Sunday, December 11, 2011

INTERVIEW: Steel Panther

by Chad Cooper (Dec. 2011)

Steel Panther is the greatest band on the planet. Wait. Check that — Steel Panther is the greatest band in the galaxy.

Spawned in Los Angeles, this four-piece may have began playing parody covers but have since grown into a band of their own and are now touring in support of their second national release on Universal Records, Balls Out, which ‘dropped’ in late October.

The sophomore record is a follow-up to Feel the Steel that featured the popular tunes “Death to All But Metal,” “Asian Hooker” and “Community Property.”

Like the debut, Balls Out doesn’t disappoint. Songs like “17 Girls in a Row,” “If You Really, Really Love Me,” “It Won’t Suck Itself” and “Just Like Tiger Woods” proves this band is for keeps.

From weekly shows on the Sunset Strip to headlining arenas in Great Britain, Australia and Germany, Steel Panther is taking over.

Michael Starr - vocals

Satchel - lead guitar

Lexxi Foxxx - bass

Stix Zadinia - drums

I caught up with lead vocalist Michael Starr, who spoke about not having herpes, playing on the moon and doing 25 girls in a row.

I’ve seen you guys several times but I will never forget the show in January at House of Blues in Vegas where a girl’s top got ripped off, which started a fight on stage.

Oh wow! You were there for that? My friend Tommy had to take that feisty chick off stage. She pulled the other girl’s top down and then a chick with no shirt tackled her on stage. So Awesome.

You have a personal favorite song on the new album?

Leaning towards ‘Tomorrow Night.’ It reminds me of super early Scorpions meets Van Halen, sort of like ‘Panama.’

I like ‘What Can’t You Trust Me.’

Yeah, Facebook makes it hard for you to cheat on your old lady. That’s why Twitter is so much popular. It’s more private and you can lock down people. Myspace was the worst. I honestly think that’s why it’s gone. It’s true shit.

When you started, did you imagine Steel Panther would go mainstream?

No, I truly didn’t. I wanted it to happen, but I just didn’t see it coming. I think that is what attracts people to Steel Panther. It’s not fake. It’s cool to see what kind of vehicle to build and then what kind of race to enter. I did read where the album charted. Dude, I’m having a hard time breathing. I read this while I was sitting there taking a shit. I thought, I am on the toilet and people all over the world are listening to our music right now. It’s pretty weird.

How does it feel to know the album is really doing well?

Man, I got to be honest with you. My chest is all tight. I’m not sleeping very well because I am so excited to tour and support this record. When our first record came out, we didn’t have any expectations. Now we have the follow up (Balls Out) to Feel the Steel. I personally feel pressure to be the best I can really be.

How do mainstream rock fans & bands react when they hear or see Steel Panther?

Throughout the years, we have had multiple guests come on stage and rock it out with us. Cee-Lo, Kelly Clarkson, Linkin Park, GNR, everyone just enjoys it. I’m extremely surprised people dig it.

On the song ‘17 Girls in a Row,’ could you not make it past 17?

It’s funny you say that because we write all these songs together. I am singing them, so it’s first person. Satchel is the one who fucked 17 and couldn’t make it to 18. I personally did 25, but unfortunately 25 doesn’t work well in the song. Either 17 or 25, you have to lower your bar some to get to that number. No, you aren’t going to fuck 17 prom queens, it’s not happening. You got to fuck a couple of fat chicks and maybe even a retarded chick.

So what you are saying is — Steel Panther doesn’t discriminate.

Fat chicks and ugly girls are the best to hang out with. Hot chicks are annoying and the only thing they are good for is a picture. If you get a homely chick and bend her over, she looks the same as a hot chick who is bent over.

I heard a rumor that you are the only band member who doesn’t have herpes.

I don’t know where you heard that but it’s totally true. The other three guys have it and you know what? I am bummed. I feel left out.

I also heard that you have a keen sense of smell.

When I was younger, my mom always knew when I pooped in my pants. I developed her keen since of smell. She used to call me ‘stinkpot’ because I had a problem with that. I can smell cocaine, seriously, I can. I can smell an 8-ball of cocaine and tell you how bad it’s cut. Goes with girls too. Girls with really bad hygiene, I have a really hard time fucking them. If I have to do it, I will.

When did your poop problems end?

Maybe when I was 10. In my 30s, I had trouble with sharting. Do you know what that is? That’s when you fart and you don’t realize you have diarrhea. Shitting and farting together.

