Steel Panther Drummer Stix Zadinia on ‘Heavy Metal Rules,’ the State of Rock + More

2019-09-04

Steel Panther – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by David Jackson

Steel Panther drummer Stix Zadinia speaks with Anne Erickson about the band’s new album, ‘Heavy Metal Rules,’ his thoughts on the most influential hair metal band of all time and more in this new interview

If there’s a band out there that champions the idea that “Heavy Metal Rules,” it’s Steel Panther. The guys came up the hard way, playing countless shows on the Sunset Strip and championing a pure, glam metal sound.

Today, Steel Panther is one of the hottest live tickets around. The guys are not only solid musicians, but they also have hilarious, larger-than-life stage shows to go with it.

Steel Panther releases their latest album, appropriately titled “Heavy Metal Rules,” on Sept. 27, and it features the band’s characteristically un-politically correct lyrics along with killer instrumentation.

Steel Panther drummer Stix Zadinia spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink about “Heavy Metal Rules,” the importance of the band’s live shows, the current state of metal music and why Def Leppard is the most influential hair metal band of all time. Read the full interview below, and listen via the YouTube player.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on your new record on the way, “Heavy Metal Rules.” I think that title really says it all—it’s a great title. Why did you name this record “Heavy Metal Rules?”

Stix Zadinia: I’m glad that you like the title. Titles are important to us. We’ve been saying “Heavy Metal Rules” for 30 years. When somebody said, and I can’t remember who it was, but when one of us said, “Why don‘t we call it ‘Heavy Metal Rules?'” It was right in front of us the whole time, and I cannot believe we have not called an earlier album “Heavy Metal Rules.” We’ve been saying it, so now, we’ve permanently etched it in writing this album, and I’m really proud of that.

How would you describe the writing process of “Heavy Metal Rules?” Was it different from what you guys have done in the past?

No. Every band does stuff a bit differently, and we always have the same approach when it comes to writing. There’s never a deliberate time when we go, “Okay, now let’s create.” We’re always constantly writing. … It starts anywhere from being on the road, or it’s a text saying, “Hey, we should write a song called this,” or it’s a riff, and we’re always writing. So, for us, the process didn’t change. It’s always going. We never shut it off.

I think something that really stands out on this album is Steel Panther’s musicianship. You guys are great players. Do you think that sometimes your musicianship gets overshadowed because everybody is into your larger-than-life stage show?

That’s a really good question. Maybe? But with this record, I think people are going to hear what you’re hearing on it. This record is more technical, and I think what people don’t realize is that we’re musicians first. We all started playing our instruments when we were kinds, and when you are in a band like Steel Panther and the stage show is so big and bombastic and crazy, maybe it can be overlooked, but I don’t think it will be overlooked when people hear this record.

What are you most excited about when it comes to releasing “Heavy Metal Rules?”

Kind of what I just mentioned. For people to hear these songs. There’s no filler on this record. I don’t feel like there’s any skip-age on this record. I feel like it’s time for a record like this, just because of all of the PC (politically correct) police out there, and I think this one is going to feel sharper to people who are super sensitive, but we haven’t changed what we’ve done. I think the culture has gotten more sensitive. You’re going to hear people say, “You can’t say that!”

You guys, of course, are touring with “Heavy Metal Rules,” and Steel Panther is known to be a great live band. How important is the live show to Steel Panther’s success?

I think that’s why we’ve been able to have a career. People don’t sell albums anymore, because you have all the streaming, and nobody wants to buy stuff you can get essentially for free, so if your live show isn’t killer, then people aren’t going to come back and see you the next time. They’re going to say, “They phoned it in,” or, “They weren’t that good.” For us, it’s crucial that we kill live. And we came up playing six, seven nights a week, regular weekly shows, so going out and playing live is what we do. We also happen to put records out. We go play live, and then we put records out, also.

What is your favorite thing about performing live?

Making people stoked. Making people rock. Giving people an escape from their regular and mundane lives. I have it, too. When I’m off the road, if there was a band that went, hey come be a freak for a night, I’d be like, I’m going there! Because everyone wants to escape.

Aside from Steel Panther, who do you think is the most influential hair metal band of all time?

Winger. I think Winger … maybe not everyone’s most influential band, but definitely mine. Their songs– I think they were one of those underrated bands, because Kip Winger always had a 5 o’clock shadow, and I feel that got more attention than his songs, but if you really listen to his songs, they’re not easy to play. There are big hooks, and for me, maybe the question I would answer with Winger is who is the most underrated hair metal band of all time. But, who’s the most influential hair metal band? Probably Def Leppard. They set the bar and then they changed the bar and then changed the bar again.

What are your thoughts on the state of rock and metal music? Some people say it’s dead, but I disagree, and so do most bands I’ve interviewed.

Well, it isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t think rock n’ roll is dead by any stretch of the imagination. Like the other musicians you’ve interviewed, when you’re out there at the festivals and playing shows, people are buying tickets and coming to shows. I think rock ‘n’ roll album sales are maybe dead, but people want to come and have a good time, and they’re coming to shows and into it. As long as you’re putting good records out and good music and good songs, it will stay alive and it will thrive.

What’s next for Steel Panther?

We’re going to do an Australian tour next year and filming a lot of stuff for our YouTube channel, Steel Panther TV, and we’re working on a television series and always writing music, so we’re doing a lot of things to stay entertaining and stay creative.

Did you say Steel Panther is working on a TV series?

Yeah, that’s a goal of ours! We’re in discussions with a production company right now, and to have a TV show would be amazing or a feature film, a Steel Panther feature, would be pretty amazing, and we’re doing everything we can to make those things happen. We want to do it all.

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