The guys in Steel Panther have been carrying the hair metal torch in one form or another since the early 2000s and are set to mark the apocalypse Friday at the House of Blues. Lead singer and Chicago native, Michael Starr talks to IE about the genre, the ladies, and the end of the world.
IE: It’s been a wild couple of years on the road for you guys since the 2011 release of Balls Out. What is it about heavy metal that keeps the band pushing so hard?
Michael Starr: We all have the same objective and the same goal: that’s to be the biggest heavy metal band in the world. So, having that goal, it’s kinda like a football team, you know? They all want to win the Super Bowl. We coach ourselves up for it and we take direction from other people, but we also run the plays we wanna run. You know what I mean? We play what we wanna play. Fuck radio. Fuck everything else. And we just stick to our guns. It’s been great. Playing together for so long, you know, we can pretty much play with our eyes closed, with our hands tied behind our backs and it sounds better than most bands.
IE: But is it all about the music?
MS: Mostly it’s the pussy, but also it’s the party atmosphere that encompasses the whole fucking deal. It really is about having fun and we really do have fun doing it. I think that’s what people really gravitate to. You know, we fuck around and we joke around, but we really genuinely have fun playing heavy metal. My dad was into heavy metal, my mom was a stripper and it’s like, it’s just been my life, I love it.
IE: Your new video, “British Invasion,” came out in October to positive reviews, healthy sales, and a trip to the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Music Video chart.
MS: “British Invasion” was a two-year process. We filmed that concert back in 2010 and it took that long to get it out because we added a bunch of footage. We added download footage and documentary, but we ran into a bunch of legal problems with the record label and [producer] Dan Catullo’s company. They had to iron out royalties and all that kinda stuff. Once we got it all ironed out it just happened to fall right in place with our tour. So we were able to come out, do our tour of Australia and do our tour Europe with the release of the DVD. It fucking worked out great.
IE: Steel Panther is currently leading in Loudwire‘s poll for 2012’s Live Act of the Year ahead of the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Rob Zombie.
MS: That’s the shit that’s surreal. Coming from where we came from, a cover band, play at the Viper Room every Monday, to being included with those bands. It’s fucking awesome.
IE: Along with the friendly reviews for the video, your last disc also got some positive press. Does the “critical” success mean that much to the band?
MS: It’s cool. It’s like going into a party where there’s a bunch of hot chicks and they all want to fuck you. And before, we’d go into a party and there’s just a couple that would want to fuck us. You know what I mean? That’s what it’s like. It really feels good; it feels empowering. But you know the bummer is my mom still wants rent.
IE: Your live shows are described as more of party than just a concert.
MS: Yeah, I think what really helped us out was in our early years, we played a lot of back yard parties, like a kegger party. We just took that party and continued it. And now we can bring it to a big stage. It’s been quite a transition for us, playing in front of bigger audiences. Because at first we weren’t used to it and it was hard to connect. But now we’ve learned you have to talk a little slower, you have to really work the whole crowd. But I think we’ve got it now and we’re able to bring in 5,000 people and make it feel like we’re connected in some way. We’re going to Australia next year and we’ll be doing arenas. Now we really have to work on bringing that all into one party.
IE: Friday night’s show at the House of Blues marks your return to Chicago and a possible end of the world. Did you think about things potentially ending for you where it all started?
MS: Well that’s been my dream. I want to go out the way I came in. Hopefully I’ll be having sex with a chick when it happens. As long as I can go out of this world, have it end, in Chicago, the hometown where I was born, I mean that’s pretty cool. But I really have a feeling that the world’s not going to end ’cause we’re not done.
IE: What’s something you like to do when you get some time back home?
MS: Normally, if it’s summer, I’ll go to the beach. But in the winter, I like to cruise back to where I grew up. I grew up at 110th and Western. And I like to go back to the school I went to and I like to get high around there because it reminds me of when I was little. There’s a place called Fox’s Pizza at like 107th and Western. I like to get a pizza there and a pitcher of beer because that pizza is the fucking best.
Tickets are still available for the Shock Top Presents Earth’s Last Stand featuring Steel Panther on Friday at House of Blues.
Q&A by Rob LaFrentz