STEEL PANTHER's MICHAEL STARR On New Bassist SPYDER: 'We've Known Each Other For 25 Years'
February 10, 2023
In a new interview with the "Heavy Handed" podcast, STEEL PANTHER singer Michael Starr spoke about the band's recent search for a new bassist following the July 2021 exit of Lexxi Foxx. Reflecting on how Joe "Spyder" Lester ended up getting the gig, Michael said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "There was a over 500 submissions, and I would say that 30 percent of 'em were just people going, 'Hey, I don't know how to play bass, but I wanna be in your band, dude.'
"We went through every single submission twice, and then we decided… We picked our favorite 20 or 30, I believe, and then we let our fans pick from the last 10 or so. And we ended up choosing a dude, and we went out and toured with him, and it just didn't work out — bottom line. And we called the runner-up, and he was, like, 'Oh, dude, I already got another gig, and I can't split.' He just couldn't do it. And then, we were, like, 'Fuck. I guess we've gotta audition again.' So we auditioned a couple of other dudes. But while we were waiting to audition these other couple of dudes, we needed to go do our European tour. And I'm, like, 'Fuck. Who's gonna…? Joe will do it. Spyder will do it.' And Spyder was, like, 'Yeah, I'll do it. But I've got my other bands and shit.' And we were, like, 'Cool. Thank you for doing it.' So he went out and did it. And we were all sitting there, and we were playing, and we were, like, we've known each other — seriously — for 25 years. I was in a band with Spyder called the ATOMIC PUNKS, a VAN HALEN tribute band. Satchel [STEEL PANTHER guitarist] and I were in that together with Spyder. And we were just, like, 'Dude, are you sure you don't want…? You should fucking do this gig.' He was having a blast. And by the third or fourth show on our European tour, he was, like, 'Dude, if you guys will have me, I wanna fucking do it.' And we were, like, 'Fuck yes.' And that's really the genesis of Spyder becoming the bass player."
Elaborating on what STEEL PANTHER was looking for in a new bassist, Starr said: "There's things that people don't really understand when it comes to being in a band. What they see is the stage and us performing and then some Instagram shit and promo pictures and interviews. But that's an hour and a half of our day. The other 22 and a half hours, we're all together — either sleeping, hanging out, eating, soundchecking, working, interviews… all kinds of shit. So you have to be able to be together and fucking have a cool hang. So he's a cool hang, he's a good friend and we're all close and we're stoked. He's a fucking amazing bass player too.
"Lexxi Foxx is irreplaceable; nobody can replace him," Michael clarified. "So a lot of the submissions were trying to be Lexxi, which I understand; it makes sense. And we went with one guy who kind of looked like Lexxi. And we just thought, 'You know what? Let's do something different.' 'Cause Lexxi can't be replaced. He's one of a kind, and that's what made him so special. And we all miss him and we love him. But we're all happy for him, 'cause he's got a little baby and a wife. And he's fucking stoked, man. So everything is cool."
Spyder's addition to STEEL PANTHER was officially announced last September.
A year and a half ago, Lexxi — whose real name is Travis Haley — told Rocking With Jam Man that he hadn't spoken with his former bandmates since his exit. "I still talk to the singer a little bit; I have in the past," he said. "But I think that those scars and I think that the departure, the way that it went down, I think there's some sore spots. But that's tough for me to talk about.
"That was something that I'm very proud of — to be that character for such a long period of time, and to play with those cats," he continued. "They're all amazing musicians. And I just think that it is different to not have that [in my life] — I'd been in character for so long — but I have to say it's a little refreshing as well."
When STEEL PANTHER first announced Lexxi's exit in July 2021, the band jokingly said that Foxx "started his side business, 'Sexy Lexxi's Prettiest Pets,' to bring in money for Botox during the lockdown." After realizing that "his love for making pets pretty was greater than his love for being pretty himself," he chose "to hang up his mirror and focus on his newfound passion: making ugly dogs pretty," the group wrote in a statement.
Back in December 2018, Lexxi sat out a STEEL PANTHER tour after being admitted to "sex rehab." The real reason for his absence was never officially disclosed.
During an appearance on an episode of the "2020'd" podcast, Satchel stated about Lexxi's departure: "We didn't want him to quit. Nobody wanted him to quit, including a lot of fans. I'm sure a lot of fans are very sad that he left. But he's the guy who left the band. I think he's got his own things he's dealing with, and he just wanted to go and do that. So, I don't know… I can't answer for Lexxi Foxx. But we will all miss Lexxi Foxx, and we all wish him the best in everything that he does. But we didn't fire him; he quit the band. So we're gonna have to move on and get somebody else who's younger and foxier and doesn't need as much Botox," referencing the drug doctors have been using for years to treat wrinkles and facial creases.
Formed in 2000, STEEL PANTHER specializes in imitating and exaggerating the less flattering aspects of 1980s hair metal, with unrepentantly crude, non-PC sexual content as a favorite lyrical theme.
The group's music has been described as "VAN HALEN meets MÖTLEY CRÜE meets RATT meets 'Wayne's World', complete with operatic shrieks, misogyny, shredding guitar solos and libidinal overdrive."
Fifteen years ago, STEEL PANTHER changed its name from METAL SKOOL to its current moniker and shifted the focus of its act from '80s metal covers to originals.
STEEL PANTHER's sixth studio album, "On The Prowl", will be released on February 24.
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