“It’s the most exciting time of my life”
An exclusive Metal Sludge interview with Steel Panther singer Michael Starr
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
HOLLYWOOD — Steel Panther is a success story for the ages. What started as a parody act that made fun of hair-metal bands has evolved into a bigger attraction than nearly all the groups Steel Panther had needled in the first place.
Led by singer Michael Starr – whose real name is Ralph Saenz, a veteran of the Sunset Strip who had never got that one lucky break – Steel Panther now has a bunch of hits of their own like “Death To All But Metal,” “Community Property” and “Asian Hooker,” releasing four albums (three through major label Universal) and succeeding on tour on a massive scale including an appearance before 100,000 spectators at the Download Festival.
Steel Panther has a new record coming out called “All You Can Eat” and a fantastic new video, “Party Like It’s the End of the World,” which you can see below.
With lots of talent including guitarist Satchel, drummer Stix Zadinia and bassist Lexxi Foxxx, Steel Panther is at the pinnacle of success with a worldwide tour planned including a long series of dates in Europe.
For many years, Steel Panther played every Monday night at House of Blues, establishing themselves as the most successful house band in Sunset Strip history. But that was only the beginning. Steel Panther is getting bigger and bigger.
The band has always been close with Metal Sludge – in essence, it’s a match made in heaven – and Starr, always in a good mood, granted us an exclusive interview.
METAL SLUDGE: Hey Michael Starr, I see there are big plans for Steel Panther.
MICHAEL STARR: Yeah. We’re getting ready for a tour in December with Buck Cherry and Fozzy. We’ll be the headliner, of course. We’re doing that tour, coming back, then doing a two-month European tour.
SLUDGE: You’re very popular in England. I guess I know why – Brits always have a great sense of humor.
STARR: That’s true. They usually do. So does Australia. Also, we just sold out a show in Kansas City, 3,500 tickets.
SLUDGE: I guess the most interesting thing of all about Steel Panther is that you started out doing parody covers of all these big bands, kind of a tribute thing, and now you not only have your own material, but you’re bigger than just about all the bands you were first paying tribute to. You can’t make up a story like this – it’s incredible.
STARR: That’s a nice thing to say. I’ve got to tell ya, in a lot of ways we’re just like every other band that starts out doing covers. The difference for us is how much fun we had doing it.
SLUDGE: It is a good time. You have a unique niche. It’s very entertaining.
STARR: Fuck yeah. We make jokes and we make fun, then we fuck chicks. It’s great, yes it is.
SLUDGE: Wait. I thought you were married. Didn’t I see a wedding ring?
STARR: I was married to this one girl, but I got a divorce. We don’t have anyone in this band who is married, and no one has kids, and no one has ever gone to rehab.
SLUDGE: You’ve got a new song and new video, “Party Like It’s The End of The World.” It’s great, and the video is amazing.
STARR: Thank you. You have good taste.
SLUDGE: There is a scene where you and porn star Ron Jeremy are snorting coke off a woman’s bare tits. Is that pushing it too far?
STARR: Nah. Ron Jeremy has claimed he has never done drugs in his life, but as you can see clearly from the video, that’s not the case. That was really fun. I was just totally bummed we did all the cocaine.
SLUDGE: Whose house did you do the video at? You answer the front door in the beginning, is that your house?
STARR: No, we rented that house for the video from a company that rents out location shoots.
SLUDGE: Ah, so your house is even bigger?
STARR: No, no. I’m getting ready to move out of my mom’s apartment in North Hollywood, but yeah, when I do get one, it will be pretty big. (laughs)
SLUDGE: Why do you think Steel Panther has caught on so big the way it has?
STARR: Well, I think it’s because we have fun, and also because we engage the audience. Everyone has charisma, and that’s infectious on stage. It rocks, and plus I think the audience really appreciates the outfits. Not many bands are still wearing the stuff we wear. It’s a fun, party atmosphere, and that’s what we bring.
SLUDGE: You’re playing New Year’s Eve in Canada. That is going to be one heck of party, right?
STARR: Yeah, we’re doing two nights actually, and both nights are sold-out.
SLUDGE: The band came from humble beginnings. You played in L.A. Guns for a short time but never really made it big by the time you first started Metal Shop, which morphed into Steel Panther.
STARR: Yeah, at first we were just trying to get a gig and make a few bucks during the grunge movement, but I never stopped writing music and stuff. Our first indie song was on a Metal Sludge compilation. We were just hoping to keep working at that point. I had no idea it would be this big.
SLUDGE: How much fun are you having? Is this a dream come true?
STARR: It’s the most exciting time in my life. We’re signed, we’re putting out records and making videos, and we’re touring the world. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do in my life, finally. We’re on VH1 with a new video, and for us that’s a big deal. We’re the oldest, newest band ever. I’m going to have to make another Facebook profile pretty soon.
SLUDGE: Who is your most loyal fan ever?
STARR: I would have to say it’s a woman named Pam. She’s like 6-foot-2, not that attractive, pretty heavy. She’s been coming to shows every Monday night for like forever.
SLUDGE: I can never tell if you’re being serious.
STARR: I am, I am. For the longest time until just recently, she was always in the front row, and if girls would get in her way, she’s punch ‘em in the face. I guess she thought she was a guy.
SLUDGE: We have got to talk about tits. You have seen a lot of naked breasts with Steel Panther. Girls are always jumpin’ on stage and taking off their shirts.
STARR: I love it. You’re right, I’ve seen so many sets of tits that I know just the ones I like the most – the fake ones. For some guys, the tits is their favorite part of the show, but not every show is like that but sometimes, like in France, we’ve had like 20 girls on stage at the same time with their tits out. You just never know.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at [email protected]