Steel Panther’s Feel The Steel could be described as the soundtrack to the end of my summer.
I rediscovered the album in August, immediately showed it to a friend, and together we must have listened to the entire album no fewer than a hundred times. Everything we did, we did for them, constantly quoting the album, interviews, stage banter from live performance footage. We were all about the Panther.
So, when I found out Steel Panther were coming to the Gramercy Theater in New York City, we knew we had to go (They’re coming back on January 4). A few emails and phone calls later, we were in, and I was scheduled to interview their guitarist, Satchel.
Fast forward to one recent Tuesday night, and there we are, sitting on a couch in the Gramercy, waiting. I have some questions written up, and I’m not sure at all what kind of responses I’m going to get. I look behind me and there’s the band’s vocalist, Michael Starr, talking with staff. The voice of all the hilarious-yet-kickass songs we’d been blasting for months, right there.
Soon the band’s publicist whisks us off. “Satchel’s ready for you.”
We walk to the backstage area and out comes Satchel, casually dressed in jeans, cowboy boots and a black T-shirt. My friend Zack and I introduced ourselves, to which he responded, “Zack and Nick! All right, kick ass! Let’s do this!”
GUITAR WORLD: On Feel the Steel and Balls Out I can pick out moments where it’s almost like you’re paying tribute to a lot of big '80s bands. “Tomorrow Night” from Balls Out has a heavy Shotgun Messiah/Heartbreak Blvd. feel, and that’s a band I feel really didn’t get as much attention as they deserve. Were you ever a big Harry Cody fan?
He was a great guitar player, and that riff you’re talking about, that rhythm riff, that totally gave me that vibe too.
Very Heartbreak Blvd-esque, I thought.
Oh yeah, and that was, fuckin’, you know, their biggest song. Good ear, bro! Kid knows his metal!
I wouldn’t be here interviewing you if I only knew Motley Crue and Poison.
(To Zack, who’s recording the interview) Fuckin’ proud of this guy! I mean I’m old enough to be his dad, so that shit makes me happy. Granddad, for that matter.
You know, you claim to be, like, 53 on your Twitter …
No, see other people say I’m 53, but, uh, I can’t say my real age ...
Yeah, I can’t find your age anywhere.
It’s hard to find.
Either way, there’s no way you’re 53. You’re definitely not looking it.
I try not to let that get out there because… yeah, thank you! You know, I work out a lot and I fuckin’, like, drink a lot of water, and uh, do a lot of hardcore drugs, so uh—
Zack: Well, how else are you gonna stay looking so cool?
Satchel: Exactly! And I mean, I never do interviews unless the lights are kinda low like this, that way you can’t see the crow’s feet and shit. You always have to put yourself in the best position to look as young as possible, especially when there might be bitches around.
GW: Of course. That’s something you always have to consider.
Satchel: I mean, we’re backstage right now… I might even hit on the merch girl, you never know. See the thing is, you’ve always gotta find not just the hottest chick in the room, but the one who’s most likely to have sex with you. I mean, a lot of the time I think, “okay, if I need to get laid right now,” which often times DOES happen, like, “who’s gonna do it?” Because the mistake most guys make is they go for the hottest, but most times she’s not always the most fun. You generally gotta go for the easiest, ‘cause that way you don’t have to try as hard. Gotta go for the fat ones, that’s where it’s at.
GW: Well that’s what Tommy Lee’s all about, or at least he says so in The Dirt.
Satchel: [Laughs] Yeah well, you know, Tommy Lee’s had sex with a lot of ugly chicks.
GW: Feel The Steel and Balls Out both seem to have definitive recurring themes to them—
GW: Feel The Steel seems to talk about VD a lot, while Balls Out is more about anal. Was this perhaps a precautionary step for the band to avoid more STDs or do you prefer UTIs instead?
Satchel: Well dude, you see the band’s not really too worried about STDs anymore. Once you’ve had Chlamydia 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 times, you’re used to it, you know what I’m saying? A lot of times I don’t even know I have it until some girl finds me on Facebook and is like “hey, you know, you gave me Chlamydia,” and I’m just like, well shit, I must have given it to like a hundred girls since then, you know?
Satchel: You know, point is, you can’t catch herpes twice. Which is actually the tentative title for our third record.
GW: I saw on the Kramer guitars website that your line of their guitars is going to be made available to the public, can you tell me anything about that?
Satchel: You know what, I’m still trying to think of what I wanna do with that. Got any ideas?
GW: Well, you could put a—
Satchel: Vagina on it!?
[This conversation got very out of hand, very fast. I’m not even going to attempt to get it published. Eventually, we got back on topic]
Satchel: So wait, what were we talking about?
GW: Kramer guitars.