What would be an ultimate tour?

Van Halen, Scorpions, Def Leppard Motley Crue and Dokken.

So what’s left for Steel Panther?

I try to read all the comments everyone posts about us and so forth and one thing about Steel Panther, you either love us or hate us. West Coast, Las Vegas, United Kingdow, we got it going on. With this new record, we are selling out shows in Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, New York and Australia. The natural progression for Steel Panther, in my eyes, is to be a full-blown arena band touring the world. And to be the first band to play on the moon. I’d leave a petri dish with herps up there as a memento.

Official Steel Panther Web site

Steel Panther Facebook

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Click here to purchase Steel Panther music

Sunday, November 6, 2011

INTERVIEW: Doug Stanhope

by Chad Cooper (Nov. 7, 2011)

There’s not much that can be said that hasn’t already when it comes to Doug Stanhope. His resume includes running for President in 2008, appearing at every major comedy festival, co-hosting The Man Show with Joe Rogan, recording more than 10 albums and DVDs, and authoring a book. He recently appeared on the FX television show Louie with Louis C.K. and earlier this year signed with Roadrunner Records and released Oslo: Burning The Bridge To Nowhere, which was filmed in Norway.

Stanhope has a handful of dates remaining on the tour, which includes one show at The Improv in Houston on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online by clicking HERE.

The remaining tour dates include Oklahoma City (Nov. 10, City Arts Center), Dallas (Nov. 17, Trees), Austin (Nov. 18, Red 7), Irvine, Calif. (Nov. 30, Irvine Improv), Brea, Calif. (Dec. 1, Brea Improv) and the finale in Tuscon (Dec. 10, Rialto Theatre).

Before the interview began, Stanhope lashed out with, “Just don’t ask me where do I get my ideas from and what made me want to be a comedian and we’ll be fine.” Typical Stanhope.

How do you process all this material?

You know what, I have no idea. My brain must work organically.

It’s amazing how you do it. I was watching ‘Oslo’ and you coughed in the middle of a sentence and you mentioned it was a death cough. A super reaction. Your brain must be soaked with information.

Soaked would be the accurate word, but not necessarily with information.

Are you still a firm believer that pussy is the No. 1 factor we deal with?

Oh, yes. Everything is driven by it. It’s the fuel that runs the machine. I’m glad I don’t care anymore, but at the same time, I probably wouldn’t be successful if it weren’t for that. It’s always the root cause and that’s why I am so fucking lazy now. There’s no one to impress.

I recently heard you on Howard Stern with your girlfriend and you seemed happy. Are you still with her?

Yeah, it’s a perfect match. I’ve never been in a relationship where I could honestly say that. You have to say it (in) most relationships because she is going to read the interview. Sometimes you can’t be honest like you used to be because you would be ratting them out. Like going out and doing mushrooms with your buddy but his a firefighter and you have to change a little bit of the story and say you were in Sacramento instead of Oklahoma City. You know his friends are reading up updates on my Web site. Like this guy brought his prostitute girlfriend to a show of mine and I can’t say that because he’s got a wife and kids at home. The Internet has ruined all secret keeping.

You’ve done some random things like picking up hitchhikers and so forth. What’s the last random thing you’ve done?

You get to a place where you don’t notice things are out of sorts. When in-laws come over for Thanksgiving you notice you are a little different that other people. I remember one girlfriend I was dating, her mother was coming to meet me for the first time and we had been together for about a year or so. The mother was prudish and homebound, so I had to de-porn my house. There is a really funny comedian from Austin named Brendon Walsh. He drew a picture of a guy with 13 cocks dangling in his face and the caption read ‘baker’s dozen’ and I put it on my refrigerator. I forgot to take it down when my brother brought his kids over. Here's a picture of 13 cocks at eye level with the kids and I didn’t realize it the whole time they were here.

Are you a big fan of porn?

I rarely watch it. If I have to beat off, I’ll throw on a quick clip on YouTube. Years ago, I was in Vegas and hosted the porn awards and it was one of the most saddest things I’ve done. When I got there, I thought it was going to be hilarious fun, but you see how serious they take themselves and they were having no fun at all. They were nervous, edgy and snappy. They actually wanted to win.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

People think I party more than I actually do. They will come to the house for the first time and think it’s going to be a Hunter S. Thompson experience. I’m a pretty boring guy. I do a lot of nothing really well.

You’ve mentioned before that you love Vodka. What’s your favorite kind?

I change them up quiet often but normally it’s Vodka with grapefruit.

