On The Line with Michael Starr of Steel Panther

To quote Corey Taylor, “Best concert I ever attended was Steel Panther. I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but pound for pound, they are the most fun, the most energetic, and musically, they’re so good.” And he’s right. Steel Panther has a stage presence like you have never seen before and the band’s frontman, Michael Starr, is a one of a kind frontman. I had the exciting opportunity to speak with Michael about the band’s newest album, why Steel Panther is a great live band, a new project in the works, and more!

Alex Obert: What is it like waking up everyday being Michael Starr? What’s it like living the dream?

Michael Starr: It’s pretty cool, man. It’s like waking up when I was a kid in high school, I didn’t have responsibilities, I don’t have any homework to do, I don’t really care about anything except finding out what chick’s gonna be with me. I get to rock. I got to jam when I was a little kid, I’d get up, go in the garage and start playing Smoke on the Water. It’s really a great life. I totally enjoy it. And one thing that’s really important is that I’m extremely grateful for it. To be able to live like I did when I was a teenager at forty nine, pretty awesome, dude. I wake up, do whatever the fuck I want. Like right now, I’m in Myrtle Beach, Florida, walking on the beach, dude. It’s pretty awesome.

Alex Obert: How do you live everyday like tomorrow is the end of the world?

Michael Starr: Like I’m doing right now, man. Steel Panther, we’re like the Portland Trailblazers, no one expected us to even get to where we’re at. So if I were to die tonight, the last night I ever had, I’d be totally fine. I would just live my life the way I’m living it right now. The way I live my life is like I just have fun as much as I can. But occasionally I’ll get stressed out in life, I’ll get on the bus and there’s no Doritos. It freaks me out. And I gotta remember to hit the truck stop, we’ll get the cheese Doritos, Cool Ranch, go to Taco Bell and get a Cool Ranch taco.

Alex Obert: What would you say are the best parts about being in Steel Panther?

Michael Starr: I would say one of the cool things is we get free beer and shit, free Red Bull. And now that we’re older, we get Diet Red Bull, Sugar Free Red Bull. It has less calories. And then free drugs is pretty cool. You have to be careful when you take drugs from people for free because some people don’t like heavy metal and they like to give you drugs that will kill you. Lexxi took what was supposed to be Oxycontin and I don’t think it was, it was a roofie. He was out for two days. You’ve gotta be careful.

Alex Obert: I’d love to discuss a couple songs off of All You Can Eat and get your thoughts on them. The first one is Ten Strikes You’re Out.

Michael Starr: Everybody that’s asked about that song says this, “There’s always three strikes in baseball.” This isn’t baseball. Heavy metal’s a completely different sport. It’s a league that not many people get into. And the reason there’s ten strikes is because girls fuck up all the time. If you were the only dude with a three strike rule with girls, you’d be lonely. I’ll just say that. Girls can be annoying, we all know, and it takes a lot of alcohol for this relationship that you’re having with this girl for the next hour and a half to be lucrative. So you give them ten strikes. The inspiration behind that song is that being in a relationship ourselves, we’ve ignored these red flags and gotten into relationships where it’s like, “Oh my God. What the fuck am I doing? This bitch is annoying as fuck! But I’m still with her! Why am I still with her?” You have to really sit down and think about why you’re with her. Okay, she’s got an apartment, she’s got a car you can use, and I get to fuck her friends. You have to weigh all those things out to see if it’s worth it. Once you get to ten strikes, you gotta roll.

Alex Obert: The next song is If I Was the King.

Michael Starr: Yeah, I love that song. Just to have the ability to rule a country or a nation. I think that would be pretty rad. Obviously it’s outlandish what I’m talking about though. Not gonna outlaw all clothes for chicks. It’d probably be uncomfortable walking around naked all the time. But it’d be awesome to be in control. Imagine getting rid of all the grunge bands and bringing all the heavy metal bands back and only having heavy metal festivals and bands that like to rock. And then we can create some stem cells to make girls of our liking and just have them at the merch booth for sale at our shows. There’s so many things you can do with it.

Alex Obert: Regarding a live show, what do you feel are the most important factors in being a frontman?

Michael Starr: I would say the most important, number one, top, double A, one, one, one would be charisma. For people that don’t really understand how charisma relates to a lead singer, it’s really simple. You have to be able to tell a story, look them in the eye, get them engaged in what you’re talking about, get them engaged in what you’re singing about, and you have to have the ability to make people feel like you care about what they think. And it’s not easy. It takes a lot of work and it’s definitely a gift from Heaven, I think. It’s hard, people expect it. I’ll be walking on a beach and people expect me to engage them and I don’t have it, I’m off right now. I’m just walking and doing this interview. It’s a burden dude. It’s a burden being wonderful.

Alex Obert: I interviewed Dane Cook recently about performing on stage with Steel Panther. Who do you hope will one day perform on stage with you?

