he’s serious or joking. “Every record’s tied with having sex and partying. On this record there’s a different edge to it, a different side to Steel Panther.

“I feel that we’ve really come into our own on this record, and I hope everyone digs it. It’s not like it’s completely different – we haven’t lost our Steel Panther element, it’s just different… it’s a little heavier, it’s a little more in your face, and it’ll definitely get people in the audience and make them wanna move. Because people were moshing Community Property, and now we’ve given them a song they can actually mosh to with the song behind them.

“I think this record is a little edgier than the last one – but we’re still fucking chicks and singing about it!”

Steel Panther 02

Australian audiences will get an early listen to two tracks from the album on this tour, including the single Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World which was released a few weeks ago.

“Then we have a song called Glory Hole,” Starr explains, “which is really a love story… it’s fun and it rocks, and it’s exciting to play – I think people are really gonna dig it, man.”

Steel Panther’s Spreading The Disease tour features sleaze rock heavyweights Buckcherry and muscle metal stalwarts Fozzy in support, making for a sweet triple bill to tantalise audiences. Starr is as excited about the line-up as audiences have been.

“Well, A. J. [Maddah] the promoter, he added Fozzy [to the bill] about two months ago, and Buckcherry, they’re such a great band live – like, when you see them live they have so much charisma. The lead singer Josh, when you watch him perform, he’s captivating. And that’s what we want when we do tours. Like, when I go to a show I wanna watch from the beginning of the show to the end of the show you know? I don’t want some shitty old [support] band, I wanna see some talent!”

When I interviewed Fozzy’s singer Chris Jericho recently and asked how a family man like him will go backstage amongst Steel Panther’s “groupies and blow” lifestyle, he said Steel Panther had better train up to match him on the Grey Goose vodka shots. Michael Starr says he is well up to that challenge, and looks forward to some backstage antics with the ex-wrestlemania star.

“Yeah, I gotta tell you, Chris Jericho, he fits in backstage better than most fucking bands, I tell you that. He’s got that family man persona, like the ex-wrestler clean cut image, but it’s not like that backstage. I’m not gonna say he’s fuckin’ other chicks, ‘cos no way – he’ll fuckin’ kill me! But that’s just the way it is, man, you know. Once you’re… he was introduced to Steel Panther about 4 years ago at the House Of Blues – he got up and sang with us, and ever since we’ve been really close.”

Steel Panther 03

Talking to Starr for the first time in two years, one thing is abundantly apparent – although Steel Panther started very tongue in cheek, parodying the hair metal genre, with the impending release of their third album they seem to have realised that they’re a real band. Sure, the lyrics are still tongue in cheek and hilariously over the top, but there’s less acting out their characters and more talk of this being who they really are. Perhaps, in truth, Steel Panther are just saying and doing the things a lot of us secretly wish we could, if we weren’t bound by social mores.

By way of example, Starr insists that he’s not stockpiling heartfelt acoustic singer/songwriter love ballads like Mark Wahlberg’s character at the end of the movie Rockstar.

“Oh god, no.” he says, “When we’re in the studio and cutting vocals, it’s a blast man. What you hear on the records are who we are as people, you know. We tried other bands – Satchel had another band, I had my own band, and we did the serious rock thing, and it never worked, we were never able to get a record deal or have it take off, but once we started being who we are and putting that into the music, it just took off, and it’s great, it’s really fun! ‘Cos having integrity is great, we just have integrity in a different way – we don’t give a fuck!

“Our lifestyle can be funny, and if you start singing about [your] feelings, and how shitty the world is, and all the bad shit out there – I don’t wanna hear about that shit! If I can make a chick laugh, it really helps – I’m fuckin’ 54 years old man, [Editor’s note – Wikipedia says that Ralph Saenz, Starr’s real name, is actually 48] if I can make a 23 year old chick laugh at my age- fucking good, dude! It means I’m gonna get laid! [Being labelled a comedy band] doesn’t bother us – it’s actually a compliment!”

Does Ralph Saenz ever get sick of being Michael Starr?

“Well, Michael Starr is who Ralph Saenz is.” He says plainly. “You know, if you were to ask Axl Rose, ‘is Bill like Axl?’ it’d be like, ‘well that is who I am, I’m Axl Rose!’ For me, I’m like, Michael Starr is who I really am. I just don’t like the name Ralph – my parents gave me that name as a kid, and I never liked it. My middle name was Michael, and I’ve always wanted to be a star – so I just put it together and there it is – I’m Michael Starr!”

Steel Panther 04

A conversation with Starr wouldn’t be complete without some mention of groupies, and asking if the band get crazy stalkers opens that door wide.

“Yeah – I was in Australia a couple months ago doing promo for the tour,” he explains, “the bummer about some of these girls is, they suck AMAZING dick! That’s the confusing part, and that’s what gets them backstage all the time. But once they’re done doing that they need to leave and the stalker ones don’t. [This one chick] called me in my hotel room – I had a different name on the hotel room but she found me, ‘cos I took a picture of the fruit in my hotel room and she figured it out by the curtains, where I was… so I had her come suck my dick!”

Steel Panther have certainly come a long way since they were playing covers on a Monday night at little shithole venues in L.A. and Vegas, but Starr looks back on those days fondly.

“They were the days that really taught us how to be professional musicians and go out and tour. When we finally got a deal and started touring, and [we played] thirty shows in two months, and [did] all the travelling, we were totally ready for it because we played, like, three shows a week for years – we never took a break. So in some respects it was a great time, and all the stages were really small so the girls were super close, it was just fun. As a matter of fact we just stopped doing our Monday night show about five months ago, and our Vegas show about three months ago – and I kinda miss it.”

After stomping the boards of Soundwave Festival and England’s Download Festival, amongst others around the world, Starr says he’s looking forward to playing club-sized venues again – or, in fact, any venues at all.

“Anywhere we play it’s good for us, because for us, our goal is to be a worldwide sensation and to bring heavy metal back to the forefront of popular music. And I think that we’re really gonna do that!

“We’re not only the newest biggest rock band on the planet, but we’re also the oldest band to get a multi record deal through a major label.” Starr continues. “No bands do that – but we did it. We’re the first heavy metal band to have two number one records in the comedy charts – no-one’s ever done that! We’re the first band to play fourteen years in a row, every Monday night in Hollywood – no-one’s ever done that! And now that we’re going out and spreading out through the world it’s exciting – it’s like taking testosterone every day. I feel young, I feel ready to rock!

With our time almost up, we reach out to Michael for advice for our readers. First up, does he have any tips for groupies who wanna get backstage to hang with the band?

“Don’t suck the crew’s dicks!” he says, straight faced. “’Cos we’ll know if it happens – and then you won’t get backstage!”

Steel Panther 05

Finally, any advice to young guys or girls sitting there looking at a guitar and thinking, ‘should I pick that thing up and become a rockstar?’

“Well the first thing you wanna do is get a good mirror, a full length mirror,” the man dubbed a ‘chubby David Lee Roth’ explains, “you wanna put it in your room, and you don’t wanna think about whether you should pick up the guitar or not, you wanna just pick it up, and practice ALL the moves in front of the mirror. You gotta perfect what you’re doing visually before you start learning how to play, because really people come to SEE you perform. So you gotta be a performer first.

“The best piece of advice I can give anyone who is just starting out,” he continues, more seriously, “is NEVER give up. Like I told you earlier – we’re the oldest band to get signed, so it could happen for you!”

Don’t miss Steel Panther when they party like tomorrow is the end of the world on their S.T.D. Tour Of Australia – Thursday 12 December at Perth’s Metro City.



Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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