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Steel Panther’s Satchel on Lower the Bar & Why Guitar is the Coolest Instrument in the World

Steel Panther
Photo Credit: David Jackson

Steel Panther is known for its over-the-top lyrics, high energy live shows, and songs with hooks that stay burrowed in your head for weeks. At the heart of those hooks is Satchel, a guitar player who continues to push the envelope on each album. Hand in hand with his over-the-top personality is his deep love and passion for guitar playing, which continues to drive his creativity as it pertains to the art of guitar.  

Recently, I talked to Satchel about his role in Steel Panther, how he manages to innovate and write songs with a unique sound, and which side of the Atlantic has better fans.

As is usually the case when you get guitar players together, the conversation naturally turns to gear, songwriting, and the little things that keep you going

Satchel thanks for talking to us today. Your new record Lower the Bar is out, and I thought it was phenomenal.

No problem, happy to be here, and thank you! That means a lot.

Starting off, how can you describe Steel Panther, especially to someone who might not have heard of the band before?

Well, it’s not easy to do. But I would have to say, if you’ve never seen Steel Panther, we are the best fucking band that ever lived on planet earth. Heavy metal rules, and we are the embodiment of awesomeness. I think that pretty much sums it up.

Lower the Bar

Being the best heavy metal band on earth, you need the best guitar player on earth. How did you get started playing the guitar?

I started playing years and years, decades, decades ago. Like a lot of kids back in ’70s and ’80s, there was a lot of guitar stuff coming out. It all started with Jimi Hendrix. Then there was Black Sabbath and all the heavier stuff in the ’70s. Then Van Halen came out in 1978, and everybody went, woah, what is that? There was a lot of cool guitar playing coming out back then, Richie Blackmore was doing cool stuff.

These days, there isn’t a lot of music that is full of rock guitar, and so we have to ask ourselves, “How do we get back to that?” For me, being a kid in the 70s and 80s, it was so easy to be into it and be influenced by that.

I picked up the guitar, because it was obviously the coolest instrument in the world, and still is. Let’s face it, it sounds cooler than all the other instruments. You’re gonna get way more pussy playing the guitar than any other instrument. It looks way cooler on you than any other instrument, and you can do awesome things with the guitar. You can get all kind of sounds, paint it cool colors. It was the obvious instrument to pick, and I don’t regret it. And of course, the coolest musicians throughout history have all been guitar players. All the cool ones, all guitar players.

Moving to Lower the Bar, this album seems to have a little something extra in terms of guitar tone, mixing, and your approach to playing. What new things did you bring to the writing and recording of the album, and how do you find inspiration?

Well, first of all, I appreciate that a lot. I do my best to try to do new things. There was new tunings on this record, a lot of things that are different from the other records. And because you are a guitar player, you noticed that when you listened to that. It’s not easy, when you are always putting out new records over and over, and I don’t want to release records that I feel are repetitive. I always focus on the song first, and I want to be able to listen to a song and get off on it. No matter what is going with the guitar, even if the guitar is very simple, I want the song to move me, and I want to bang my head, I want to like a song. I want to be able to remember the song, so I’m looking for hooks mostly.

There are some new tunings like on the song “That’s When You Came In.” That’s one of the most simple songs we’ve ever written, and it came from tuning my guitar to the DADGAD tuning. Sometimes when you tune that it’ll just help you get out of the normal guitar player mindset. When you are tuned to standard (EADGBE), there are certain chords you gravitate to…you know everyone has different chords that they like. You have those cool tricks up your sleeve that you tend to go to. But sometimes it’s really good to get away from that.

After you’ve written 100 or 200 songs they start to sound similar, and it’s good to break out of that. So the tuning can inspire you, and it can make you view the guitar neck differently. You don’t always know what it’s going to sound like when you put your fingers down because you are so used to visualizing the fretboard in a certain way, and the notes being in certain spot. All of a sudden those notes are in a different spot, and it can be a really fun thing to do. I highly recommend that.

Jimmy Page was the king of that, Led Zeppelin was the king. I remember being younger and trying to figure out the chords to “Rain Song” and thinking “What is he doing?!” Then you see the tuning and go, “Oh that makes a lot more sense.” Things like wah-wah pedals, I used a lot more on this record. That can help too, that can help inspire you to play differently on solos.

It is difficult to continue to write and be inspired. Sometimes it just helps to plug into a different amp, get a different sound, and turn it up loud. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of how awesome the guitar sounds. Steel Panther is guitar driven music, and it can be inspiring to hear that loud guitar. You know, how it feels to plug into a loud amp and just rock hard.

The video for “Wasted too Much Time” is absolutely incredible, nails the song perfectly. Who came up with the idea, and who decided which member of the band would play what part?

Our drummer, Stix Zadinia. He had an idea about having our singer age throughout the video. That song is about, obviously, spending way too much time with one girl who treats you like shit. And he had this idea of Michael [Starr] throughout the video aging very quickly.

We were talking about the video and I just threw the idea out there, because we were about to go out on tour with Stone Sour, and we all know those guys. I said, what if we get Stone Sour to be the actual band in the video? They can dress as Steel Panther, and everyone thought that was a cool idea. So we called them, and they charged us $200, and they were in it.

Satchel of Steel Panther
Satchel of Steel Panther at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. Photo: Alfred Mannarino/AM Photography/ThePopBreak.com

Then after that we thought, gosh we could be other characters in this video. I ended up being the cop, because I have a very strong jawline, and when I wear a cop outfit, girls tend to melt. I’m a very powerful looking police officer, which is funny because I’m so far away from being one, but the girls just tend to go nuts over me in uniform. Sometimes I go out and I just wear a police uniform in public, you know, impersonate an officer during the day, and you wouldn’t believe how many phone numbers I get, it’s great.

I need you to help me settle a bet with a friend of mine. Are the girls hotter at European shows, or American shows?

When you’re in Steel Panther, we just get so many girls, and they are all always ready to get naked at the drop of a hat. But I will say this. There are certain cities that are ridiculous. Warsaw, Poland is just nuts, like there is just something about the Polish girls. They are just so beautiful and they were all abandoned by their fathers, so they are just looking for sugar daddies, and it’s just amazing. Gothenburg, Sweden is amazing, anywhere in Brazil is amazing, and Des Moines.


Oh yes, something about Des Moines is just amazing. One girl in Des Moines. She came to the show, she didn’t have any clothes on, like right from the get go. She got out of the car, and its maybe ten degrees below zero. She waited in line, completely naked the whole time! She just didn’t care, freezing her ass off outside. Then there was a girl, she had three breasts, just like in that Total Recall movie. Definitely not the last time we play Des Moines.

One last question for you, do you have any advice for younger players in general, or anyone looking to help bring back heavy metal into the spotlight?

Well I’ll say this, practice and play as much as you can without ruining it for yourself. Play because you like to play, play ten hours a day if you want, or play one hour if that’s all you can do. Play every day, that helps you get better quickly. You don’t have to tell everyone that, but it helps to play every day. Get into a band with dudes…like I’m in a band, Steel Panther, get into a band with dudes who do everything you tell them to do. Just make it so that they’ll do whatever you say. My band members, they take orders very well. So make sure you get into a band with members that are afraid of you, mostly. Try to get laid as much as possible. The more you get laid, the more you’ll want to play your guitar.

Catch Steel Panther tonight at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. Click here for tickets.


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