Stix Zadinia Interview;
Steel Panther Playing Starlight Drive-In Sept. 11
August 28, 2020
Steel Panther, the glam metal band from California, will be playing a live concert at The Starlight Drive-In, in Butler, PA on September 11. The band released their fifth studio album, Heavy Metal Rules in the fall of 2019. They will be playing two drive-in shows on their Fast Cars & Loud Guitars Tour.
I recently spoke with Steel Panther drummer Stix Zadinia, to discuss his career and the band’s upcoming appearance at The Starlight Drive-In.
Greg Drugan: Hey Stix, how are you doing today?
Stix Zadinia: I’m good, dude. How are you?
GD: I’m doing pretty good, thanks. How have you been handling the quarantine?
SZ: Man, I tell ya. It’s very weird. I’ve been golfing my ass off because there’s nothing else to do. We’ve been trying to write some music and come up with a bunch of content. Michael, with this pandemic, has said he wants to be more prolific and to be more well known on the backside of it than when we went into it. I don’t want to be known as one of those bands that just sits around.
GD: Right. That was my next question. I know that you guys released Heavy Metal Rules this past fall, so you are working on some new music?
SZ: Oh yeah. I’m out in Vegas right now and Satchel and I are jamming tomorrow. We’re gonna work on some riffs and make some new music. There’s eight or nine songs in the can already. We have to decide if we’re gonna do a full length or an EP. We’ve done two live streams and we’re working on some other things. It’s pretty exciting. We are making the most out of this misery.
GD: That’s great! Now, were you done with your European tour when this thing hit, or did you still have dates to play?
SZ: No, dude. We were done February 16th and we came home. Then we had a couple weeks (off). Then we went to Canada, we had two shows in Vancouver. So we’re in Canada March 12 and had shows on the 13th and 14th. We get a call on the evening of the 12th that says, “ok, go to the airport and get out of Canada now!” That’s when it went full lock down on March 13.
GD: Wow, you got outta there in the nick of time.
SZ: We did. You know, I would have loved to have done those shows. It is what it is. We did the Euro Tour and it was a very successful tour. We’ve done a couple live streams, just to, you know. There’s gonna be some bands that don’t survive this thing. There’s no work. Income is derived from the live shows and merch on the road. We’ve been fortunate and our store on our website does fairly well. I think we’re gonna be able to make it through.
GD: What was it like playing those live streams?
SZ: Those were strange. You finish a song and it was quiet. So we pumped in crowd noise. Doing these drive-in shows, I don’t know if people are going to honk or flash their high beams, clap, I don’t know what they’re going to do. So I might bring some crowd noise with me!
GD: That would be cool, kinda like what baseball is doing with the crowd noise.
SZ: Exactly! It actually makes a difference. Because when people hear it, I think it’s exciting. We did that for our live stream and it made us feel that we were performing in front of people. I think it makes the crowd feel more comfortable as well. People come to a rock show, they don’t go just to see their favorite band. They go because they want to be around like-minded people who are interested in the same stuff. People develop relationships, because you see the same people over and over and I feel that it’s a community. With the crowd noise, they may feel like we are all in this again and have that sense of community.
GD: I 100% agree with you. So, you are going to be playing at The Starlight Drive-In outside of Pittsburgh, have you ever been to a drive-in movie before?
SZ: When I was a kid, I went to a couple of drive-ins. I have vague memories of it. The last drive-in I went to was a swap meet.
GD: This is a pretty cool venue for a show. It’s kinda like an amphitheater with no pavilion seats. Everyone is parked at an angle on the hill, and the stage is right under the big screen. I think it’s the best situation for the time.
SZ: I think that’s awesome. I was talking to our booking agent and was like, "get some more drive in shows!" We’re trying, but we have to move more west because they’re all gonna stop having drive-in shows because of the winter. I’m just grateful that we’re able to get this one in with you guys.
GD: We’re looking forward to having you. Looking back on your career, who inspired you to be a drummer?
