The unknown can be intimidating because you don’t know what to expect, but sometimes the unexpected proves to be more exhilarating than the predictable. Here is where Steel Panther comes in. Instrumentally and vocally, the quartet of Steel Panther resembles the sounds of 80s rock n’ roll bands, but lyrically, there is no way to categorize them.
Steel Panther, which consists of vocalist, Michael Starr, guitarist, Satchel, bassist, Lexxi Foxxx and drummer, Stix Zadinia, released their debut album, “Feel The Steel”in 2009 via Universal Republic Records. Produced by Jay Ruston, “Feel The Steel” is a bold album that will have you questioning, did they just really say that? No need to doubt yourselves because they did. Oddly enough, the sexual, womanizing and vulgar remarks lighten the most darkly introspective music fan. There is plenty unique about Steel Panther, but what stands out is their ability to make crafted music that is both profane and therapeutic. Sometimes, everyone just needs a laugh.
You’ll get plenty of chuckles with Steel Panther’s latest release, “Balls Out”, which dropped November 1st via Universal Republic Records. The 14 track album features Dane Cook on the opener, “In The Future” and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and EXTREME axeman Nuno Bettencourt on “It Won’t Suck Itself”. The metal group is no stranger to celebrities. Frequently performing in Hollywood and Vegas, famed faces such as Kelly Clarkson, Criss Angel, Avril Lavigne, Tom Morello, Pink and many more have jammed with the band onstage.
Check out the interview below with Stix, where he chats about “Balls Out”, the celebrity that should have never opened her mouth and the ones he hopes to perform with.
Why did you guys title the album, “Balls Out”?
We chose the name “Balls Out” because it is just f*cking cool sounding. When you says “Balls Out” people know that you are not half assin’ it. When you go, “Hey dude, let’s go Balls Out, let’s just f*cking go for it.” It isn’t like, “Hey, let’s be careful.” We figured it described our name. It described our style of life. It described our music and everything we wanted this record to be.
The cover art is great too.
Thank you. We toyed around with a lot of different ideas for “Balls Out”. One of the concepts actually was that we were going to have a couple of girls laying in a bunch of balls, like balls, footballs, soccer balls and baseballs. We were on a conference call and I was like, “You know what dude, we just got to have a smokingly hot chick just holding a pair of steel balls and just being bitchin’.” On the first record, we had a picture of us. People were like “Why don’t you have a picture of you guys again?” If people don’t know what we look like and you look at this album, “Balls Out”, you are going to want to know what’s on it, no matter what.
How was it working with producer Jay Ruston again on this album?
It was great. The reason why we went back with Jay is because of the result we got with him on “Feel The Steel”. We work really well with Jay and he f*cking captures the essence of Steel Panther on records. He is phenomenal at what he does. When we did “Feel The Steel” with him, he wasn’t as popular as he is now as a producer, even though, he definitely had success. For the point we were at with our career and the point he was at in his career, I think it was the perfect match. Now, based on the work he did on “Feel The Steel”, he is getting phone calls left and right.
How do you think “Balls Out” differs lyrically and instrumentally from “Feel The Steel”?
Obviously, when we did “Feel The Steel”, we had songs that we had been playing at our shows. We play a lot. We play more than most bands. Satchel does most of the writing. We worked on a few songs and kind of infused them into the shows. We never even intended on getting a record deal. That was never part of the plan. When we did get the deal we were like, “Wow, alright, let’s go.” So, we had a long time to write those songs. With “Balls Out”, we knew we had a second record to do and Satchel had been writing a lot. We definitely wanted to cover musical bases within the genre of heavy metal. Our goal with “Balls Out” was to make a complete record or what we thought was a complete record, including something different, like a piano ballad on “Weenie Ride”. I think the fundamental difference without sounding douchy, which is impossible for me, is on “Feel The Steel”, there were a lot of riffs that were reminiscent of songs that you may or may not have heard that were popular in the 80s. I feel like “Balls Out” is way more of a complete Steel Panther record and more what we got to offer, take it or leave it.
When you guys are recording these songs. Does it take several takes to get through a track
We are pretty fast when we go in and record because we play live so much. We are really used to playing together. We did this in three batches. We did three, five song, batches because of our schedule with touring. We went in and we hammered out five songs and then Jay gets started on the mixing of those and then we go in for the next five and so on, for 15 tracks. We left off two tracks, “Do You Wanna Do Me” and “Handicap Slut”, which are actually on the Japanese release.
Are there any subjects that are off limits for you guys?
I think you can pretty much answer that one [Laughter].
