Be Rudy Sarzo
Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: getting anything resembling a sensible answer from Steel Panther’s Satchel and Lexxi is pretty darn difficult.
The hair metal parodists aren’t in the business of giving dull interviews, and that was most certainly the case when we sat down with them and asked the pair to share the secrets of a successful guitarist-bassist partnership. After all, given that the Panther now fill arenas with their own UK headline shows, we’d say Satchel and Lexxi are certainly doing something right.
We start off by asking the pair to list some of their favourite guitar-bass partnerships. What follows below spewed out of their mouths in a near non-stop stream of consciousness that veered violently from the sublime to the ridiculous…
Lexxi: “I’ll say Rudy Sarzo and Steve Vai as my favourite bass-guitar partnership.”
Satchel: “Sarzo and Vai, that’s your number one?”
Lexxi: “I don’t know if it’s number one, but I would say Rhoads and Rudy Sarzo. That’s pretty good. Here’s my answer, anybody who Rudy Sarzo played with. That’s my top five. Okay, so Vivian Campbell and Rudy Sarzo. Adrian Vandenburg and Rudy Sarzo. Rudy Sarzo played on our record called Wrong Side Of The Tracks, so my number one is Rudy Sarzo and Satchel.
“Wow, I did that way better than I thought I would. Rudy Sarzo looks pretty cool, he moves bitchin’ on stage and he played with the best guitarists in the world. He holds it down; he holds the fort down.”
Work on your vocal chops
Satchel: “Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen, they’re right at the top for me.
“Eddie Van Halen is badass and Michael Anthony can sing really high. That’s the main thing. They jump around a lot, or they used to. They can’t jump so high any more.”
Grow some facial hair
Satchel: “I’m going to go with Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover as well. You can’t go wrong with John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, I’m going way back. How about Paul McCartney and George Harrison. You can’t go wrong with Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan.”
Lexxi: “You’re going classic-rock moustache people.”
Satchel: “You can’t go wrong with moustache people. I mean come on, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi, the godfathers of heavy metal. There would be no heavy metal without Black Sabbath.
“We stayed in Birmingham last night - that’s where they’re from. Black Sabbath grew up there, they walked the streets, Geezer Butler talked those streets. Geezer is a great name for an old man. Geezer is a geezer and he still plays great.”
Bass players, hold it down
Satchel: “Any band that has one guitar player, the bass player has to hold it down. Like Lexxi Foxx and Satchel. He holds it down.”
Lexxi: “He tells me what to do and I do the best that I can. I could lose my job at any second because of all of the great bass players here today.”
Satchel: “You do a great job. But I’ve got to keep him under my thumb. I have to keep control over him. We can’t have him getting a big head. I will often fire him and then he goes and cries in his dressing room for a little while and his make-up gets all runny and then I’ll tell him he’s hired again.”
Lexxi: “Then I have to do my make-up again 10 minutes before we go on stage. I always tell him that it’s going to backfire on him one of these days. I can’t afford waterproof make-up.
“I can’t see so good now because we’re getting so old. One of the shows we were playing was a big show so I thought I’d put some make-up on to brighten up my eyes and I accidentally put superglue in my eyes and glued them shut. I think it was when we were playing Wembley. I had one eye glued shut the whole day but luckily it was my left side, so I just put my hair over it and no-one noticed.”
Hire more than one bass player
Satchel: “Ritchie Blackmore is a badass as well. I haven’t seen this new version of Rainbow - I think that they have Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Roger Glover on bass, Rudy Sarzo on back-up bass and Geezer Butler on bass. They have three bassists and then Glenn Hughes on back-up bass and he’s singing as well. It’s crazy. Great band, though. He can fire two bass players a day and still have a band.”
Take direction... and don't get eaten by a bear
Satchel: “A bass player needs to take direction well. When they start going off on their own thing, that’s when we start having problems.
“They just need to hold down the damn root. Of course, if you’re asking Billy Sheehan to just hold down the root then he could be like, ‘Fuck you man, I can do whatever I want.’ That guy is a virtuoso, he can just hold down the root but he can play whatever he wants.
“But in Steel Panther, Lexxi isn’t going to go all over the neck; he doesn’t know where to go. For Lexxi, it’s like living in an old house on the edge of the forest, and if he goes too far from home he will probably get eaten by a bear.
“If I tell him the song is in A, then he just needs to ride the A string. He doesn’t want to move around the neck, because he might get eaten. He doesn’t want to wander off, because that fretboard is a strange, confusing place.”
Lexxi: “I would lay down breadcrumbs so I could find my way back to the house.”
Satchel: “But that wouldn’t work on the guitar because the neck is perpendicular to the ground and they would fall off the frets; you’d never find your way back and you would die. You would never find your way back to A. And what if the key changes back while you’re walking around the forest - how would you find your way back?”
Lexxi: “I would ask you where to put my fingers.”
Satchel: “Our relationship is driven by fear. That’s what should drive the guitar-bass player relationship: it’s the fear of being fired, fear of being eaten by a bear and fear of hitting a really bad note because that will get you fired. How do you think Michael Anthony got fired? He hit a bad note and then Eddie had his son right there ready to go.”
Steel Panther tour the UK and Ireland in January 2018:
Jan 18: Dublin Academy, Ireland
Jan 19: Belfast Limelight, UK
Jan 20: Glasgow O2 Academy, UK
Jan 24: Manchester Apollo, UK
Jan 26: London Hammersmith Apollo, UK