Roar of the Panther

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The '80s-metal majesty of California group Steel Panther cannot be intimated in mere, puny words. The hair, the swagger, the guitars, your girlfriend backstage (and on the band's tour bus) all make for a grand package that cannot be denied. The band, led by singer Michael Starr, just released their third studio album, Balls Out, which features guest spots from Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme and comedian Dane Cook.

Chatter spoke to Starr about drugs, chicks, the Steel Panther experience and other things we couldn't bear to type out for human eyes to see. He promised to leave us a backstage pass at the box office, but only if Chatter would give it to our girlfriend. And we politely agreed. It's Steel Panther, after all.

Chatter: You guys opened for Guns N' Roses late last year. What was that like?


Steel Panther

8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at HouseofBlues, 1204Caroline, 888-402-5837 or www.hob.com/houston.

Michael Starr: The crew and everybody working for them were accommodating. I got to check out Axl's dressing room onstage, and it was really neat. Come five o'clock, though, they shut down one side of the backstage of the arena, and that side is just for Axl.

I have never met Axl Rose, so I have no idea what he is like, but I watched them and they sounded great. They played forever.

Chatter: How did the GN'R crowd take you guys?

MS: At first they were freaking out, like "What the fuck is going on?" We go out in front of this crowd and they were fucking taken aback, and it took four songs before everyone realized what was going on. They were like, "What happened to Bret Michaels, he looks like he gained 20 pounds?!"

Chatter: Chad Kroeger sings on the new album's "It Won't Suck Itself." What is he like?

Starr: We met up with him after a show in Vancouver at a strip club and hung out. He's a super-cool, rad guy, and we went to his house after. He's got like a 15,000-square-foot mansion on 20 acres of land, with a full-blown recording studio with a staff on call.

He has a full-fledged hockey rink inside his house, too. He has an assistant that rolls him joints, and there was a cook there cooking for us. We were there for almost two days.

Chatter: No one will believe you that Chad Kroeger is cool...

Starr: He's the coolest guy in the library. He's in the Nickelback world, but he wants to be in the Steel Panther world. But he can't because he's made his career in the Nickelback world.

Chatter: He could join Steel Panther. Like Nickelpanther, or Steelback...

Starr: If he joined Steel Panther then I would have to be in Nickelback, and I would not be stoked about that.

Chatter: Any tips for getting chicks off the bus at the end of the night?

Starr: The bus is really tricky, because if you pull a chick on the bus and you fuck her, and everything is killer and you are doing Panther Puffs [see below], the problem is getting rid of her. Sometimes you just have to drop them off at the gas station and just split. There was a girl in Houston, but I forget her name...

Chatter: What about the backstage area? How does that work?

Starr: We set up two dressing rooms for the band, one for the crew, and then two others: one for after-show passes, the "holding pen," and one called the "escape room." If you go to the after-show room and there are no girls in there you dig, you go into the escape room, and no one knows you are in there and it's killer.

Chatter: Describe the Steel ­Panther experience...

Starr: The full-on experience of Steel Panther is not only ingesting the music through your ears, but it's mostly seeing it. You have to remember, it's not about how good you play. It's about how good you look. It's not about what is on the inside, it's what's on the outside that is important.

Chatter: If Steel Panther were a drug, what would it be made of?

Michael Starr: Special K, mixed with cocaine, and a hit of crack. And you have to smoke it. It would be called Panther Puffs. At the same time, though, you have to remember to be responsible when you do drugs.

Do them after work, on your lunch break or before work. If you are doing it in the bathroom, you probably have a problem. We are about having a fun, killer, awesome time that you will never forget.

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