Stix Zadinia discusses the band’s great new record, On the Prowl, and upcoming tour, then takes a trip back to the mid-eighties, before cell phones and social media, when sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll were more than an Ian Dury and The Blockheads song or a Denis Leary television show… it was a way of life. Read about it all at your own risk.
Low-brow, crass, misogynistic, outrageous, controversial and offensive: just a few of the terms used by critics to describe Steel Panther. For those who appreciate the band, however, the quartet are a dream come true, a pitch-perfect parody of the eighties’ Hollywood / Sunset Strip metal scene that produced Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Poison, and Mötley Crüe.
It’s not just that drummer Stix Zadinia, guitarist Satchel, frontman Michael Starr, and bassist Spyder adopted the big hair and spandex look, but their clever and explicit songs recall the over-indulgent debauchery of the times. Definitely not for the kiddies, tales of womanizing, drug abuse, and other hair metal tropes, along with boasts about the power of heavy metal, have become sing-along anthems at their equally entertaining live shows. Ironically, the band possess so much talent that had they been around during the heyday of the eighties and composed radio-friendly lyrics, they might have been among the biggest artists in the world. Instead, as of February 24, fans were be treated to Steel Panther’s modern dose of metal mayhem. On the Prowl features 13 new songs with such highlights as “Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight),” “Pornstar” and “Magical Vagina,” while “1987,” perhaps the album’s best track, laments the foregone era Steel Panther are satirically trapped in.
Steel Panther’s On the Prowl tour includes special guests Tragedy and Crobot, all together invading our area with three shows: NYC’s Irving Plaza on March 16, Philly’s Keswick Theatre on March 17 and Sayreville, NJ’s Starland Ballroom on March 18. Today, however, the man and myth that is Stix is sitting at home with his feline companion, Boo Cat, on his lap, taking a brief moment away from writing, recording, and getting “last minute things done” before heading off on tour.
What are the members of Steel Panther ‘On the Prowl’ for?
The members of Steel Panther are on the prowl for the return of heavy metal, the conquest of vagina, and the search for the ultimate party.
How does the new Steel Panther album differ from the band’s previous classics?
I am proud of our studio albums one through five. For each of those we used a similar process. We created this one, however, at our [respective homes]. We produced it ourselves and it’s hard to pinpoint or to put it into words, but I believe On the Prowl has a different spirit about it. I don’t know if it’s the nature of bands, but when you start a band, you’re excited, and then you do your first record and you empty your blood, sweat, and tears into it. Then you do your second one and you want to top your first. As you continue, you experience different phases of a career. There comes a time, however, when a band will put something out and fans will say, “Ok, this sounds cool, but it really isn’t killing me.” On the Prowl has the same feel as our first or second record. That’s not to say we didn’t put our heart and soul into every other record we’ve recorded, but this one is an adventure, a party.
Perhaps, some of that fresh energy comes from new bassist Spyder?
It’s not only reflected on the album, but there seems to be a new breath of life in Steel Panther, which could very well be [from] Spyder. And it feels like in these times, when everyone is so sensitive, it feels like [Steel Panther’s records and live shows are] even more of a valuable place for people to be their freakish selves.
Although I am a Steel Panther fanatic, I also appreciate the band’s detractors. It makes understanding who the band are and what they are about all that more special.
The ‘Pussy Melter’ guitar pedal is a classic example. Without someone calling us out about its name, we never would have created it or gotten attention for it. The detractors bring more attention to Steel Panther than our supporters – and then our supporters get even more amped up and protective of the band.
It’s like coming of age during the eighties and being into heavy metal: you were part of a special group and felt you were into this magical thing that others had yet to discover.
es, you were in the club and when others joined you could brag, “I already knew this.”
Now that Steel Panther are about to head out on a world tour, what are its members most looking forward to?
Playing new songs live. And Steel Panther has gotten to a place where we know how to tour. We know how to balance partying with putting on the greatest show on earth. Touring can go one of two ways: it can become grueling and miserable or extremely fun and extremely rewarding, which is where we are.
