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Interview:
Steel Panther at The Fillmore, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Steel Panther may play for laughs. But rest assured that what the group has done during the past eight years is no laughing matter.

From its days as the 80s metal parody band Metal Skool to Steel Panther's bawdy originals (let's just say "All You Can Eat" is not about a buffet), the quartet has built a devoted following and fed it with three studio albums, a live acoustic set (this year's "Live From Lexxi's Mom's Garage") and even a Christmas single ("Sexy Santa").

After a run opening for Judas Priest last year Michael Starr (real name Ralph Saenz) and company have been back to all Panther, all the time. That will yield a new album, "Lower The Bar," in February, but for now the group is not wanting for hardly wanting for material to keep its fans humored -- and headbanging -- into the holiday season...

Steel Panther has freshened the set for its latest run, with an assortment of "gems" for fans who like the deep cuts. "We don't leave out the songs people have grown accustomed to and really connect to, but we changed up the whole set," Starr, 51, says by phone from Cleveland -- where he's stopped on the street to take cell phone photos with fans. "We try to make everybody happy to come see it, then we try to switch up a few of the songs. We pulled a song out from the deluxe package of 'All You Can Eat' that was only song at Best Buy, an acoustic alternate version of the song. That's a highlight of the show, I guess."

Set list demands aside, Steel Panther is happy to have a growing body of work to draw from for its shows. "It's pretty amazing," Starr says. "Most bands don't make it this far. And most, if they do make it this far, aren't able to do the stuff we're doing. So we're very grateful, very excited. We don't take it for granted, either; We work very hard at our craft, and we love our job -- although if I knew how much work went into making my dream come true, I don't know if this would've been my first dream. I probably would've been a drug dealer."

Starr says the best part about Steel Panther's success is how it's been generated. "It's all generated by word of mouth and the Internet," he explains. "We get some airplay in some markets, but for the most part it's all word of mouth, which I think is the best recommendation to see a live act. When a buddy says to you, 'You've got to see this band,' you're gonna trust that more than an ad on a radio station or something."

To tide fans over until the new album, Steel Panther has recorded and released a cover of Cheap Trick's "She's Tight." "I grew up in Chicago and Cheap Trick was a big deal when I was a teenager. They were huge," Starr says. "They were my mom's favorite band; My mom passed away a couple of years back, so it's kind of a tribute to her. Stix (Zadinia), our drummer, is a huge Cheap Trick fan as well as Lexxi (Foxx) and Satchel. It's a fun song, and it's kind of celebrating everything that helped us along the way; IF it wasn't for all the cover music we played throughout our career trying to get a record deal, we wouldn't have one."

So what can we expect from the new "Lower The Bar?" album? "There's something for everybody on 'Lower The Bar,'" Starr promises. "I think we've expanded. Our style is still the same formula, I guess, but we've changed it up a bit. I could say that we used to sing about (women) and partying; now we're singing about partying and (women), but the reality is we did switch up a few things. It's a really solid, fun, intelligent party record. We're just maturing as a band after being on the road for years together and living together. It shows."

Steel Panther

Saturday, Dec. 3. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $20-$40.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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