Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Steel Panther are playing it for laughs

Steel Panther say they landed their first record deal after they lightened up and started having fun.
Steel Panther say they landed their first record deal after they lightened up and started having fun.

Michael Starr has some great rock 'n' roll stories, but his absolute favourite features a sleepy Axl Rose.

"Axl closed off the whole left side of the arena of any noise for four hours while he took a nap," says Starr, whose band, Steel Panther, was on tour with Guns N' Roses at the time.

"We had to go into a dressing room and no one could tune guitars or be on stage for four hours."

He continues: "That's heavy metal, and it's funny."

Starr knows a few things about making people laugh. As Steel Panther's singer, he has to holler the lyrics to the band's funniest heavy metal parodies - their biggest songs are called Gloryhole and Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World - and keep a straight face.

The Californian quartet have been cracking fans up since the year 2000, when they realised they'd have more success writing glam-rock piss-takes than covering their favourite '80s acts.

"When we stopped being so serious and started having a good time, we got a record deal," admits Starr.

That's resulted in four albums of increasingly theatrical antics: the cover of their last, 2014's All You Can Eat, features Starr with bandmates Satchel, Lexxi Foxx and Stix Zadinia recreating The Last Supper with models and pizza.

They are, says Starr, paying tribute to their favourite metal acts - with their tongues stuck firmly in their cheeks.

"We sing about stuff people think about but can't say. Some people might think about getting an Asian hooker every now and then, but they don't sing about it. We just sing about it," he says.

While real effort goes into their lyrics and their between-song banter during shows, the group's sense of humour has at times got them into trouble.

"They banned us from Germany over a song called Critter because 'critter' translates into something else that's offensive," says Starr.

There won't be any problems in New Zealand - Steel Panther have played here before, and Starr promises fans won't be bored at their Auckland show on Sunday night.

"If [you like to] hang out with chicks and enjoy yourself you're going to love our show ... just go balls out."

Who: Californian glam-metallers Steel Panther
Where and when: Performing at The Powerstation, Auckland, on Sunday

- NZ Herald

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