This March, Steel Panther will be performing in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. What are your fondest memories of touring in the Northeast?
Those three states are so close together, yet their accents are distinctly different. I love going into New York City and I love going out of the city, but I could never live there. It’s too intense for me, but I do love that it’s 24/7; when you are partying, there is no closing down.
A comedian recently joked that traveling through the United States was like traveling through 50 small countries. Yes, perhaps, but heavy metal unifies.
Yes! You can’t tell the difference when looking out onto each crowd, and I mean that the best way possible. No matter where you play, everyone checks their cool at the door and just parties. If you are a curmudgeon, a party bummer, or a joy killer, do not come to any of our shows.
One heavy metal band’s leader gifted weight scales to his bandmates before a world tour. It was his way of telling his fellow band’s members to get their respective acts together. Were Steel Panther faced with any recent concerns?
I also gave scales to each of the guys, but it wasn’t for their body weight. It was to make sure they all had the proper amount of substances. I want everyone to come prepared. The last thing I want is any of those guys asking me for anything.
Before touring, Steel Panther have one positive concern: with so many classics songs to choose from, it must be nearly impossible to put together a crowd-pleasing set list.
That is a real problem, ‘cause you have a finite amount of time to perform. We have six fucking albums to choose from and all of our fans have their favorites. There are certainly songs that rise to the top like “Community Property,” “Tiger Woods,” “Asian Hooker,” and “Death To All But Metal.” Then “17 Girls in a Row” is a great moment during each show where we bring all these girls on stage, but it’s still tough. The songs are like your kids and you can only pick a certain amount of your kids to go on the trip. Everything else comes down to how you want to present the tour. We want to mix it up, but we don’t want to disappoint anyone.
There must be songs you’ve grown tired of playing night after night.
Actually, no. Because they are all songs we’ve written – we never use ghost writers – and they still feel natural and fun for me. I feel lucky playing live with this band.
There are so many potential hits on On the Prowl. Were any of the new tracks inspired by anything special?
You recognize melodies in the music and if you actually put in lyrics that could be played on the radio, they could be hits. All of our songs come from real places. There are super colorful descriptions of events. Things may be embellished a little bit, but every song was inspired by something that actually happened to one of us.
Will there ever be a Steel Panther biography or film similar to Motley Crue’s The Dirt?
We’ve spoken about doing a film project or a book, but I want to do that down the road, more towards the end. I think we’re just hitting our stride and we are now in our prime.
With careful tweaking and edits, “Magic Vagina” could be a huge hard rock radio hit.
I agree. The chorus is so infectiously catchy, celebratory, and invigorating, I can imagine a festival-sized crowd singing along and waving their hands.
That is one of the litmus tests when we’re writing and recording songs. [We ask ourselves], “Is it going to rock a festival?” And that song will be amazing to play live.
How did Dweezil Zappa come to appear on “Is My Dick Enough”?
He had an advertisement on the OnlyFans site… only kidding! Dweezil is friends with our guitarist Satchel. We didn’t have any guests on On the Prowl and Satchel said, “You know who would be really cool to get?” So we called him and he was super accommodating. He’s an amazing guitar player.
What was so special about the year “1987” that Steel Panther dedicated a song to it?
The opening lyric says it all.
‘Appetite for Destruction.’
Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake’s biggest album, no cell phones, the women, the partying – it was the height of debauchery for us. It was our Woodstock. It was our peak. We were young enough for it to have no consequences, but not old enough to know better. It was the art of meeting girls and the art of trying to be the coolest band you could be in. It was such a fun time.
Throughout New York City and Long Island, there was a metal scene in 1987 with dozens and dozens of clubs where guys and girls dressed the part and we all felt like we were part of the club.
You would see like-minded people and you knew they were into the same things you were into. It was a community and it was very cool to be part of it.
Unfortunately, so many of our rock heroes from that era have succumbed to their vices, victims of their own overindulgence.