SZ: You’re gonna laugh, Michael Bolton. He had a song, I used to air drum to Michael Bolton’s “Fools Game” when he was a rock guy. That was one of the things, I just latched on to that. I listened to Zeppelin. I know it’s a cliche, but you listen to John Bonham and I couldn’t help but be infected by the sexiness of the drums and heaviness of the drums. So for me, Bonham and Stewart Copeland were my two favorites.
I got to actually jam with Stewart Copeland once. I played a few songs with Gene Simmons at his kids high school scholarship foundation event. I played “Deuce” and “Black Diamond.” Stewart Copeland’s kid went there, so Stewart played the drums. We were at sound check and I was wrapping up with Gene, and Stewart got on his drums because he had his own drum set there because he’s Stewart Copeland. He started riffing and he and I just started going back and forth, trading every four bars. I was losing my mind!
GD: That’s great, I love Stewart too. Who was the first artist you saw live and how did that impact you?
SZ: Neil Diamond, Coming To America at The Forum. I can’t remember what age I was, but my parents took me. The big American flag behind him and he’s singing “We’re Coming To America!” I was like, ok, I can get down with this. Neil Diamond was the first concert I went to and it profoundly affected me.
GD: That’s awesome. And he was still doing it up until two years ago, fifty plus years into his career.
SZ: Yep. That guy was a freak song writer, performer, actor. He just had it. He was cool, he still is cool.
GD: Do you remember the first record you bought with your own money?
SZ: I rode up to Music Plus, and I rode home with Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil in my left hand on my BMX bike. I couldn’t wait to get home, unwrap the cellophane and open up the gatefold and look at the pictures on the inside. I was like, “Oh my god, this is my jam!” I had been listening to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and a bunch of stuff in the neighborhood. But my own first record was Motley Crue Shout At The Devil.
GD: That’s a good one! How many bands were you in before you joined Steel Panther?
SZ: Twenty. I was in a bunch of bands you never heard of. I’ve been playing drums since I was in third grade. I was in neighborhood bands, then you get into your teens and early twenties and you see people peel off. They get “real jobs,” and I looked at them like they were crazy. They looked at me and were like, “no, you’re crazy.” For me, it was never an option to not rock. So I kept joining bands and I never stopped. I was either gonna live or die by rock because I didn’t want to do anything else.
GD: Nice, so how did you end up joining Steel Panther?
SZ: Satchel and I used to be in an original band in the early ‘90s. Steel Panther was Metal Shop before, then changed the name to Metal Skool. There was another drummer, they actually had several drummers in the beginning. They needed a guy to come in and play a show at The Viper Room. Satchel asked me and I was like, “yeah I’ll do it.” The chemistry we had was ridiculous, from the very first show. We had a bond and we realized that all four of us were on the same page and we kept going.
GD: Well, you can tell you guys are having fun on stage, that’s for sure.
SZ: Man, I get to make music with my best friends and get paid for it. It’s a great job, if you can call it a job. I feel lucky to get to do what I do and who I get to do it with.
GD: Do you have a favorite song to play live?
SZ: Maybe “Seventeen Girls In A Row” or depending on the venue, “Community Property.” It’s one of those songs, when we do a festival, there’s like 80,000 people swaying their arms and singing. It’s emanating from my drum set, it’s powerful. You get choked up, it’s pretty crazy.
GD: Very good. What can fans expect from this show in Butler? Are we gonna get some girls on stage?
SZ: As long as we're allowed. Look, I want that more than anything Greg. Because it’s a drive-in show, there’s a lot of online content; skits that we shot and film that we created. I wouldn’t be surprised if throw up a couple of pieces on the screen during the show and really make the show even more dynamic.
GD: Stix, sounds like it’s gonna be a good time. I’m looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks and I appreciate you giving me some time today.
SZ: I appreciate you talking with me and I can’t wait to see you. Hopefully, people will come out and escape the monotony of the quarantine and come rock with us!
GD: Absolutely, we’re gonna rock out with you guys!
SZ: Awesome, dude. We’ll see you in two weeks!
If you are looking for a good time and want to rock out 80’s style, come check out the boys in Steel Panther. They will be playing at the Starlight Drive-In on September 11. Tickets start at $130 per car up to four people and can be purchased by clicking here.