Steel Panther Frontman Says He Misses His Bandmates: “We Love Each Other”
Steel Panther frontman Michael Starr was our guest on the most recent episode of The Quarantinecast, and we covered topics ranging from his love of Van Halen to how the lockdown has affected him and his band.
Alright, we talked a lot about Van Halen — Michael’s #1 forever — including Sammy Hagar’s recent optimism about a reunion, Michael’s story about meeting David Lee Roth, and the time he was asked to fill in for DLR to perform his solo material with the original Eat ‘Em and Smile band.
But, as we usually do on The Quarantinecast, we also spoke about more somber issues. Among the more touching moments of the conversation was the revelation that Starr misses his bandmates, and he misses ’em bad.
On adjusting to the new normal of lockdown life and its double-edged sword of stress and freedom:
“And it was so stressful, man. It kicked my ass, I was freaking out. Oh my god, what are we going to do? What’s happening?
“I gotta be honest with you man, after about three or four weeks, the stress level went down, the reality of where we’re at as a nation, as a world… I got adjusted to the schedule and I found myself busy. I started getting more creative, I have more time to do things I would normally put out of my mind cause, ‘Oh, I don’t have time to do that, I’m too busy.’
“And now I start hearing about stuff opening up but I’m like, ‘Oh my god, its so stressful! We’re opening up!’
On missing his bandmates:
“I miss the connection with other human beings, and I miss performing so much. And I realized that I need a lot of attention. [laughs] And I’m not getting the amount of attention I’m used to getting. So I started vaping too, and I notice I’m vaping way more and I’m trying to talk to people and I’m Zooming all the time. And I realize that, oh my god, I really miss this move right here. [picks up mic and yells a high-pitched “yeeeeeeah!”] I think I replaced the microphone with a fuckin’ vape so now I’m like, I gotta quit smoking this vape, right?
“It’s been stressful but I’ve adapted to it, like we do as human beings, but change is very difficult. Like I was telling you earlier about that Master Tour schedule [tour management software], I really enjoy having a schedule. It makes me feel comfortable. And without it, I’ve kind of been just doing whatever I want and it’s just been a huge change, for me personally.
“Just not even being next to the guys on a regular basis has been such an adjustment. We start pitting against each other and thinking, ‘I don’t like this guy’ and ‘I don’t like him,’ but then we get on the phone and we’re like, ‘Aww, we love each other… what’s up dude?’
“I really, really miss the camaraderie between us because I would say probably 60% of my life is touring. Then being home, and doing the home stuff. But now it’s all home, so that’s a big change as well. I miss that part of my life because it’s a big part of the passion that drives me as a human being, playing music. So it’s been tough, dude.”
On reconsidering the Sammy Hagar era of Van Halen in hindsight, and his last show before the lockdown being David Lee Roth opening for Kiss:
That is such a hot topic. What a great one to talk about, because I love Van Halen. Obviously the David Lee Roth era is my favorite Van Halen era but after I grew up a little bit and was able to reflect on that era, I really, I enjoyed the Van Halen 5150 record when it first came out. After that I kind of got disinterested but looking back it’s all great material. And even Van Halen’s original record with David Lee Roth [2012’s A Different Kind of Truth], all the old demos they redid. That was really cool! I love Van Halen so much that I will take whatever they give.
“I was right there in the front row for David Lee Roth when he opened up for Kiss at the Staples Center and that was the last show I went to. Last show before the quarantine. It was killer, man. I was like a little kid in the front: I literally could touch the stage from where I was standing. I just wanted him [David Lee Roth] to look at me. But I don’t think he could see me ’cause he might need glasses now. He was just kind of like [motioning with arms someone who cannot see in front of them] But I was like, DAVE! DAVE!”
Listen to the full chat below via either the audio or YouTube embed.