Whether it's the buttons of its critics or the limits of how riotously funny a heavy metal band can be on stage and on record, Steel Panther can push it.
Closing in on three months of COVID-19 quarantine, Steel Panther's latest project is pushing the limits of what a band can do in isolation and, perhaps most importantly, what fans are willing to support.
Touring and live concerts came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit Europe and the United States this past winter. Musicians and touring personnel were left with few options.
On June 7, Steel Panther and crew will reconvene at an undisclosed location in Southern California for the 'Concert to Save the World,' one of the first-ever full-scale, fully-live virtual ticketed quarantine concerts by a rock band.
There isn't much Steel Panther takes seriously, but the band has first-hand experience with the novel coronavirus. Guitarist Satchel tells Q104.3 New York's QN'A that the band is certain the virus is what sickened them and their crew during their European tour, supporting their latest album, Heavy Metal Rules, earlier this year.
"Strangely enough, when we were in Europe in January, everyone on our tour bus got sick, and I’m pretty sure we all got sick with COVID-19," he says. "Our singer got tested for antibodies, and he had it. We all had different reactions to it. Our tour manager got really knocked on his ass by it. But the rest of us, it felt kind of like a cold. So it can affect everybody differently."
'Concert to Save the World' will include a full live set by Steel Panther with full production, plus special guest performances and several giveaways, including SP merchandise, Satchel's signature guitar pedals, a Jambox, a guitar and a year's supply of Monster Energy Drink.
While the immediate goal of the show is to benefit abandoned pets and touring personnel affected by COVID-19, Satchel concedes that, as quarantine drags on, artists need to know if people are willing to pay admission to a virtual concert.
"When people are home, people are conditioned to get everything for free," he says. "So this is a test run for us; can we do a show online and actually get people to pay $10 - $15 to see it?
"It costs us money to do it. We’re paying our crew to be there, it doesn’t happen for free. People have got to realize that being entertained is going to cost money and people need to get used to maybe paying as much as they would for two lattes to see a show online. It’s not easy to do."
You all were in Europe before the pandemic closed everything. Were you already back when the shutdowns started happening?
We came back when …there was talk of it, but it wasn’t a big deal. There weren’t any [confirmed] cases yet, ‘cause this was like mid-February. It was right as they were starting to get information.
Strangely enough, when we were in Europe in January, everyone on our tour bus got sick, and I’m pretty sure we all got sick with COVID-19.
Our singer got tested for antibodies, and he had it. We all had different reactions to it. Our tour manager got really knocked on his ass by it. But the rest of us, it felt kind of like a cold. So it can affect everybody differently.
It wasn’t until months later — recently, that we came to that conclusion.
At the time you were sick, you had no inkling that you might have the novel coronavirus.
We had no clue that it could have been. We’d just heard that it was still basically in China. Now in retrospect it seems like it had been traveling the world since December.
Do you think it’s better that you didn’t know?
Totally. It definitely hit our tour manager like a ton of bricks. One day he was okay and the next he couldn’t get out of bed, so he isolated for a couple days. He ended up traveling — he didn’t know he had coronavirus either. He traveled home to the states and probably gave it to a hundred people on the way.
This quarantine gig you have coming up is raising money for Heavenly Pets and Crew Nation. How is your crew doing with all of this?
Obviously, Crew Nation is taking donations already — I’m sure a lot of people have already donated. [Our crew] is just like all the musicians out there. A lot people think that if you’re a musician and you have videos out that you live in a mansion and have a Ferrari.
Aside from me, most people don’t have that. Most musicians are pretty broke, just like the average American. So not being able to go do gigs is like, ‘Okay, I guess I’m just going to go sell oranges on the street corner like most people.’ It’s check-to-check. Our crew are just like us; if there’s no gigs, there’s not a way to pay the bills.
So we’re donating to them and we’re donating to a pet shelter in Los Angeles, because we love animals, and pets always need money. You can find all that stuff on SteelPantherRocks.com.
Those are good causes and important causes to us. We’re going to donate some of that money.
What are your expectations for the live-stream concert?
Of course, we have no idea how much money we’re going to raise. This is all brand new to us. Doing a show online is a strange thing because we’re so used to doing shows where people can see us live and be in the same room and go to a bar.
That’s a big part of what we do. People go out and we’re basically something to watch while they drink. When people are home, people are conditioned to get everything for free. So this is a test run for us; can we do a show online and actually get people to pay $10 - $15 to see it?
It costs us money to do it. We’re paying our crew to be there, it doesn’t happen for free. People have got to realize that being entertained is going to cost money and people need to get used to maybe paying as much as they would for two lattes to see a show online. It’s not easy to do.
