The band Steel Panther.
The band Steel Panther. David E. Jackson

You’ll rock and roar with America's glam metal poster boys

THERE'S nothing subtle about Steel Panther.

The American glam metal band hits you like a slap in the face, whether it's with its music, fashion or outrageous videos.

Known for profane and humorous lyrics and on-stage personas that parody and pay tribute to '80s glam rockers in equal measure, Steel Panther is a refreshing splash of colour across the standard black dress code of the Soundwave Festival.

"Australian people have a good sense of humour," lead singer Michael Starr said.

"I'm not sure if it's the alcohol content in the beer, but the people seem to not take themselves so God-damn seriously. You don't hear anything about being politically correct like here in the (United) States."

Starr, whose real name is Ralph Saenz, was speaking to me from an Illinois hotel room where he was "eating a bag of Doritos, drinking beer and watching a movie".

It doesn't exactly evoke an image of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll". But Starr is a hardworking veteran of LA's music scene.

Most of his partying takes place on stage or in the band's notorious film clips.

He and his three bandmates first gained popularity as a covers band, first as Metal Shop and then later as Metal Skool, playing LA's Sunset Strip.

"We're just really grateful to be able to play music and get paid for it," he said.

"We were a cover band for 13 years straight ... playing three or four nights a week. It was a great accomplishment for us to get signed to put out a record. We never thought we would be headlining an arena.

"One thing people appreciate about Steel Panther is we don't take ourselves too seriously, but we take our craft seriously."


Further to that point, Starr doesn't agree with Steel Panther being labelled a parody band.

"It's like 5 Seconds of Summer - they don't want to be called a boy band," he said.

"We're a heavy metal band and we love the '80s. I still like the style of the '80s, and that's the way I

Carry myself. I don't care what anybody calls us."

Type 'Steel Panther' into Google and you'll find the most common searches for the band revolve around hair.

All four members sport the long, teased and heavily hair-sprayed locks of '80s glam bands.

"When you get older, your hair thins out a bit and some of the guys have indulged in what they call hair extensions," Starr said.

"It's funny. We're the only band that will talk about it.

"Other bands that have long hair and are older aren't going to talk about their hair extensions."

Returning to our shores for the first time in nearly three years, the band is armed with its third studio album.

All You Can Eat is Steel Panther's best-charting album to date, reaching its highest position - No. 2 - on the ARIA albums chart.

"This time around, you're going to hear a really good dose of the new record, but we'll equally spread it (the set list) out with all three discs," Starr said.

The Soundwave Festival plays the Brisbane Showgrounds tomorrow and Sunday.

Steel Panther plays Stage 1 on Sunday at 4pm.

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