Having a drink help you on stage?

The last time I remembering performing sober was 2003. It was a random college that didn’t allow drinking. Glad I only had to do 25 minutes. That’s one of the few shows I can remember in the last decade.

You talk about things, not just what other comedians won’t discuss, but other people refuse to talk about like losing your sex drive. Are you comfortable discussing those things?

I gravitate towards those things. I wish I had something else to tell you that would be off-putting, but I haven’t done much in the last couple of years.

Your fan base in the UK is off the charts and you’ve said that they are far more brutal that comedy fans over here in the U.S. Why so?

They are comedy savvy and they treat comedy like an art form. If you have a bad show over there, it makes the paper. Over here, people go to birthday parties or adult Chuck E. Cheeses for fun times.

What is more of a problem — overpopulation or public stupidity?

Overpopulation is kind of a world thing. People are in their own little worlds now with all these distractions like gadget phones, Twitter, Facebook, apps on phones, 300 channels and shit. What was the question again?

Well, I’ve heard you mention both of these in one of your shows. I didn’t know if you thought one was more relevant than the other.

(Laughs). In the long run, it will be over population. But I won’t be around to deal with and I’m not leaving any litter behind so I won’t give a shit.

Would you ever consider doing television again?

Doing 'Louie' with Louis C.K. was a lot of fun. I hate the thought of acting, it disturbs you and it wasn’t a fun process for me. Doing it with Louis made it different than most because usually it’s cringing thinking how much they must fucking hate the decision they made to hire me.

What’s next on the agenda for Doug Stanhope?

I’ll have another DVD coming out for Christmas and have a rough outline for another one after that. I’m going to Iceland to hang out with the mayor of Reykjavik for a week and that’s inspiring. Another friend of mine said he was going and a friend of mine who is a comedian got elected mayor on a goof when their economy shit the bed. So I sent him an email telling him we should meet and sign some documents of historic significance. I’m going to perform in a prison over there too. I didn’t want to do a show while I was there because shows fuck up vacations. A prison is different because there won’t be any critics and I can do all my old shit. I can ruin the show and it wouldn’t hurt my demographic.

Official Doug Stanhope Web site

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Doug's YouTube Channel

Sunday, October 23, 2011

INTERVIEW: Theory of a Deadman

by Chad Cooper (Oct. 24, 2011)

Following the highly successful third album Scars and Souvenirs, which reached platinum status and saw an unprecedented nine of its 12 tracks released to radio, Canadian rockers Theory of a Deadman have returned to the road in support of their fourth project titled The Truth Is ... via Roadrunner Records.

The album was released in July and has already hit No. 1 on three of the Billboard charts (hard rock, rock, alternative), and the first single, “Lowlife,” gave the band its second No. 1 song. “Out of My Head” and “Bitch Came Back” have been the second and third singles sent to radio.

Theory of a Deadman formed in 2001, and their debut album was a self-titled record in 2002 that was produced and co-written by Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.

Gasoline was the sophomore release and produced the hit tunes “No Surprise,” “Say Goodbye” and the ballad “Santa Monica.”

For those who hadn’t heard the band up until 2008 certainly took notice when the second single of Scars and Souvenirs came out, “Bad Girlfriend.” The catchy song not only hit No. 1 on the charts, but also became one of the most popular ringtones of all time.

Other popular titles include “So Happy,” “By the Way,” “All or Nothing,” “Hate My Life,” “Not Meant to Be,” “By the Way” and “End of the Summer.”

Constantly on the road, the tour-heavy boys from north of the border have played with the likes of Mötley Crüe on Crüe Fest 2, Daughtry, Avalanche Tour with Stone Sour and are fresh off the 2011 Carnival of Madness with Alter Bridge.

We spoke with lead singer Tyler Connolly about a variety of subjects including the new album, co-writing with former American Idol judge and hit maker Kara DioGuardi and even recording music with a homeless banjo picker.

Any added pressure going into the studio to record the new album after all the success from ‘Scars and Souvenirs?’

Yes, it was. I would by lying if I said there wasn’t, but it was good pressure. I don’t think I lost much sleep, but there was some stress. Once you have success like that, then you want to keep it going. There’s a lot of thinking involved in what direction you want to go in. Like do you want to keep it the same and have another “Bad Girlfriend” song? Those songs have done well for us but you don’t want to release five records and they all sound like the same tiring stuff. With this album, there was a balance to be made and a lot more thought. The last three records, we just wrote songs and put them on a record.