Satchel: Oh yeah! Okay, that’s right. Yeah, they want to do a Satchel model but I’m not sure what I wanna do with it. I might make a guitar with like, nine strings, you know something to really stretch myself out and make myself more musical and shit.
GW: And just work those fingers—
Satchel: Exactly, just like, notes so low you can’t even hear them. But you know they’re there, ‘cause when you fuckin’ play ‘em at the fuckin’ beach, fuckin’ whales like come up and shit, you know?
GW: Notes that humans can’t hear.
Satchel: That’s a good album title! Notes That Humans Can’t Hear!
Zack: It’s very experimental—
Satchel: Exactly, like a jazz album and shit!
GW: So moving on, what exactly can my generation, you know 18-year-old kids like myself, do to help bring—
Satchel: Hold on a fuckin’ second, you guys are fucking 18?
Zack: 18 and 19, technically.
Satchel: Let me tell you, when I was fuckin’ 18 man, every guitarist had like those curly cables, you know like back in the days of Hendrix and shit. That’s all they sold.
GW: Back in the days of Hendrix?
Satchel: Fuck yeah dude, I’m old.
GW: Well that’s almost you admitting your age right there.
Satchel: Yeah dude, I’m actually 78 years old. Put that on Wikipedia.
GW: So, wait a second—
Satchel: Yeah wait, what the hell were we talking about?
GW: I was asking what my generation can do to help bring heavy metal back.
Satchel: Dude, you’re DOING it! Fuckin’ grew your fuckin’ hair out, right?
GW: Yeah, but like, I was the only one that looked like this in school. How can I spread the word, how can I get my generation to want to be like me?
Satchel: You know what, you have to fuckin’, you have to be like Gandhi. You have to lead by example. You know, you grew your hair out, you’re a fuckin’ good-lookin’ guy so you probably fucked a lotta girls at your school, right? And then all the other guys go, “dude, how come I have to jack off to porn all the fuckin’ time and that dude’s getting laid?” And then they’re like, “you know what, I’m gonna grow my fuckin’ hair out. And I’m gonna play guitar, I’m gonna do the Lick of the fuckin’ Day, and then I’m gonna get laid!” And then before you know it, like a fuckin’ whole generation of kids is doing the right thing, fuckin’ partying and like, not getting jobs and shit. That’s badass.
GW: Right on. The writing process for Balls Out, did you do most the writing yourself, or did you collaborate with the guys? I know Lexxi’s not allowed to talk during rehearsals so I mean—
Satchel: Yeah, you know I just tell Lexxi what notes to play and he does it. A lot of the stuff I started writing about two years ago, right after Feel The Steel went triple platinum in Guam and I was like “fuck, well we’re definitely gonna do another record.” And you know, we play in Vegas a lot, so instead of going to the strip joint at noon every day, I’d push it off til 3, and then from 12 to 3 I would just like, fuckin’, come up with riffs and shit. So I did a lot of demos on my four-track. Then I’d bring the songs into the guys and they’d say “cool” and I’d say “let’s fuckin’ do it” and then I’d, you know, fuckin’ tell everyone what to do. That’s usually how it works with guitar players, you know how it is.
GW: Of course.
Satchel: “Dude, drummer, play the hi-hat! Open the fuckin’ hi-hat!” You know what I mean? “Ride the crash, don’t be a pussy!” Gotta tell ‘em what to do—[to Zack] you know how it is, you’re a fuckin’ drummer!
Zack: Oh yeah—
Satchel: Fuck yeah, dude—
Zack: I mean, how can you not ride the crash?
Satchel: Well you can’t crash the ride, then you just sound like a dick.
GW: So, 17 Girls in A Row. In the song, Michael sings that Stix and Lexxi don’t believe him. Does this mean you do?
Satchel: He didn’t mention that I didn’t believe him, but I actually didn’t believe him. I mean, the thing is, with a song like that… what a lot of people don’t actually realize is that song is about me. I wrote the song so like, I have fucked 17 girls in a row many times. And our singer, he’s a little bit older than me, and I don’t really think he could keep a boner up for 17 girls in a row. Like, he would definitely have to take a break in between somewhere.
[Unfortunately, right after this question the band’s publicist informed us that due to soundcheck running longer than scheduled, we were out of time. My last two questions were about the gear he’d used on the albums too—possibly the most relevant discussion we would have had]
We exchanged a few more moments of off-record conversation and away we went. If you don’t own Feel the Steel, buy it. If you do, get Balls Out when it’s available to the public on November 1st. It’s just as good, if not better than their original release. Steel Panther is an incredible band, if you’re into them do your best to support them; they deserve all the attention they can get! Boys, if you need an equally rockin' opener for your January show, you know who to call.