The legend of Steel Panther
Hair metal glory days return to AucklandBRIDGET JONES
Rockstars are known for making outlandish requests: a room full of 600 white roses, blue M&Ms, miniature ponies and 100-year-old bottles of wine.
But it's not often as a reporter you get asked to skive off work, borrow a Lamborghini and chauffer an 80s hair-metaller around Auckland, possibly without your top on.
Then again, it's not often you interview someone (by phone, mind you) when they are five women deep in a strip club. Allegedly.
Steel Panther are those kind of guys. The kind who live for the excesses of rock'n'roll and who have no time for anyone who isn't on board. Or at least, that's the story they're pedalling.
And the band's guitarist Satchel - real name Russ Parish - seems to be leading the charge.
"I've got about five strippers on me now - you can't hear the music because I've had them turn it down just for you.
"It's nutty and that's why I like it. I am living the dream."
The origins of Steel Panther are, naturally, hazy. Legend says Satchel, Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxxx and Stix Zadinia have been rocking since the 1980s, outlasting all the other hair metallers of their time.
Then Wikipedia says their beginning only dates back to around 2000 when they played a weekly gig at the legendary Viper Room under the names Metal Shop, Metal Skool and Danger Kitty.
There's no point asking Satchel what the truth is - he has enough trouble remembering just when their latest album, Balls Out, was released.
"I think that's something you would have to ask someone who knows what year it is," he says between private dances.
There are tales of cheating with Tommy Lee's girlfriend while on tour with Motley Crue, stories of frontman Starr undergoing close to 50 facelifts, and a life of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - probably in that order.
"It's like a bitchin' circle of life. Hakuna Matata."
It's hard to tell what, if any, is fact rather than fiction.
But somehow between the parties and the hangovers, Steel Panther have made it. Their first album, 2008's Feel The Steel, topped the (comedy) billboard charts (it made the top 100 on the pop chart as well). They almost even got a Grammy Award nomination.
Balls Out went even further, topping the iTunes charts in the UK and the US, beating off competition from Megadeth and Metallica with songs like Supersonic Sex Machine, Just Like Tiger Woods and Why Can't You Trust Me.
The four band members are often joined on stage by well-known fans, including Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. All that and their shows around the world sell out in mere minutes. The band that may, or may not, have started as a joke is now a full-on success.
But how long can the excesses of music carry on for before someone wants to escape the madness?
Satchel has no idea, but he has a message for anyone thinking of walking away from the Panther.
"If one of the dudes in my band decided to quit and go and live in suburbia, do you know what I would do? I would kick him in the nuts and tell him 'dude, you blew it because this is the best f***ing band in, not just this universe, but all the universes'."
After all, how else would you get to tour somewhere like New Zealand, in all her glory?
"I can not wait to get there," says Satchel.
"I'm expecting lots of naked ladies. And I want to also meet all the little people who were in Lord of the Rings. I want to dress them up like the people in the Wizard of Oz."
You could say it's a story that is about as realistic as the legend of Steel Panther.
WHERE: Powerstation, Auckland
WHEN: October 2
- © Fairfax NZ News