STIX ZADINIA On STEEL PANTHER's 'America's Got Talent' Appearance: 'It Was Super Cool To Have Done It'

November 4, 2023

In a new interview with Tommy Carroll of the Grand Rapids, Michigan radio station WGRD 97.9, STEEL PANTHER drummer Stix Zadinia spoke about the band's participation in the "America's Got Talent" reality television and talent competition series. Regarding how they landed on the show, he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "They called us, if I'm being totally honest with you. They called us a couple of years in advance and asked us if we wanted to do it. We didn't know that they allowed for professionals on the show. And they said, 'Yeah, we opened it up.' So we couldn't get the schedule right until the next season. And then we had to have a conversation of, 'Man, we're a pretty edgy band. We're not network style. So we're gonna have to change some stuff. Do we mind doing that?' And at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth going and playing by the rules on TV, because we know what we do. We just took it as an opportunity to make more people aware of what we do, because we're proud of it. And it was we were on twice as much as I thought we were gonna be on, and then we ended up losing to a three-legged dog."

When Carroll noted that some "America's Got Talent" viewers who weren't familiar with STEEL PANTHER likely went online to look up the band and ended up seeing some of STEEL PANTHER's not-safe-for-work music videos, Stix said: "Dude, I've gotta tell you. There was a lot of that. We got some messages from people going, 'I can't believe you guys tricked me like that.' We just did what we do. And there were some people that went online and immediately bought a STEEL PANTHER shirt from our store. And then I think they dove in after they made the purchase because some of them returned it, like, 'I can't have this. This is not my jam.' I think there was only like three or four of those out of all the people who got turned on to it, but I thought it was pretty funny. People just went, 'Well, that's cool.' This is what they did. They didn't bother to dig. And then I think they ordered stuff and then they looked up the 'Goryhole' video, which was a pretty moist video."

Zadinia went on to say that he and his STEEL PANTHER bandmates reached a lot of people through their appearance on "America's Got Talent" who otherwise would never have been exposed to their music.

"Not long after that, we were on tour in Canada and I was walking through a mall with [STEEL PANTHER singer] Michael Starr, and this older Asian gentleman was walking towards us," he recalled. "And when you walk around, you observe people, you say, 'Oh…' And then sometimes, for me, 'cause I'm weird, I will concoct light stories. And I'm looking at this guy. I'm, like, 'This guy probably had a nine-to-five job and he's probably retired.' And he looks at both of us, and there's no real reason he should have known about our band because he just didn't seem like a rocker guy, but he turns to us and he goes, 'AGT'! I went, 'It actually worked. It actually worked.'

"So it was super cool to have done it and to know that we got in people's heads that wouldn't normally know about us," he added.

Asked if it was tough picking songs that he and his STEEL PANTHER bandmates would have to edit lyrically in order to even play on TV, Stix said: "Yes. I mean, I don't know how to make that more clear. It was very tough. It was very tough. In fact, so, 'Eyes Of A Panther', the first one we did, was sort of the no-brainer. I mean, it's an opening song for our live set a lot, and there's not a lot of cuss words in it. So then we have a handful of other songs that are clean, but they may not have been uptempo. And so then 'America's Got Talent' suggested 'Death To All But Metal'. We were, like, 'Dude, these are the lyrics for that song.' But we did it. And kudos to Michael Starr. He had a lot of words to remember. But I thought we pulled it off."

He continued: "It was hard to lose — I don't like losing — but we also understand that it's not necessarily about the talent as much as it's about the people voting at home and the 80-year-old woman in Wichita is, like, 'Oh, I like the little kid who does the magic tricks.' And we're not everybody's cup of tea, which I totally get. That's cool."

Zadinia added that he and his STEEL PANTHER bandmates "really felt like we were torchbearers for heavy metal and hard rock" while they were appearing on "America's Got Talent", "'cause when you get an opportunity like that, you're sort of thrust to the tip of the spear of whatever you're representing," he explained. "We represent rock and roll. There's not a lot of rock and roll on TV. I love that 'AGT', to their credit, 'AGT' invited us. And that to me says, you know what? Yes, there's rules on network television, and they understand that, but they wanted to push it with STEEL PANTHER, and I've gotta do nothing but respect that."

This past August, STEEL PANTHER failed to make it through to the Top 10 of season 18 of "America's Got Talent".

Night two of "America's Got Talent" season 18 featured performances from 11 artists, including the California glam metal jokesters, all of whom were hoping to make it through to the finale.

Only 55 acts continued on to "America's Got Talent" live shows after thousands of hopefuls from around the world auditioned for Season 18 judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel.

The remaining acts were split into groups of 11 and were competing weekly over five nights and from each night, only two made it through to the finale.

STEEL PANTHER performed on the August 29 episode of the "America's Got Talent". They played their classic song "Death To All But Metal", from 2009's "Feel The Steel" album, although they admittedly had to tweak some of the provocative lyrics in order to appear on NBC during primetime.

During its "America's Got Talent" audition in May, STEEL PANTHER promised to give Heidi and Sofia lifetime backstage passes and concert tickets ahead of the band's performance of the song "Eyes Of A Panther". At that time, Starr informed Cowell and Mandel that STEEL PANTHER actually has six studio albums, as well as several live records.

"I've seen these guys," Vergara said in May. "My husband Joe hired them for his 40th birthday and it was the best birthday he ever had. You guys are amazing!"

In a recent interview with Brazil's A Rádio Rock, Starr stated about STEEL PANTHER's participation in "America's Got Talent": "It was really, really scary. Our brand is very dirty and raunchy and heavy metal rock and roll, right? It's all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. So to go on 'America's Got Talent', which is really super straight and has to be very super clean, it was scary. I didn't wanna say 'fuck' while I was singing… But the experience was great. Unfortunately, we didn't win, but we made it to the second round, and that was pretty cool. And now we get noticed by old ladies and shopping malls. It's pretty cool."

Asked if he and his bandmates would play the "America's Got Talent" again, Michael said: "Yeah, of course. We're thinking about doing 'Canada's Got Talent' or maybe 'Brazil's Got Talent'. Why not? We'll do 'em all… We can just do a tour of talent shows and just try and win."

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