"Once People Start Giving You Free Shit You Have to Start Doing Things For Them." Steel Panther on Promotion and Ball Exposure

by

F. SCOTT SCHAFER
  • F. Scott Schafer

Let this be a week for hairspray, black pleather, and boobs. The Sunset Strip hair metal hooligans of Steel Panther will let loose on St. Louis with a sweaty, balls out show at the Pageant on Wednesday.

It's almost too easy to dismiss Steel Panther as a one-joke band that never realized Spinal Tap had been there and done that. Except that this seasoned quartet is actually insanely talented and can rock a power ballad so hard, even the prudest skeptic will whip out her lighter.

The jokes may not be subtle on the band's sophomore album Balls Out, but it's a well-produced tribute to the extravagance of the dirty '80s. Plus, you've gotta admire frontman Michael Starr's commitment to the shtick: Below, he talks to us about hoping to be the first band to play from the moon and having sex with so many women on the road that their names and parts all blend together.

Leah Greenbaum: When you guys were touring last year you said Balls Out refers to a way of life and also a thing that happens sometimes backstage. Has the meaning of that changed for you since the album came out nine months ago?

Michael Starr: Yeah, ya know it's funny to hear you say that because I got a new pair of spandex recently and I was rockin' and I went to do the splits and my spandex split wide open and my balls just popped out out cuz, ya know, I don't wear underwear. So that definitely gives a new meaning to "balls out".

It was actually a little embarrassing 'cuz you know when you're excersing, doing the cardio thing, all the blood rushes to your heart, so stuff down there isn't as big as it would be normally. So that was definitely a balls out experience for me.

Wow, was that on stage?

Oh yup, it went up on the monitor. My pants ripped and you know the rest.

Cool--

It wasn't so cool for the guy standing in the front row. He was a little freaked out, but ya know, guys shouldn't stand in the front row. Guys should always take one step back and put a girl in front of them. That's just common etiquette. Girls should be first. That way you can be behind them and that's always a fun time too.

A lot of your songs are about women and what you guys want to do with them. Do any of those songs resonate with you differently now that the country has spent a year debating women's roles and precisely 'What Girls are For'?

Not really. That's a pretty traditional song. My dad raised me and I learned early on that you have to treat them with respect...you know, women. The guys go out and make the money and the girls do the other stuff. A lot of the girls I hang out with, they have jobs because I don't have a job. So it's kinda of switched around a little bit. So I guess that has changed for me. 'Cuz for me it's like you know, the girl [his wife] will come home from dancing and I'll say 'hey I need some cash' and she'll be like 'well can you make me dinner or something?' And I'm like 'yes dear.' So things are pretty different in this country now, I guess.

Do you ever hear from feminists or Christians or anyone like that about your music?

After we put out 'Gold Digging Whore' we thought we'd hear from Kanye West or something at least... but no nothing. There's no protesting. People enjoy this... it's all the stuff people want to say but they can't say because it's just not politically correct, so we say it for them.

It's odd because you'd think that maybe people would be offended, but it's ramping up. I mean as you can tell, it's not getting smaller, it's getting bigger. I think that's what happens when people get aroused you know. What are you guys ramping up to?

World domination. Now that we can see down the road what can possibly happen to us. We want to play China, we want to play Russia, we want to play all over the world and maybe be the first band to play on the moon. Cuz no band's done it so it'd be pretty cool. Plus if we make mistakes nobody will hear it.

You mentioned that you guys can say things everyone else is thinking but can't say. Is that something unique to metal?

I think that's something unique to Steel Panther because we're our own brand of metal. You know we have throwback qualities of course but at the same time we're forging ahead, and morphing this band into something no one anticipated. Thats why people enjoy it because it's real and its organically happening and it's fun. That's what's missing is FUN. Like when I go to a show I just want to have fun.

I'm just gonna say this and I'm gonna get in trouble for it but I just went to a show and saw Kid Rock and it was FUN. He was FUN. He cracked a bunch of jokes. There was fire, flames, hot chicks. It was killer. I think Cyndi Lauper said it perfectly. Girls just wanna have fun.

And what do guys want?

They want girls to have fun so they can have fun with the girls later.

Can I ask you about your song 'Tiger Woods'. I haven't heard you guys cover something so topical before.

He's just an awesome dude who's been fucking a ton of chicks. He's not a heavy metal guy but he's doing heavy metal shit and we had to call him out for that. ... He's definitely heard the song but we haven't heard from him or anything. He has that deal with Rolodex so he probably can't associate with guys like us.

Do you guys have any cool endorsement deals?

No, we get Kramer and Gibson guitars but we don't want sponsors. ... Because once people start giving you free shit you have to start doing things for them, and we don't want that.

So you guys dont have a spandex sponsor?

Naw, I pick out all my spandex myself personally in downtown LA and I have a designer put it together. Right now I have 43 different pairs of spandex and I only wear six of them on a regular basis, really, but I rotate the other 40 throughout the tour. It's hard though, because you know you open your closet and you keep wearing the same jeans. This is like the same thing. I have my favorite pairs.

Do you and the guys ever get them mixed up on the bus or anything like that

No, but sometimes we'll come in and we'll both be wearing the same animal print and that's a problem so we switch out really quickly.

Is that embarrassing?

No it's not embarrassing, it's just confusing. Because you can't have two guys wearing the same print, you know. The jungle just doesn't have just zebras in it. It's got tigers, panthers, crocodiles, sometimes girafffes. There's all kind of different animal prints you can wear. Black plether is another story though. If two of us are both wearing black plether that's fine. Satchel's very adament about us not all wearing black plether at once though.

What's it like to wear plether on stage in summer?

It fucking sucks. But when you're playing inside it's totally cool. But to be completely honest with you, very rarely do I wear plether anymore. It's usually like a black four-way stretch spandex. That'll really enhance your package. For all the guys out there wondering, get the four-way stretch, not the two way stretch. North, south, east, west stretch gives you great flexibility, mobility, and it makes your package look huge and chicks dig that. It's like a subliminal way to get pussy.

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