I know you did the Kitten Cam for Heavenly Pets last month. You’ve been working with them for a while.
Yeah, a few months now. Some of the proceeds of what we do will go to them. It’s a pet rescue in Los Angeles, which is awesome. There’s a lot of people who live in L.A., and that means there’s a lot of abandoned pets out there.
Do you have an inkling as to how sales are for the show so far?
Well, I know there’s been hundreds of pre-sale already, but I don’t know what that’s going to translate to as far as total tickets sales. There’s no way for the show to sell out, so I can’t imagine why people would get the ticket in advance, except that they want to, which is great. It could be 2,000 people or it could be 2 million.
However many people show up, they’re going to get to see the greatest heavy metal band that’s ever lived — which is Steel Panther, obviously.
And most people will probably have nothing better to do.
A lot of people don’t have anything to do, and even people who have jobs can go online during the middle of the day.
It’s 2 p.m. Pacific on June 7. I figure, people in L.A. will be able to see it. People in New York will be able to see it (5 p.m. Eastern time). That’ll be like 10 p.m. in London. Even people in Australia — I think it’s like 7 a.m. in Sydney, which means all the people who’ve been up all night drinking will be able to watch it as well.
It’s just going to be a fun party. I’m excited about it.
You're doing some giveaways, too, correct?
Like every show that we do, we do a lot of improve. So you never know what’s going to happen, which is part of what makes a Steel Panther show fun.
There’s also going to be giveaways, like you said. We’re giving away three of our Butthole Burner foot pedals, which is awesome because those thing sell for like $200 a piece.
We’re also going to giveaway a guitar. We’re working with Monster Energy Drinks. They’re giving away a year’s supply of Monster Energy, which is awesome. I don’t know how much that is, ‘cause I drink like seven or eight of those a day. That’s a lot of Monster.
I’m sure a year's supply is at least enough to power your mansion for a while.
Yeah, my mansion actually runs on Monster Energy. And thankfully, I feed all my dogs and cats Monster Energy Drink as well. That’s why they’re so healthy.
We’re giving away a lot of stuff — a lot of Steel Panther merch as well. We have some special guests coming down.
I heard through the grapevine that Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, The Guess Who) might come down and jam, not just a song, but one of the songs that he played on. He played on one of our records — a lot of people don’t know that — he played on one of the songs on our Lower the Bar record and he’s going to come down and play it with us, I think.
It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a killer show. We might have some other people come down and jam with us, as well, which will be super cool.
How long is the set going to be?
Gonna be like seven or eight hours. No, maybe an hour and a half. If could be longer because I, as you know, have a tendency to ramble. It could go an hour and 45 minutes.
How do I put this politically correct? I don’t give a f—k. I don’t care how offended other people get at things people I say or I do because that’s part of the beauty of living in the United States of America.
I do find it ironic that some people were offended at the Pussy Melter foot pedal. If you take a little bit of time to look at the controversy, most of the people who were offended by the Pussy Melter, most of those people don’t know what the f—k we do, because if they did, they wouldn’t have found that pedal name at all controversial. Because we have song titles like “Asian Hooker” and “The Shocker.” We sing about all kinds of subject matter that seems more offensive than the Pussy Melter.
I’m not surprise that people got offended, because that’s the age that we live it. I’m quite happy about it because we now sell the pedals that we do and we make money on it, so it’s awesome.
Just like I can say anything that I want, people have the right to be offended by whatever they want.
...If there’s one thing that Steel Panther has always carried the torch for is free speech. Listen to any one of our albums.
I asked this of your bandmates last year, so I'll ask you as well. What’s your No. 1 Heavy Metal Rule?
Well, being a heavy metal guy, my number one heavy metal rule is to always put 100 percent into every performance that I do. I love to rock and I was born to rock. And of course, the better I play and the better I perform, the more chicks I’m going to get.
I always go out there and I put 100 percent in every show and that’s my goal. It’s all about performing for me and putting 100 percent in. I hate going to shows and seeing bands that don’t’ put 100 percent in or people that don’t engage with the audience.
I’ve always been proud that with Steel Panther, it doesn’t matter if there’s 10 people or 100,000, we’re going to put on the best show you’ve ever seen, and that’s what we’re going to do with this live show coming up.
Yeah, I can’t wait to go to shows in person again, but for now, this’ll have to do.
Yeah, hopefully it’ll be enough to keep people engaged. There’s a lot of people that are bored and sitting in their houses. They’re happy that they don’t have COVID-19, but they’re also just bored off their ass. They want to have a great time and go have some entertainment. This is going to be a live show and we’re going to totally engage our crowd.