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Steel Panther: Is the joke starting to wear thin?

Steel Panther have defied the odds to become one of modern metal’s biggest bands. But is the joke starting to get old?

Steel Panther are an enigma. Ostensibly a pastiche of 1980s glam metal, their huge success in the UK means they’re now every bit as big as the bands they’re paying pitch-perfect homage to. Their videos feature A-list comedians, they’ve sold out Wembley Arena twice in as many years, and they’ve not only graced the cover of this very magazine, but have hosted our annual Golden Gods awards twice. Plus, in an accelerated culture where bands often live or die on the basis of one album, they’re about to release their fourth. If Steel Panther are a joke, the laughter should have died out years ago. But instead, it just keeps growing. As the guys stretch out their sweatbands to prepare for the release of Lower The Bar, it’s time to shake off the spandex, drop the lipstick and get serious: just how the hell did this happen?

“I never, ever thought we would be playing Wembley, let alone selling it out. I never thought that would happen.” The man born Ralph Saenz, but more commonly known as Steel Panther frontman Michael Starr, is upfront about his surprise at the band’s stellar ascent from playing covers every Monday night on the Los Angeles club scene, and regardless of how seriously you take Steel Panther, or how seriously you think a band with a song called Bukkake Tears should take themselves, know this: they may earn their keep wearing spandex and singing about orgies in retirement homes, but Panther take the process behind the perversion very seriously indeed.

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