I think I figured out why that is so commonplace. When you go on tour, every night there are people telling you – whether with smiles or applause – that you are great. You get a rush from that adulation. You get your ego stroked and it makes you feel like a king. When you get home and you’re scooping up cat shit, there’s garbage to throw out and dishes piling up in the sink, you find yourself thinking, “Where is the rush? Where is the adrenaline?” You wonder why you are not feeling differently, so, drugs – which I personally love – are a great way to make you feel that. Some people overshoot that mark looking for that rush. People have to know how to weave in and out of real life and fantasy. On the road, it’s not real life. If you get home and expect every day to still feel like a concert, you are dumb.
While on tour, some musicians will take college courses just to avoid falling back into former vices.
I get it. There are those who hit the switch and cannot turn it off. I am lucky to have been born with a natural governor. I like to let loose as often as possible, but if there is shit that needs to get handled, I make sure it gets handled.
I know a person whose job was to watch over famous musicians who were newly sober. He would be with them from the time they awakened to make sure they did not score drugs and relapse.
Boredom is one of the biggest killers of all. They’re not feeling that sensation or rush and decide to kill the boredom.
Many of the survivors of that era are now in poor shape. Some believe it is still “1987.”
At a certain point you have to grow. I love going out and having a good time, but you have to know your limitations.
Many of our rock heroes have gone bald, including David Lee Roth. Are the members of Steel Panther worried about losing their luscious locks?
No one in Steel Panther is worried about losing his hair. There is always Hair Club for Men… and if we did lose our hair, we could always wear wigs.
One of the few Hollywood Strip bands to survive the eighties: teetotalers Stryper. Does it infuriate you that those who have stayed on the straight and narrow are experiencing success all of these years later?
No. They are part of the heavy metal community, which includes (or used to include) everyone from Slayer to Stryper. I am super down with anyone who continues to make it in this business, because it’s not easy. Heavy metal bands are not making more money because we no longer sell records. If you have the fortitude and wherewithal to keep going, I have nothing but respect for you.
After, hopefully, many years, when you depart this mortal coil and head off to your reward, will there be a statue in your honor like Lemmy’s at The Whiskey or Dio’s at his gravesite?
I don’t know if I will have made as big an impact as those guys, but if there is a statue in my honor, it will be of two drumsticks. The inscription will read, “Stix was here. He came, he partied, he left.”
Steel Panther have released four guitar pedals, including the new 1987. Are the band hoping to help usher in a new age of rock guitar gods?
If we can inspire a kid to pick up a guitar in this day and age – the aspirations of being a rock star are so different from 1987 – I would love nothing more than being able to help spread the love of music, the joy of creating music and that feeling of being in a band with teammates; that platform to affect people and get pussy.
When I would go to parties as a kid and I would see a piano, I would always start playing. The ladies would soon migrate towards me and I quickly realized, “If you play music, you will get ladies.” If we can inspire someone to play guitar, write music, and join the heavy metal community, then I am super down with it.
After six amazing albums and so many successful tours, are the members of Steel Panther itching to do outside projects? Will we eventually see a Stix Zadinia solo album or a Satchel side-project supergroup?
We are Steel Panther to the core, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of us [recorded] a solo record. We love this band, we love music, and we love jamming with people. We all write music; just because you are in one band doesn’t exclude you from doing other stuff.
When Steel Panther were playing residencies at various Hollywood Strip rock clubs, did you ever envision becoming this successful?
You have hopes, aspirations, and you visualize where you want to go. When we started, our goal was to become an international touring band. When we were doing our residencies, we were only performing cover songs, which was great. Our goal was to put on the best show possible. We added our own songs and then put out our own EP. We did not have world domination aspirations at that point. Then Universal Music approached us with a record deal. We were not even looking for a record deal. Once we put our debut out, we headed to the UK to play the Download Festival. The turnout and the reaction were unbelievable. That’s when we asked ourselves, “Hold on. What do we want to get out of this?” And that is when that goal was set. This path we’ve been on has been incredibly organic. We got out of our record deal with Universal after Balls Out, they were very good to us, and we have since brought everything inhouse. We are paving a road as we go, but there is no lane to follow. Steel Panther is just this anomaly that keeps going.
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