Listening to this album, the lyrics seem more personal.

I went through a marital break-up, which was devastating for me. My manager said he had been through a few divorces and it’s the toughest time of your life, but it makes for a great rock record. It’s really good material for the fans because they can relate to it. Fans like the songs that are the most honest and most relatable.

I noticed in the last album, Kara DioGuardi helped co-write a song; she starred in the video and helped you write three songs on this record. How was it working with a female songwriter? It was different. Up until that point on the last album, I never worked with any songwriters per say. Chad (Kroeger), who produced our first record, helped co-write some songs with us on the first album. She had written a lot of songs for pop artists like Britney Spears, Pink, Enrique Iglesias, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani, but she had never written a song for a rock band. She was probably just as curious as I was. She actually lives about a mile from my house in Los Angeles and I went over there with my guitar, drank some wine and wrote “Meant to Be.” After we finished it, I sent it to her and she immediately said it was a hit so, so I was like, OK, let’s see what happens. This record, it just made since to do the same. It would have been stupid not to call her up again and work with her again.

It also seems the band has a great relationship with producer Howard Benson. He has a great resume and has been with you since the second record.

Working with him is great, but the first record with him was tough. We didn’t have a lot of experience with producers. Once we got past the personalities and the creative stuff, it turned out to be an amazing partnership and friendship with him. That’s why we have done three records with him. A lot of people say you shouldn’t use the same producer, but this feels great for us.

Do you have a personal favorite on the album?

Probably “We Were Men,” which is the last track. It’s the first time I have ever written a military song. We travel a lot and have a lot of military fans that do come to the show. I remember once, we met some guys and he said the next day he was getting shipped out to Afghanistan. We also heard some not-so-good ones. One guy told me that he saw us two years ago with his buddy, who had since died in Iraq. I think it was time in my career to write a song like that. During a recent meet-and-greet, a fan who was in the Air Force said that was his favorite song. It was like the first time I didn’t write a relationship song or something goofy.

Did you guys really record a song with a homeless man?

Yeah. Well, I don’t know if he was homeless, but he sure did look like it. He was on the street corner playing a banjo outside the studio and while I walked to the store to grab a drink, I started talking to him and gave him some money. I went back inside the studio and told the guys this old dude was outside jamming on the banjo, and they said well bring him inside. I had to call our manager and call our lawyers and make sure all this paperwork was signed just to come in and play banjo on a song. He ended up making about $800 for about a half hour’s work. You can hear it on “What Was I Thinking.”

You guys are tour heavy. How do you deal with the burnout factor?

It’s easy to get burned out, but playing each night for fans is our drug that keeps us going.

3 Doors Down, Theory of a Deadman & Pop Evil will perform at Ford Arena on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $42.50, $38.50 and $34. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

INTERVIEW: 3 Doors Down

by Chad Cooper (Oct. 23, 2011)

With more than 16 million records sold, it’s hard to argue that 3 Doors Down doesn’t belong atop of any list. The southern boys from Mississippi — well, most of them anyway — last played Beaumont’s Ford Arena in 2009. But no matter how and when they play here, their popularity continues to soar.

3 Doors Down is touring in support of their summer release Time of My Life, which is the band’s fifth studio album on Universal Records and produced by Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson. Three singles from the record have been in radio rotation including “When You’re Young,” “Every Time You Go” and “What’s Left.”

With six No. 1 songs, which include “Kryptonite,” “Loser,” “Duck and Run,” “When I’m Gone,” “Here Without You” and “It’s Not My Time,” 3 Doors Downs appeals to more than just a rock audience.

The band has gained other fans from other genres including country and modern rock. Drummer Greg Upchurch joined 3 Doors Down in 2005 right after the release of Seventeen Days. Upchurch, like the band, has southern roots as he was born in Houma, La., and is no stranger to the music world.

After moving from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, Upchurch joined the bands Eleven and Puddle of Mudd before auditioning for the position with 3DD.

Upchurch spoke with us before the hitting the road for the Time of My Life Tour. The tour will play Beaumont TX @ Ford Park on Friday, Oct. 28.

I read where you got a key to the city in Oklahoma City.

Ha! The program director for the radio station 100.5 The KATT set that up. I was a little shocked, to say the least. I guess the expectations for Oklahoma City were a little low then.

When did drumming become a part of your life?

