Stix Zadinia — drummer for Los Angeles hair-metal revivalists Steel Panther — admits to feeling slightly conflicted about the recent movie “Rock of Ages,” starring Tom Cruise as a decadent rocker from the genre’s Sunset Strip-Guns N’ Roses heyday.
On one hand, he says, “It’s great to bring that kind of awareness to heavy metal from the ’80s, so I’m very appreciative and very stoked. We actually did an online promo with that movie, and it was a lot of fun.” But even when he was offered free passes, he still couldn’t bring himself to watch it. “I love chocolate in my peanut butter, but I don’t like concerts in my movies,” he says.
Zadinia — born Darren Leader, his bandmates also adopted similarly campy stage names such as Satchel, Michael Starr and Lexxi Foxx — is clear on Steel Panther’s retro concept, though.
For more than a decade, the fun foursome — who appear at the Regency Ballroom on Thursday — have shamelessly worn Spandex and Warrant-huge hair in concert, and they appropriated Poison’s pointy font for their logo and Kiss and The Misfits emblems for their merchandise.
Through a Hollywood nightclub residency, they have acquired a star-studded following that includes Scott Ian, Gene Simmons, Joe Elliott and Stephen Pearcy, who appeared on their recent sophomore recording, “Balls Out.”
Initially known as Danger Kitty, Steel Panther started as a glam-rock tribute outfit.
“But we just happened to get really good at songwriting, and then our shows kind of took on a life of their own,” says Zadinia, 47. Now they crank out so many double-entendre anthems, AC/DC is probably jealous.
There’s “Weenie Ride,” “17 Girls in a Row” (“We could be talking about working at a hot dog stand and helping 17 girls in a row,” Zadinia says, innocently) and “It Won’t Suck Itself,” which might concern a vacuum cleaner.
Some songs, like “Gold Digging Whore,” tell it like it is. But make no mistake — Steel Panther is all about the women.
“At our gigs, the hair is high and the pants are tight, and not just on band members. There are chicks who really go for it,” says Zadinia, who employs “a pants chick and a shirt-and-vest chick” to design his costumes. “They want to party and they want to live the music.”
Zadinia says it’s no randy act. He’s a single Panther, on the prowl.
“There’s no ball and chain — I’m just freeballing,” he says. “You know how when you wear pants with no underwear, it’s called going commando? I go commando. In life.”