If there’s three things that come to mind when you think of Steel Panther it would have to be cocaine, strippers, and hairspray. However, it wasn’t just luck or a gimmick that got the band such an established brand, it was straight up hard work.

In the beginning, Steel Panther was just like every other local band – grinding it out on stage, slaving themselves over material and being burnt by the music industry. Determined to not add their bones to the pile, the band found their niche, if that word could be applied here, handcuffed it to the bed, gagged it, and had a wild 14-year bender with it.

Now, upon their Australian return, the band are harking back to the days of old…to their time busting (and no doubt tapping) ass on the Sunset Strip, covering their favourite 80’s heavy metal tunes. The Sunset Strip Live tour will see the band performing two sets – one of originals, and another of their iconic covers, the very ones earned them a reputation as pure shredders the world over.

Ahead of their arrival, we spoke with vocalist Michael Starr, who had recently conquered a software problem thanks to the glory of YouTube tutorials…

…We began pondering whether Youtube could be used to tutor someone into being a rockstar…
Michael Starr: I don’t think being a rock star can really be taught. First, You have to be a really good songwriter. If you’re not a songwriter you need to find someone who writes great songs…You really have to be born with it, I think. You can be taught a couple of things but people can see through that sort of stuff. Either it’s in your soul and your blood or it’s not.

You know what, though? If you’re trying to do it, like I did for years, I never gave up. I feel like I was born to rock but I also learnt a bunch before YouTube, on how to rock with a mirror, some cocaine and a 6 pack of beer. You have to look at yourself and make sure you’re not making any dumb looks, or moves. It’s not about how good you play, it’s about how good you look while you play.

I’m making light of it but you have to perform. That’s what Steel Panther brings to the table for our audiences – We perform for them, we give them a show. Not only do we play our songs like we recorded them, we also talk to the people and make them a part of the show, have a laugh, see some boobies, have some beers and escape reality for 90 minutes.
The Neversphere: As a performer, how hard is it to stick to having fun and being an escape, considering the world is falling apart around us?
Michael: People that buy tickets to our show usually know what they’re about to walk into. We haven’t really put too much thought into it except to make sure we card all the chicks backstage.
The Neversphere: It feels like you put some thought into the upcoming Australian tour. You’ll be performing two sets in one night. One full of originals, and the other full of covers. As you know by now, Australian audiences would be stoked to just have you on stage wagging your bare dicks in our faces…what inspired you to mix it up?
Michael: The way we started out is what we’re going to bring to you guys. When we started, that’s when Nirvana and Soundgarden and Pearl Jam came out and killed heavy metal. The whole genre of heavy metal basically died. We couldn’t get a record deal, we couldn’t get signed so we decided ‘You know what, we love heavy metal, we’re going to keep playing it.’ So. we kept playing the bands that inspired us, like White Snake, Van Halen, and Motley Crue. We use to play that stuff live on the Sunset Strip all the time, every Monday for 14 years.

So, what we’re doing is we’re bring that show back, for everybody, so they can see what we did. Also, not to mention it’s super fucking fun. People enjoy hearing things they haven’t heard for a long time; live and in their face. Plus, dude, we play the shit out of White Snake.

The Neversphere: Now that you’re addressing the bands origins with this tour, is it a bit of a head trip looking back at how it all started compared to where the band is now?
Michael: It’s really surreal. I have to tell you, we didn’t plan it this way; we’re so fucking grateful and excited – still, to this day! We started out as a modest cover band just trying to make a living, then we started writing our own stuff, then the rest is history. It’s extremely surreal. We never saw it coming. We never saw ourselves as a parody band until someone else called us that in an article. We thought ‘Oh, we’re a parody band?’ We didn’t know what, we’re just having fun.
The Neversphere: That’s similar to the fan perspective. I remember hearing rumours of the band that played a Monday night residency on the Sunset Strip for 14 years. And let’s be real…you play some of these songs better than the originals…
Michael: That’s really nice of you to say. I learnt from all the bands that we’re going to be playing. I watched and studied Van Halen for years because that was my favourite band. Then Motley Crue came out. I went and saw every one of those bands live: Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, you name it. We like to joke around…if we’re going to joke around, we better damn well bring the precision and the music playing.
The Neversphere: What’s it like knowing now that these bands you loved so much, and looked up to… are now your peers. I imagine you’re friends with a lot of them now…
Michael: I remember we did a tour in the UK opening up for Motley Crue and Def Leppard. Those two bands we really influential to me as a kid and to hang out with Nikki Six backstage at Wembley was fucking amazing. I didn’t even take any pictures, that’s how nervous I was. I just hung out with them, got talking, I watched Mick Mars, with a cane, walking down the dressing room – It took him like 10 minutes to get on stage…
The Neversphere: It must also be a bit of a buzz knowing that you’re having that impact on the next generation of musicians who are opening for your shows.
Michael: It’s great, dude. We’re so fucking stoked. We’ve played with a lot of bands. Whenever we play a festival – when we did the first Soundwave, I went and watched every band before we went on and after we went on because I love live music. I fucking hated Limp Bizkit until I went and saw them play at Soundwave. Fred Durst turns around, looks at me and goes ‘Make some fucking noise for Steel Panther, one of the best bands in the world…’

Like…holy fuck, Fred Durst just said that about me. Since then, I’ve been a Limp Bizkit fan and that’s not metal.

The Neversphere: I’d be really interested to hear what other bands you’re freaking out about at the moment?
Michael: That’s a really great question. Right now, I’ve been buried in Steel Panther world so I haven’t listened to much outside of that. I’ve been listening to a cover of that song Zombie by my friend’s band Bad Wolves, that’s pretty bitchin’. There’s also another band called The Struts, they’re fun, they’re changing their sound as they go along. I still fucking love The Darkness, they’re a great band.
The Neversphere: What’s the latest update from Steel Panther world? Once you get this software issue sorted, what’s on the cards for the rest of the year?
Michael: Satchel is the genius behind the music – he writes it all. Then we add our flavour to the songs. He’s churning out those. This new Sunset Live show that we’ve created, we’re doing it all over – United States, Canada and South America too. Towards the end of the year, we’re going to start working on the songs…

…And put together a new record for 2019, baby.

Steel Panther
Sunset Strip Live Australian Tour Dates

Tickets available now.

Tuesday, May 15
The Forum – Melbourne
Tickets: MJR Presents

Wednesday, May 16
The Forum – Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Tickets: MJR Presents

Friday, May 18
The Big Top – Sydney
Tickets: MJR Presents

Sunday, May 20
Eatons Hill Hotel – Brisbane
Tickets: MJR Presents

Tuesday, May 22
Astor Theatre – Perth
Tickets: MJR Presents