Steel Panther came back to the UK this week, after amazing reactions from crowds during their support slot for Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard in November prompted them to set out on a headline tour of Europe.
Often compared to The Darkness, they combine glam metal songs with Spinal Tap humour and have quickly become known for their outrageous lyrics, hilarious on-stage personas and virtuoso musical ability.
The band comprises four personalities. Lead singer, Michael Starr (often described as ‘a chubby David Lee Roth’ by his band mates), guitarist Satchel, pretty but vacant bassist Lexxi Foxxx and drummer Stix Zadina.
MM caught up with Starr and Satchel before their Manchester show on Friday.
These guys are committed to their rock and roll personas; so for those who are easily offended, this might not be for you. Just keep in mind that on the whole, they’re joking (at least, we hope they are).
MM: Your tour of Europe is almost over, how do you think it’s gone so far?
MS: It’s been overwhelming, but fun. It started out on the tour, and we were playing little places we played once or twice like a long time ago or we’d never been before. Each show kept ramping up and ramping up and then we got to the UK and they were like the big shows for us.
MM: So you enjoy touring the UK?
MS: I love it. It’s like I said on stage in Birmingham, it felt like we were home, cause that’s where I think Steel Panther really broke - here in the UK as an original band.
MM: The Birmingham show was your first on the UK leg of the tour, how did that feel?
Satchel: Honestly, I don’t remember it.
MS: You were high.
Satchel: It happens at most of the shows, I just hear about it later, and I recreate the memories from scratch, and then I re-forget them.
Satchel: Because I get high again.
MM: How do you manage to play so well in that state?
Satchel: By this point it’s really just muscle memory. It’s the same reason you still know how to walk when you’re drunk, you know what I mean? It just happens that way. Say you take all your German lessons, and you’re totally high the whole time, at the end of the semester when you take a German test, if you’re not high when you take the test…
MS: …you’ll forget it.
Satchel: You only remember that information when you’re stoned. Which is why I have to be stoned all the time.
MM: Can you actually speak German now?
Satchel: I know a couple of phrases, you need to know how to communicate with the women you bring backstage. Ich habe eine erektion
MS: That means my singer’s fat?
Satchel: No. [To MM] Do you speak German?
MS: I speak German, French and Spanish
Satchel: Wow that’s amazing, I speak all the languages.
MM: All of them?
Satchel: Yeah just all of them. 187 languages.
MS: I’m trilingual, it just happens because of all the travelling. I’m also Bi-
MM: Do you try and address your audience in their native language?
MS: I don’t, he does [points at Satchel]. I get really nervous when I’m on the spot and I can’t really remember the language.
Satchel: I’ll learn a language when we’re in that country and I’ll use it but then I’ll go somewhere else and it’s like “Hey we’re in Italy now, f*** Germany!”
MS: It’s the same in the US. We’ll be in LA and we’ll go to like Bakersfield in New York and he’ll change his whole dialect.
Satchel: Yeah I’ll be speaking like a hipster in LA and shit to talk to all the young kids who think they’re cool, and we’ll go to Idaho and [heavy southern accent] 'I’ll just talk like this' and people go 'man he’s just like us he must raise cows for a living!'
MS: We’re try-lingual - we’ll try anything! [Michael and Satchel high five]
MM: How well do you understand people from Manchester?
Satchel: They have like a really thick accent, I ordered a sandwich today and I could not understand what the girl said.
MS: It’s worse in Glasgow, I thought they were speaking another language. The guys that were drinking, I could understand them. It’s the guys that were sober that I didn’t get.
Satchel: That’s cause you were talking to Lexxi.
MS: My name in Scotland is ‘Meekle’
MM: So you guys sound really good on stage. Michael, have you ever taken any singing lessons?
MS: I took lessons as a kid, when I was eight or nine from this music teacher, Mrs Williams, she was like totally into me - she trained me and gave me a lot of lessons.
Satchel: That was the person who molested you right?
MS: No that was my dad. Anyway she had really big boobs and I remember whenever I would sing something really good, she’d be like 'oh that was so good Michael”'[hugs Satchel into his chest] I swear to God. I don’t know if she was like hitting on me or what, but from that day on I knew that if I sang I’d get boobies.
Satchel: How old were you when that happened?
MS: Eight. And I had a really high soprano voice but when I hit puberty at 25, it lowered, so then I got lessons from a guy named Bruce, he’s an opera singer.
MM: You make it seem effortless is it really that easy for you?
MS: It has been for this tour, but for the last tour we did, Feel the Steel, it got messed up. I got nervous singing in front of all these people, we did a bunch of radio, and we were partying all the time so my voice got wrecked and I had to get lessons again. I hate lessons, it’s like school.
MM: Do you really get nervous? Will you be nervous for the show tonight?
MS: Yeah, I’m nervous to do this interview!
Satchel: I’m not nervous. I’m very comfortable right now.
MS: He’s always the same, it doesn’t matter where we go. We could play in front of like a million people and he doesn’t get nervous. He actually plays better when he is.
Satchel: How do you notice that when you’re so nervous yourself?
MS: Because I have the ability to be nervous and not self-absorbed, when I’m nervous I worry about everybody else.
Satchel: How come you’re so self-absorbed when you’re not nervous?
MS: Because I’m the singer!
MM: What are your Manchester fans like compared with the rest of the UK?
Satchel: Well the girls are way hotter.
MS: They are way hotter, don’t you think? I’ve seen a few and thought ‘This is the kind of girl that I would claim as my girlfriend’.
Satchel: Yeah until you spend like a couple of hours with her and you’re like 'Jesus Chriiiist'.
MM: Have you got a selection process for the girls when you pick them out of the crowd?
Satchel: Yes. If they have boobs they are totally in the pool that we select from.