Ya, you can tell there are no limits, but…
Well, I’ll tell you what we won’t do. We are not going to write a song about the state of politics. We are not going to write a song about a public service. We write songs about what we live. We write songs about what we believe and we believe in f*cking partying. We believe in metal and we believe in chicks. So, we got to write from our experience. There’s different bands out there that fill that spot to make a statement and our statement is, “Let’s just f*cking party.”
“Just Like Tiger Woods” is hilarious. Was this track written closer to when the scandal first came out?
It was written a little while after. We were just talking and we were like, “F*ck man, Tiger really is a rock star.” Whether or not he got caught f*cking all those chicks, it doesn’t make him a rock star. He is a rock star because he was an undercover rock star. Nobody knew just how slutty he was. When it all came out, it was like, somebody has got to write a tribute to him. What that dude did was not really that much different from what a lot of dudes do. He just got caught on a global scale. We figured, he got so much bad press, Steel Panther will definitely come to the rescue.
How was it working with Chad on “It Won’t Suck Itself”?
How did you guys initially meet up?
We do a weekly show in Hollywood and Vegas. We have a lot of artists come in because they either hear about our show or know about our show. Chad had come a few times onstage and Chad is a great f*cking sport. He gets what we do. We would always say, “Hey dude, we should write together.” He would say the same thing. He was off doing what he was doing and we were always off doing what we were doing. We couldn’t get together and then finally, we were up in Vancouver doing a couple of shows and he lives up there. He happened to be home at the time. We scheduled to go over to his pad, where he has got a f*cking hockey rink in his goddamn house. Literally, a hockey rink, ice hockey, not roller. He comes to the studio with a bar outside. It was really great. Chad is a super talented guy. It is not a fluke that he is really successful. I think a lot of people at first were like, “Steel Panther…Nickelback?”
He sounds great on the song.
He killed it and that song was a complete and total co-write. It wasn’t like we wrote and said, “Hey Chad, can you do this?” or vice versa. We came in with nothing. We had a majority of the song when we left his house that day. We went down to LA and tweaked on it a little bit and then sent it up to him to track his part. To have Nuno Bettencourt do the solo is the cherry on top. We ran into him again, at one of our shows, and he came and jammed with us. Satchel asked him to play on this and they worked it out. Nuno is Rihanna’s guitar player. So, he has been playing non heavy metal for a long time now. When he finally got the song, I think he may have passed out and woke up because he was shocked he got to play a heavy metal solo. He proceeded to just annihilate the solo.
Another favorite track of mine is “Why Can’t You Trust Me” with the jokes about Justin Bieber and Chris Brown. How up-to-date are you guys with the pop culture world?
We don’t intentionally pay attention to sh*t. When it is something as permeating as Chris Brown and you can’t turn the T.V. on without hearing about him hitting that chick in the face or a phenomenon, like Justin Bieber, you can’t help, but put them in one of your songs. It’s not like we are watching TMZ or EXTRA. We put people in our songs that we feel deserve it and that’s not in a bad way. Most people know that Chris Brown beat the sh*t out of Rihanna. It just fit the song. Charlie Sheen is mentioned in “Tomorrow Night”. Christopher Walken is mentioned in “Tomorrow Night”. Christopher Walken isn’t doing anything sensational in the media right now, but he is just b*tching, so we are singing about him.
Out of all the celebrities that came onstage with you, do you have a favorite or least favorite? Did one go completely wrong?
There are many times where they don’t quite get the jokes, but if people are getting onstage with us, generally speaking, they get it. I remember Jessica Simpson got onstage with us. She was hammered and she challenged our singer to a sing off, which was a bad, bad mistake because she proceeded to sound like she was murdering a cat.
I saw that video. Wasn’t Tony Romo on stage too?
Yup. He actually could sing better than Jessica Simpson.
Are there any celebrities you want to come onstage with you that hasn’t already? Top 5?
That’s a heavy-duty question right there. I’d say Jimmy Page. I’d say Ringo Starr. The reason why I am not saying a lot of them is because they already jammed with us. You know what? I want Justin Bieber to come onstage with us, just so I can hear if he can really sing. If Justin Bieber got onstage with us that would be really interesting to see what happened. So, to round off my five, I think Jimmy Page, Ringo Starr, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, who by the way, we met in Japan and she is a fan of ours. So, if she reads this interview, we would love to jam with her. I’d love to jam with James Hetfield.
That’s a solid Top 5.
Thank you, I appreciate that. [Laughter]
by Lonnie Nemiroff