Steel Panther’s Stix Zadinia talks about living the ’80s rockstar life in 2023 and the band’s dedication to originality< < Back to
This feature includes explicit language.
CINCINNATI, Ohio (WOUB) – Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are all alive and well in 2023.
In fact, somehow that infamous trifecta is even more debaucherous than ever when it comes to glam metal jokesters Steel Panther.
The band’s hard rock and heavy metal style is a kind of tongue-in-cheek homage to the tight pants and massive hair that dominated rock radio in the ’80s. Featuring crude lyrics, larger than life choruses, and roaring guitar solos, Steel Panther has made six studio albums, including 2023’s On the Prowl. The record proves that Steel Panther is as crude and funny as ever, using their transgressive aesthetic to solicit laughs as well as introspection from their audiences.
WOUB’s Nicholas Kobe spoke with Steel Panther drummer Stix Zadinia in advance of the group’s upcoming show Thursday at Bogart’s (2621 Short Vine Street). Find a transcript of their conversation edited for length and clarity below.
Nicholas Kobe: How would you sum up Steel Panther in one sentence?
Stix Zadinia: Steel Panther is the most fun you will have – with your pants on or off, whether you are sober or not, and whether you have friends or not. You always have a friend in Steel Panther, period.
On The Prowl has been out for a few months. How are you feeling about the material on that record?
Zadinia: Super duper proud of it, if I’m being honest. We feel really, really good about this record. The songs that are on it are fun and they celebrate things that people don’t normally celebrate; with songs like Magical Vagina. We also talk about serious issues On Your Instagram. So it’s an educational album. It’s an entertaining album, so we’re really, really proud of it.
What is it like to be an ’80s rock star in 2023?
Zadinia: It’s as cool as you think it is to be able to do what we do nowadays with the climate being what it is. We feel lucky, but we also feel like we and everybody are entitled to say whatever the hell they want. If somebody doesn’t like it, you can’t cancel ’em. You can just not listen. We love being that fish out of water because we don’t really follow the rules. We don’t want to live by those rules and you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can play the game or you can choose not to play the game. We’ve been lucky enough that people understand what we do and they appreciate it and keep coming back, listening, and having a great time.
Considering the style of music that you play, it’s kind of against the ethos to play to the rules.
Zadinia: Oh, totally. I mean that’s the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll started as a big “f-you” and we’re just continuing that tradition. To me, anybody with success in music, I applaud. It’s a hard thing to do no matter what style of music you’re doing, no matter what you’re doing. If you can succeed as a musician, I have all the respect in the world for you. But if you do it trying to chase trends and be the flavor of the week, because that’s popular, to me it seems way less rewarding than kind of towing your own line and creating your own path. There’s originality and there’s a reward for that instead of going, ‘Well I’m doing a cool version of what that other guy does.’ We are just going to do whatever the hell we do and we’re lucky that people dig it.
Some the band’s influences have a long legacy. Guns N’ Roses is still touring, and so is Iron Maiden, so this sound clearly has staying power.
Zadinia: In a way we have more in common with Iron Maiden than we do with Guns N’ Roses, in the sense that Iron Maiden, though they didn’t have necessarily cuss words, they didn’t get a lot of radio airplay, they just never did for whatever reason. But they still have legions of fans that love them and people learn about them by word of mouth. Most people who go to an Iron Maiden concert know every word to every song. If you go to a “flavor of the week band” show, you’re going to see a bunch of people going, ‘Ooh, when’s the single coming? When’s the single coming? That’s the one I know and that’s the one I love.’ They don’t know anything else on the record. So I’d rather have that long arc career and that long arc of fan who knows and loves everything you do, instead of being that one-song band.
And you guys feel like you’ve been pretty successful at keeping that kind of fan base?
Zadinia: Oh, totally. And I mean, it’s evidenced by the fact that we don’t get radio support, but I think we’re that band, we’re one of those bands where people go, ‘Dude, you got to hear this band or have you heard of Steel Panther?’ They want to share it with their friends.
I think people really like to share that with their friends as opposed to hearing a cool song, you go, ‘Oh dude, have you heard that song?’ And then if somebody says ‘No,’ you go, ‘Oh dude, you should hear it.’ That’s the end of it, it doesn’t go deep. I think a lot of our fans and a lot of people who celebrate Steel Panther with us, doing that sort of lets them express themselves without shame. It’s kind of like when we used to watch Eddie Murphy’s Delirious or Andrew Dice Clay for a special where it was super dirty and you like hit your friend on the shoulder and you go, ‘Dude, have you seen this?’ Then if they said no, you’re going to go find a way for them to watch it with you.
Speaking of that vibe, what is the general vibe at a Steel Panther show?
Zadinia: Oh, dude. Well, it’s hard to put into words and print what it feels like at a Steel Panther show. So visceral. It’s like, it’s palpable. You walk in the room and there’s sexuality. There’s no judging. It’s just that everything’s fair game for getting ripped on in a fun way. Nothing’s off limits and it’s an ‘anything goes’ sort of situation. That’s the mantra of our band. Do what makes you happy and anything goes.
Obviously, you guys have been doing this sound where you’ve been influenced by a lot of hair metal, not only just in the sound but also in turning lyrics and debauchery up to 11. Have you guys been successful off-stage in living that rockstar lifestyle?
Zadinia: Well, you can only be so successful doing that. If you’re going to actually live a proper rockstar lifestyle, you’re not going to live long. That’s just the fact. So you can only do that for so long, which to be honest with you, I’ve done that and it’s tiring. The older you get, the more you want to take care of your body so you can keep doing what you love. There’s a time and a place for partying and getting super freaky and weird. But for me, it’s not every single night.
We want to put on the best shows we can. You’ve seen bands that are running themselves into the ground with drugs and alcohol – which, don’t get me wrong, I love drugs and alcohol – but you can’t do it every night, morning, and afternoon and expect to put out quality stuff. Putting out quality stuff is more important to us than being hammered all the time. So we pick and choose our times to get hammered and we pick and choose our times to put out quality stuff.
Do you have any personal favorites, lyrics, or subject matter that you guys talk about on this new record?
Zadinia: I think Magical Vagina is one of those songs that should be celebrated more because it’s a song that talks about how amazing the vagina is and how much we love them. And I don’t think there are enough songs that talk about it. There are some songs that do, but no one does it like we did in that song. It’s so descriptive and it’s so celebratory. I love that one. I think more people should listen to that.
So it’s a loose atmosphere at your shows. What is the most surprising or weirdest thing to have happened at a Steel Panther show?
Zadinia: Oh, I can tell you the easily: a girl had a baby at our Wembley Arena show. I’m not kidding you, dude. A girl actually delivered a baby at the second time we headlined Wembley Arena.
Did y’all have to stop the set or did she just-
Zadinia: No, we didn’t. We found out while we were on stage and I think we mentioned it, but we didn’t stop the set. I mean, she wasn’t having a baby in the crowd. I think they brought her into the common area, but not just outside in the lobby. But yeah, we didn’t stop the show, but we did acknowledge it.
If you had to look into the future, what would you say is next for Steel Panther?
Zadinia: I think a couple of hip replacement surgeries and I think some Botox and I think more content, more records. I hope for a feature film. We’re going to do everything we can to infect everybody with our brand of heavy metal.
Find more information on Steel Panther, including all upcoming tour dates, at steelpanther.com