I started with pots and pans mostly. People asked me when I started playing, but I have no clue. If I had to guess it was probably 4 or 5 years old. Musically as a kid, KISS did it for me. I would play along with the records and when I really started focusing on drums, I got into Led Zeppelin. John Bonham (drummer) was the man.

Why did you choose to leave Oklahoma for Los Angeles?

I wanted to do something musical and Oklahoma was tough to break through musically, so I thought either New York or L.A. I really didn’t want to do New York because the pace is so much different, so I chose L.A. and got a job at The Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard. I met some people in a band called Eleven and their drummer quit to join Pearl Jam, so I auditioned and got the gig with them. I was literally in L.A. for six months and then found myself opening up for Soundgarden in Europe.

So were you a natural fit when you started jamming with 3 Doors Down?

They are from Mississippi and I remember showing up for the audition for drummer with a New Orleans Saints camouflage cap on, so that alone was a step in the right direction. Everything was in L.A. then, but it was an opportunity for me to actually leave the West Coast. It’s so expensive, and money doesn’t go very far there. Now I live in Nashville, and this is much more my speed. I got everything I needed out there. It’s been a long ride. But I’m content now.

You came in after the third record but did tour to support it. How does this new one compare to the collection?

I think this sounds like the first record, “The Better Life,” to me. It’s like going back to their original roots. My favorite track on this new album is “Time of My Life.” It’s a fun song to play on the drums.

It’s a competitive industry, so how does 3DD keep its head above water?

One thing is songwriting obviously, and Brad (Arnold) has a distinct voice that you can listen to. He actually sings, not screams. This music appeals to any age. It’s not pigeonholed to a certain market. Plus, we have extremely loyal fans.

I read somewhere that you played a show or two with Heart.

Yeah, it was awesome and wild. I did it on two-days notice. Then, the bass player for Heart was the bass player for Chris Cornel when I toured with Chris. He called and asked me to fill in for their drummer and I said sure, but when? He said well, it’s two days. The first time I played with Heart was during a 20-minute sound check, which was for an hour and a half set. I knew all their songs, like “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man,” but I never dreamed I would play those songs with them.

Ford Park SRO opens at 5 p.m. for a pre-show experience featuring Texas Guardsman CW3 Darby Ledbetter, plus various military equipment and combat and rescue vehicles on display. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

MMA Blog - Vol 1, Issue 1 - Jones vs. Rampage

by Chad Cooper (9-23-11)

UFC 135 pits light heavyweight Jon "Bones" Jones (13-1) vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (32-8) live on pay-per-view.

Turning to my resident UFC expert and 17-year-old nephew Kasey Cooper (Twitter: @thekaseycooper) for his main event report:

Jones is the youngest UFC champ in history (so far, hehe), and has the longest reach in UFC history as well, at 84.5 inches. He made quick work of legendary Muay Thai fighter Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the title, and has notable victories over Ryan Bader, Stephan Bonnar, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Brandon Vera.

Jackson is an MMA veteran who has beaten such fighters as Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, and Keith Jardine. He has heavy hands and good wrestling to complement his iron chin, however his chin did show weaknesses against Lyoto Machida even though he went on to a controversial split decision win.

REACH: Jones by far has more reach than Rampage, and since punching is Rampage's bread and butter, Jones gets the edge.

EXPERIENCE: Rampage gets the edge. He has fought the best in the business in the UFC and Pride.

As far as versatility in striking, as well as technique, Jones gets the edge.

POWER: Rampage, hands down, has more power than the champ. Rampage.

WRESTLING: Jackson has good wrestling, but Jones has proven that he has top notch skills. Jones.

SUBMISSIONS: While Jackson technically holds more submission wins, I believe that Jones has better submission skills. Rampage's last submission victory was in 2003. I give the edge to Jones.

CARDIO/ENDURANCE: Jackson has been in many wars with tough fighters but, to be honest, he's getting old. As shown in the fights against Machida and Matt Hamill, he doesn't have the endurance he used to have. Against the much younger, and faster, Jones, I don't think you can compare.

Jones has my favor in 5 out of the 7 categories that I believe will be most important in this fight. That gives him about a 70% chance of winning, compared to Jackson's 30%.

Jackson's only chance in this fight would be to corner the champ, get in close, and land power punches. However, with the long reach of Jones, it wont be easy. Just ask Shogun...

WINNER: Jon Jones by TKO in the later rounds (4th or 5th). The reason I believe it will happen in the later rounds is because of Jones' young athleticism; I believe Jackson will be worn out by then. This should be an entertaining fight, but I do expect Jones to win.