Prior to the group's January 24 performance in Manchester, England, STEEL PANTHER vocalist Michael Starr and drummer Stix Zadinia were interviewed by Heavy TV. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On how the group's latest album, 2016's "Lower The Bar", was received:
Stix: "I think during the shows when we play stuff off this new record, usually, it just seems like people... with older records, the songs are out longer, so they have time to learn them and become part of their deal. With a new record, sometimes it takes more time to sink in, but it seems like these songs, instantly, people are like... like, the reaction is the same as the songs off [debut album] 'Feel The Steel'. They're really stoked to hear them, and they're fun as hell to play.
Michael: "Especially with 'Balls Out', I felt like most people were just judging us on our first record. 'Balls Out' was our sophomore effort, and there's a lot of expectation with that. It took a while for it to catch on. But I feel like this one, the songs on the record, they translate really well live. Some songs have a different vibe on stage than they do on a record, but these particular songs, they fucking get the crowd rocking."
Stix: "After the first record, people have this opinion, and your next record, everyone's going, 'Boo. Is it like what they did?', like they're trying to figure out what STEEL PANTHER is. By this record now, I feel like we've established our sound and who we are. People now know, 'Oh, we're going to get a killer heavy metal record out of this band.'"
On how the reception to the band has changed over the years:
Michael: "When we first started, it was uncomfortable, because we stuck out so much."
Stix: "It was, 'Who are these tools?' But now, I think that part of the reason [for the change] is, we don't look like most of the people at the festival, whether they're in the crowd or in the bands. We specifically and intentionally like to be shiny and bright. People, they used to do that – bands used to take it up a notch."
Michael: "You shouldn't look like, when you're on stage, like you could get off stage, put a green Starbucks apron on and start serving coffee. When I put on my outfit at home when I go to Starbucks for work, I leave my spandex at home."
Stix: "You want to keep your Starbucks and your rocking separate. I'm with you. I think that no matter who the journalist or the photographer or the manager or the promoter or the concert-goer is, it's exciting to see people put a little effort into their entertainment factor. When you see Steven Tyler, he's got fifty scarves. It's just fifty scarves, but it's his thing. It's fucking cool."
On giving guest musicians prominent roles on their albums and in concert:
Stix: "We've been fortunate enough to have a lot of cool people play on our records and get up and jam with us."
Michael: "There's one guest star that doesn't get a lot of talking-about on our new record."
Stix: "Rudy Sarzo."
Michael: "From WHITESNAKE, OZZY OSBOURNE, QUIET RIOT. This guy, he's a triple-threat. He was in the bands that made heavy metal."
Stix: "He was in DIO."
Michael: "Fuck, that's four, dude! He played on a song called 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks'. He created the bass parts for it, and it's really, really good. We want to say thank you for being on our record, man. We really appreciate it. You know who else doesn't get any credit at all? Chad Kroeger from NICKELBACK."
Stix: "Just, like, in general, he doesn't?"
Michael: "No, no — he sang on our record."
Stix: "Here's the story. We went to his house in Vancouver, just outside of Vancouver. We went to his house all day to go write with him, and it was an amazing experience. He was such a great host, and we came out with a fucking killer song ['It Won't Suck Itself'], and not only that, but the two coolest things about his house? He has an ice hockey rink inside his home. An ice hockey rink. And he also has his own gas pumps on his property."
Michael: "And he also has an assistant — and this is not, like, making shit up — that rolls joints for him. I'm not kidding. We spent the whole day together writing, getting high, and it was really fun. I know there's some perceptions about NICKELBACK, but I'll tell you what, dude — those guys know how to party."
On why Zadinia directed the band's latest music video, "Wasted Too Much Time":
Stix: "We knew we were going to do a video, and we got treatments from some directors that we really liked, but nothing was killing us. I had an idea; I submitted it to the guys; they all dug the idea; and we're like, 'Awesome, let's do it.' So we decided to do it, and then two weeks before we were supposed to schedule the shoot, I don't know if it was Michael or Satchel, one of them goes, 'Hey, who's directing this thing?' I was like, 'I didn't think about it.' I go, 'I think I am?' I asked for their blessing to direct it, and they all went, 'Hell yes, dude. If it's awesome, it's on you. If it sucks, it's on you.'"
STEEL PANTHER is continuing to tour in support of "Lower The Bar", which was released in March 2017 via Kobalt Music Recordings. The disc was co-produced with regular collaborator Jay Ruston, and includes eleven songs recorded at studios in North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, California, with an additional two tracks on a Best Buy deluxe edition.