Bill Bodkin of Pop-Break.com recently conducted an interview with STEEL PANTHER‘s lead singer Michael Starr. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Pop-Break.com: Do you think [the new STEEL PANTHER] record is something a fan of ’80s metal who’s currently disillusioned with metal today? And let’s face how can you not be? I mean, there are no guitar solos anymore. Can that disillusioned metal person listen to “Balls Out” and fall back in love with ’80s metal and, more importantly, rock ‘n’ roll again?
Starr: I feel the same way you do — I’m an ’80s guy to the core. I love it. But it’s starting to feel like a distant memory. With STEEL PANTHER, there are kids who are 14 or 15, who are listening to this and are like “Fuck, this is killer!” They don’t know why it’s killer, but they just know it is and they dig it. It’s not like they’re referencing it like you and I and are like, “Yeah it’s ’80s and we dig it.” They just dig it because they dig it. And you’re right, man, there’s no guitar solos, there’s no screaming, no straight fucking rocking — that’s missing in today’s music. I think that anyone who’s fresh-eared and never really experience the ’80s like you or I did can totally appreciate it.
Pop-Break.com: Are there any bands out there today — outside of STEEL PANTHER, obviously — they you feel can recapture the glory days of good rock ‘n’ roll?
Starr: [Sighs] No … not really. There’s a band out there called THE LAST LAS VEGAS, Nikki Sixx signed them and they put out a song, and it was fucking cool. But God, man, I gotta tell you, there’s not a new band out, [except] a band called RECKLESS LOVE out of Holland or Sweden — their stuff’s a little poppy, they’re not talking about fucking and all that sorta shit, the stuff that I dig — but man … no. That’s why I feel our job is to keep rocking and to change people’s perception about what music should be. We gotta change the culture, bro!
Pop-Break.com: Why do you think it changed? We all know grunge happened, but you would think there would have been some sorta pickup, a comeback. But it hasn’t. The ’80s are popular because it’s retro and only because it’s retro. It’s never been re-embraced or even re-invented by the culture like disco has. Why do you think the ’80s metal sound has never made a full comeback as a viable musical genre in today’s scene?
Starr: Heavy metal was such a special thing. I believe it was started by VAN HALEN, it was so special. If you agree with me, VAN HALEN started out in ’78 when they really started getting out there. The frontman, the fucking ringleader just rocking, the awesome guitar player, the blonde hair/black hair dude. That whole tandem went 12 years, almost 15. It’s hard to duplicate. I think for it to come back you need a band like STEEL PANTHER to really do it. And trust me, I’ve got my eye out for the next young singer. And if I find someone that I feel posses what we do, I’m going to find him a guitar player and make him fucking do metal.
Pop-Break.com: What do you think the qualities that singer has to have?
Starr: Here’s what I feel is missing in today’s music — it’s called charisma. Where the singer is singing, looking at people in the audience and making the crowd feel like they’re a part of the show, talking one-on-one with the crowd, really bringing them in. STEEL PANTHER, I believe, has four guys like that. We all have charisma, that thing where people feel like they’re part of the show. We’re fun to watch — there’s moves to watch. We’re good looking guys who love to rock and aren’t fat. These are qualities you have to have as a lead singer — especially charisma, man.
Pop-Break.com: Going back to the record, how do you think “Balls Out” differs from your last record “Feel The Steel”?
Starr: Well, some people say it’s more mature of a record, and I would think it’s more of an immature record. It’s not like we’re breaking any new ground with our lyrical content, but I think the band still stands strong and we’re singing about shit people have a hard time talking about. Some guys are afraid to ask their chick to let them fuck them in the ass. “Critter” is a perfect instructional song on how to do that, and I don’t think we had anything like that on “Feel The Steel”. So in that respect, it’s different. But here’s the key difference between “Feel The Steel” and “Balls Out”. “Feel The Steel” features songs we wrote over a 10-year period. “Balls Out” we wrote over a year period, but it was also inspired by actually putting “Feel The Steel” out and going out and tour. So I think that is evident in music. So it’s not more mature, we’re just a little more worldly now.
Read the entire interview from Pop-Break.com.