MS: I like girls that aren’t too…
MS & Satchel: Smart
MS: Because the intelligent girls, they have a tendency to outwit me, and that’s no fun.
Satchel: The dumb ones do too though…
MS: Yeah. I just get them all drunk. When you’re in a band, the girls come to you. When you’re not in a band you have to actually make an effort.
Satchel: It’s way more complicated when you’re not in a band.
MM: What do you do when you’re not on the road then?
Satchel: It sucks. You’ve got to go to the store and you’re just a regular dude with bitchin’ hair and make up on, and you have to compete with all these other guys. I mean you’re still better looking than most dudes but still, they don’t know right off that you’re totally awesome.
MS: Sometimes I carry the record around with me.
Satchel: Sometimes I carry my guitar around the grocery store, with an amp strapped to my back and I’ll jam so they know that I’m talented. Girls want you way more when they think that you’re talented.
MS: It’s true, even if you’re an average looking dude, if you can sing or play guitar you’re way hotter.
MM: Tell us about your third album
Satchel: It’s great. You know what it’s called?
Satchel: Us neither. We just started it. All our songs are based on real experiences. People think we just write them to make ourselves sound cool but it’s just something that happens.
MM: What is your writing process like?
Satchel: Usually we write separately, I write a lot of stuff, and so does he [Michael] and we bring it to the band and everyone has input. And then we tell Lexxi: “Your input is horrible. Stop it.”
MS: He’ll write something and we’ll add to it. Kinda like seasonings to a dish. We’ve been trying outside writers because it’s easier.
Satchel: It’s way easier to have someone write the song for you.
MS: We just need to try and find someone to record it for us too.
MM: The sound on your albums is really good. Do you produce the records yourselves?
Satchel: We have a producer, Jay Ruston, he’s really good at getting tones and mixing.
MS: You know what he does the best? He has the ability to take all our ideas that we have in the studio and to implement them and debate them and we all kind of decide what we should use.
Satchel: And he knows when to keep his goddamn mouth shut.
MS: That’s the most important thing.
MM: You guys are very funny and your shows are a lot about the choreography and the physical performance, have you ever considered a tour DVD or a Steel Panther TV show?
Satchel: You know I’ve heard people say that we’re funny before but I don’t get it.
MS: I don’t get it either.
Satchel: But maybe we should do something. The sooner the better too because we’re really good looking and we’re not getting any younger, you know what I mean? We’re probably not going to stay this good-looking forever.
MS: We decided to document the UK tour, we brought a camera crew out with us because this will never happen again, this growth period that we’re going through, we wanted to document it.
Satchel: But because there’s so much sex going on backstage, it’s very rare that we have our clothes on. I mean we have them on for this interview, but I’m probably about to take them off and go do some sexual things.
MS: Not with each other. With the girls. There’s girls back there.
MM: Are you going to do a lot of partying here in Manchester?
Satchel: We love to entertain after the show. You know have a BBQ…
MS: Sing songs…
Satchel: … And I’ll just take a break. I’m very busy, I like to take breaks as often as possible, get a massage, have a mani pedi…
MM: Have you ever thought about getting a rhythm guitarist to free up your lead?
Satchel: No. The first thing that the second guitar player always says is ‘dude can I take a solo?’ and then you’re cutting into my solo time. No way.
MS: No here’s how it starts: “Hey lets do a harmony solo!”
Satchel: Yeah I know it’s like 'dude, we’re not Iron Maiden!' then suddenly you’re Leather Wolf with the 38 special.
MM: Are you excited to be heading back to the USA in a few days?
MS: Yeah we can’t wait. There’s this strip club that we go to all the time called ‘Deja Vu’ I just miss all my family there.
Satchel: You’re family works there?
MS: No I mean just the girls.
Satchel: God I’m glad they’re not you relatives because I’ve bagged so many of them.
MS: No I miss it. I miss my routine at home, but also we have a routine here now. He and I work out together
Satchel: Yeah and there’s strip clubs here too
MM: What’s your daily routine like?
Satchel: Well we don’t sleep. I haven’t sleep in over four days. There’s too much fun to be had. Do you really want to sleep?
MS: What we do is, we leave about three or four hours after the show. We get on the bus and depending how long the ride is, let’s say the ride is five hours we’ll just party on the bus. Then we get to the hotel and maybe go to bed.
MM: Do you play practical jokes on each other?
MS: There was this one time we took duct tape and put it on Lexxi’s hands and feet and he started trying to crawl around and got stuck to the carpet. It was so funny.
Satchel: He freaked out, he rolled over onto his back like a lady bug.
MS: It’s so easy ‘cause he’s so stupid.
MM: And what about Stix, what is his personality like?
MS: A-type. He has five or six people that follow him around wherever he goes. He just runs that crew and he’s a leader. That’s why he needs to be a drummer. He starts the songs, he ends the songs and he’s in control.
MM: Well we’re excited to see the Manchester show tonight, are you looking forward to it?
MS: Yeah! The last show went by so quickly… I said to the guys backstage, I couldn’t believe it was already over.
Satchel: Meth amphetamines will do that to you.
MS: I was like, 'really, we’re on our last song?' I felt physically exhausted though.
Satchel: That’s how the first 45 years of my life felt.
MS: You’re not 45…
Satchel: No I’m 52. But the last seven years, I’ve really been able to enjoy.
MS: The Manchester fans are so amazing. We love them. We love all our UK fans.
MM: Well thank you for talking to us, enjoy the rest of the tour!
And with that, the lead half of Steel Panther swaggered off to their dressing rooms to get ready for their show.
We’re fairly sure we got some real information out of them. If nothing else it’s clear they love what they do and genuinely appreciate their fans, and we’re left looking forward to a lively show.