Preview: Steel Panther leads spandex revolution


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Put the words "metal band" and "Sunset Strip" together, and you pretty much know what to expect.

Steel Panther has no intentions of breaking the stereotype.

The LA band has it all -- big hair, bright spandex, garish logo and total glam-rock bombast a la Poison or vintage Van Halen.

The difference is none of those bands ever topped the Billboard Comedy Chart like Steel Panther did with its 2009 major-label debut, "Feel the Steel." It featured the hilarious anthem "Death to All But Metal," along with such deeper tracks as "Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)" and "Party All Day ([Expletive] All Night)."

Steel Panther

Where: Stage AE, North Shore.

When: Doors at 7 tonight.

Tickets: $25; www.ticketmaster.com.

Steel Panther is a metal parody band (or is it?) fronted by Michael Starr, whose track record includes stints with Route 66 (with Ratt drummer and Pittsburgh native Bobby Blotzer), L.A. Guns and Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks. Steel Panther -- also featuring guitarist Satchel, bassist Lexxi Foxx and drummer Stix Zadinia -- started out as Metal Shop and Metal Skool, and with the name change and record deal, it toured the UK with Def Leppard and Motley Crue, opened for Guns 'N Roses and played the Download Festival in England in 2012.

Tonight, the band arrives for its second Pittsburgh show, still touring on the late 2011 release "Balls Out." In advance, Foxx, the glammiest member of the band, filled us in on Steel Panther's heavy metal exploits.

So, how is your tour going so far?

Right now we're in New York City. It was great, because we got to play Boston. That was really cool. It was probably the highlight because I think those people needed a metal band to come in there and kick their ass. It was a lot of fun, but we're looking forward to coming to Pittsburgh because I think the last time was 2009. Hopefully we'll pack it out.

If you had a daughter, would you let her come to the show?

I would totally let her go to the show. But I just wouldn't let her have a backstage pass. I wouldn't let her get near any of them especially Stix, and Satchel, and Michael, because they like to ... yeah, I wouldn't let them come backstage.

They always say about your band, "There are those who get it, and those who don't." Who exactly doesn't get it?

Stupid people. Mostly people who are dumb and just don't like metal. People who probably listen to, like, Oingo Boingo and Hoobastank and [expletive] Natalie Imbruglia, stuff like that. Stupid people. Because if you know anything, [expletive] metal rules, and we're bringing back heavy metal. Probably "stupid people" would be my answer.

I noticed in the poster for Rocklahoma that Papa Roach and Bush are in bigger letters than Steel Panther. Your reaction?

It's a bummer, but at the same time, when we were writing our letters, I didn't know how big our letters and their letters would be. I wonder if they wrote their letters on purpose to be bigger than our letters. I think they just have bigger letters than we do. It doesn't really bum me out that they have bigger letters in their band name than we do. We're going to go out there and bring heavy metal back and I don't care if they have bigger letters or not.

Great. Is there a mix of love and hate when you play those festivals?

I don't think so. I don't see that anybody hates. ... The people who hate us just don't watch it and the people who like us do. Nobody's ever come up to me and said, "You look stupid in your long ...." [pause] Yeah, people said that. But they haven't specifically said, 'Hey, I hate your band.' It's more like, "Hey, dude, you look like a [expletive] sissy," "You look like a girl." It's more like that kind of stuff: "You're dumb, that's why you have blond hair because you're stupid." But they don't say mean things about the band, it's mostly just me, and those people are insecure and ignorant and they were raised by probably monkeys or wolves or something, you know.

You guys specialize in '80s metal. What do you think of metal like As I Lay Dying and Between the Buried and Me?

Well, so you mean the different kind of metal than we are? Well, metal is metal. Personally, I don't get all the screaming and hootin' and hollerin' and all that stuff. I don't listen to that type of music, but I still think it's pretty badass because it has all the heavy guitar riffs and stuff. Like Lamb of God and Machine Head, they have really cool guitar riffs.

And I know Randy [Blythe, of Lamb], and he's great, but I don't understand what he's saying when he's singing or yelling or anything. So, I can totally respect what their metal thing is, but I like bitchin' metal like Whitesnake where you see girls dancing on cars and you see wind blow into bitchin' dudes' hair. That's the kind of metal I like. More like the glam side than that I-hate-my-mom side.

I understand that there's kids all over the world who are in their bedroom and hating their parents. We're just trying to bring back the fun metal. A lot of these groups probably grew up without parents, that's the only thing I can imagine, and that's probably why they're so mean.

You've had a bunch of famous musicians jam with you. What are your favorite guest appearances?

I would have to say Chazz Kroeger from Nickelback. We call him Chazz because we're friends. It's always really cool, because I never listened to Nickelback that much, but then we got to be friends and now I listen to a little bit, because we were like, "Dude, we should collaborate." That's a long word. "We should start working together." "Dude, totally, that would be awesome." So we went to his house in Vancouver and totally put him in spandex. I was just bummed he cut his hair.

If you notice on Nickelback's latest record there's some metal things in there. So if we can turn anyone into doing heavy metal, that's awesome. And Justin Hawkins from The Darkness was really cool. He jammed on our last record. We're going to have a couple guest stars on our next record, and I don't know if I can tell you who they are, but he's in a band that rhymes with Mef Eppard, and I'm not getting give it away, but his name rhymes with Mivian Flampbell.

Got it. So, what's up with playing Chad Kroeger's wedding?

Yeah, yeah, we got tickets. I don't know what I'm going to wear, but we already have our tickets and everything like that. But the biggest thing is what I'm going to wear. Kind of like a Britny Fox meets Cinderella outfit is what I'm going to come up with.

You're working on a new album. Are you playing any of the songs on this tour?

No, no, we're not. We're just going to wait till the record comes out, but we have a song that we think we're going to release in late summer, early fall. It's a party song. It's the best party song we have so far. People have been wanting it to be in movies and stuff already, so we have to get it ready. It's almost mixed and mastered. But we have to wait till it gets on air because people will just tape it and sell it and we won't make any money. They'll be recording at our live show and play it for their friends and that's [b.s.].

Have you considered any rap collaborations?

We were going to hook up with Lil Jon and do something, but he was on "The Apprentice" or something like that, the Donald Trump show. We would always like to do something like Aerosmith did, get with bitchin' rappers. That would be totally badass. As of right now we don't have any plans. We just saw Snoop Dogg yesterday. He was in one of the same interview buildings we were at -- should've asked him then. He's badass-looking and he's so tall. I didn't know how tall he was. I wanted to give him a big hug.

So, are you coming to the show?

Yeah, I'll try to make it. And, uh, I'll bring my daughter.

Yes! Do that. Please.

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576; Twitter: scottmervis_pg.


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