Michael Starr: It’d be cool to have Steve Perry from Journey. That would be cool. Why do I say that? About two years ago, we had Steve-O and Sebastian Bach get on stage and sing Don’t Stop Believin’ with us. It was cool. It was Sebastian Bach. It’s killer! It’s Skid Row. And it’s Steve-O. It’s killer. But it would be really cool to actually have Steve Perry come out of his hibernation hole, get out, grab the mic and bust out some Separate Ways with us. That would be fuckin’ awesome. And it would be cool to have Dane sing backup.

Alex Obert: Recently you did some shows with Fozzy and bonded with them. They’re very high on you guys now.

Michael Starr: Fozzy, fuck yeah! Great band. Great dudes. We befriended each other in Australia, we were on tour together. It was Fozzy, then Buckcherry, then Steel Panther. It was a great tour. We got to know everybody. They played me some of their music from the new upcoming record and I asked if I could sing on a song. They said yes, which was really cool. So I sang on a song called Tonight. It was great. And one thing I learned from Chris is always get grilled chicken backstage. I went backstage and I saw him having a plate full of grilled chicken breast and I was like, “Where the fuck’d you get that?” He’s like, “Ah man, I put it on my ride otherwise they’re gonna give me fucking deli meat which is full of salt and I get bloated before the show. I don’t look as good as I could.” Damn! So I stole that. Now we get grilled chicken backstage.

Alex Obert: Did you hear the he broke the news that Steel Panther will be on Talk Is Jericho?

Michael Starr: Oh yeah, dude! We did that like two weeks ago. We’re excited for that. We had some great conversations that I can’t wait for people to hear.

Alex Obert: And I’m hearing about a TV show in the works for Steel Panther.

Michael Starr: Oh dude, it’s so laboring, dealing with this fucking TV show. Getting a record deal, I thought that was hard. It’s like finding a golden nugget the size of your balls. It’s really, really hard to get a record deal, but it’s even harder to procure a TV deal. There’s so much going on with it. So where we’re at with it, we are in negotiations to start shooting. That’s where we’re at. We’ve been in negotiations to start shooting episodes for about a year now. It’s like dating a retarded chick, are we gonna fuck or not? Either fuck or get out of bed. Our show’s gonna be based on what people don’t know about Steel Panther because there’s a lot of awareness that could be raised about Steel Panther. And I think people will be engaged when they get a chance to see what we’re all about. People hear about us, they know our names, and this way, they can see what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on in Australia, see how we actually live our life. I think it’ll be pretty rad.

We’ve spent Monday nights on the strip for fourteen years and that’s the longest running heavy metal show in the history of Hollywood. So we were thinking that we deserve a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Part of the journey with Steel Panther will be us getting that star. Gotta fight the cause!

Alex Obert: We discussed Fozzy, but you’re also good friends with Corey Taylor. How did that relationship begin?

Michael Starr: That started back in ’99/2000. We used to play The Viper Room, Sunset Strip, every Monday. Monday nights are a great night for people that are in the industry to go out because there’s really nothing going on. So any band that was coming through touring or recording, they all would come to our show. Corey was a dude who would come to our show all the time. This is when he had long hair to his shoulders, he looked like a fuckin’ ragdoll. Then he’d get up and he’d just jam. It’d be weird, I’d hear, “Corey Taylor from Slipknot’s enjoying it! Get him up to jam!” We’d get him on stage, “Dude, what do you wanna jam?” “Nothin’ but a Good Time by Poison!” What?! We’d go into the song, fuckin’ killed it. That guy is a great singer and we became great friends, we’d hang out a lot and do that. And we got to know each other, once we became a touring band, we’d be on the same festivals and hang out. He had his wedding reception at our show in Vegas.

Alex Obert: What do you have to say to readers who have never been to a Steel Panther show that would want to go?

Michael Starr: The thing about Steel Panther is we are not a radio band, I say this in a lot of interviews. And it’s not because radio doesn’t wanna play us, it’s because radio’s afraid to play us and I understand it. The way Steel Panther gets people to know who we are is by press like you and word of mouth. We have people that are fans already tell their friends, “Hey, gotta check this band out They’re really cool!!” And usually they’ll come to a show with a friend that’s never seen the show before. And when we come out, like I said before, in all our glory, getting ready to rock in spandex, I can see the people that have never seen us before. They’re not engaged at that moment, they’re just standing there with their mouths open like, “What the fuck am I looking at right now?” But by the end of the show, their girl will be on stage showing their boobs. So what you can expect is to have a good time. If you’re a person that’s depressed and always bummed out and prefer it to rain, go to a fuckin’ Pearl Jam show.

Alex Obert: I’d like to thank you so much for your time.

Michael Starr: Alright, dude. I appreciate it, man!

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