Does Metal Take It­self Too Se­ri­ously?

Michael Starr of Steel Pan­ther has a laugh with Avatar’s Jo­hannes Eck­er­ström

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Dillinger, Suicide Silence & Code Orange -

Is metal as po-faced as peo­ple say it is? Michael Starr spends his days singing about drugs, sex and StDs, while Jo­hannes Eck­er­ström con­ducts his own heavy metal cir­cus. We chat to the Steel Pan­ther and Avatar front­men about the art of keep­ing the fun in heavy music – and why you should never call ei­ther group a gim­mick band.

Is the age of the rock­star dead?

MICHAEL: “Well, you look at Avatar and Steel Pan­ther and you have some rock­stars in those bands! that’s the way I like to per­ceive it. I think peo­ple en­joy hav­ing some­one be in their face, mak­ing them en­gage in the show, and that’s what we do.”

JO­HANNES: “I’ve never un­der­stood what a rock­star is, ac­tu­ally, but look­ing at Michael now, oK, I see a rock­star! But I just feel like a typ­i­cal, nor­mal Swede. this is what we do. We paint our faces and light lots of fires, be­cause it’s cold where we come from.”

even by scan­dI­navIan stan­dards you have a very unIque take on corpsep­a­Int and dress­Ing up…

JO­HANNES: “Yeah, we’re hav­ing fun! that’s the big dif­fer­ence.”

MICHAEL: “I think ev­ery­one’s miss­ing fun! Ev­ery­body has dif­fer­ent moods, and the mood isn’t an­gry all the time. there has to be some sort of out­let for peo­ple to just en­joy them­selves, en­gage, have a laugh, have a beer with their bud­dies, maybe get laid af­ter the show!”

JO­HANNES: “In our case, it’s just bril­liant that we get away with way more de­ranged and dark and twisted things. that was never the in­ten­tion, but again, we’re Swedish, ha ha! Some of our stuff that they play on the radio, I don’t think they know what it re­ally means. [looks at Michael] Same with you guys and The Shocker! Al­though I guess you do sing what that is...”

MICHAEL: “they don’t put us on the radio! I lis­ten to satel­lite radio all the time and you never hear our band on there. Ever. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted – to be on the fuck­ing radio. to turn it on, hear my song and have my mom hear it.”

JO­HANNES: “You should have started rap­ping.”

please don’t start rap­pIng. do you thInk metal takes It­self too se­rI­ously? do we all need to lIghten up?

JO­HANNES: “Aren’t we liv­ing proof that we’re do­ing that? Wasn’t the Break­ing The Law video fun, where they end up play­ing card­board Fly­ing V gui­tars?”

who were the larger-than-lIfe char­ac­ters that you fIrst saw as chIl­dren that made you want to be a per­former?

JO­HANNES: “hulk hogan! that was the first time in my case where I wanted to have an au­di­ence.” MICHAEL: “Van halen were the hook for me. I used to love look­ing at their record cov­ers, and my only out­let for those sources back in those days were mag­a­zines like




Metal Ham­mer. I looked at bands like that in those pages, and I wanted to be in those mag­a­zines. Also, David lee roth is one of my favourite singers. on the record, live, ev­ery­thing. And that band had fun. David would crack some jokes, fuck bitches and get ham­mered.”

JO­HANNES: “While the music de­liv­ered. And you can’t have one with­out the other!”

That’s An­other Point – Both Your Bands Could Be La­belled ‘gim­mick Bands’, But You Go To Great Lengths To Bring The Music And The Wider Vision Up To Scratch

JO­HANNES: “At the end of the day, it has to be about the music, oth­er­wise it doesn’t work. You know, Michael, the first time I read about you in this magazine, I didn’t ex­pect that you’d be able to play, but you can – and re­ally, re­ally well! there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing ‘fun’ or ‘funny’ and be­ing a fuck­ing joke.”

MICHAEL: “I think peo­ple judge books by their cov­ers. It’s a nat­u­ral in­stinct, so peo­ple see us and go, ‘Pfft, they suck.’ And that’s oK, be­cause we get peo­ple to come to our shows through word of mouth. Peo­ple come and see us and they ei­ther go, ‘oh, I re­ally like that band, ev­ery­one should go see them’ or ‘Urgh, that band fuck­ing sucks.’ What­ever way it turns.”

JO­HANNES: “But also, you kinda want the haters a lit­tle bit. I re­mem­ber, on one of our very first press re­leases, some­one put it on Blab­ber­mouth, and there were no com­ments. Noth­ing! But now, with a lit­tle bit more suc­cess, we fi­nally have some haters, so I’m like, ‘Yes, we’ve made it!”

MICHAEL: “If you have haters, you know you have made it. ’cause, you know, when you were younger, if a girl hated you, it meant she wanted to fuck you!”

Is There Any­where You’d Draw The Line? What’s Too Over The Top For Steel Pan­ther And Avatar?

MICHAEL: “I’m gonna take a guess that there’s no limit for Avatar.”

JO­HANNES: “Well, we men­tioned that word ‘gim­mick’. Some­times the press has their own gim­mick and they want you to be a part of that. When it turns to ‘dance, mon­key, dance’, that’s when it’s too far for me. oth­er­wise it can mis­rep­re­sent your band.” WHAT ABOUT YOU, MICHAEL? ANY LIM­ITS ON STEEL PAN­THER?

MICHAEL: “I dunno, not re­ally. I just stay away from po­lit­i­cal stuff. It’s so segregated. I think music is in­clu­sive to ev­ery­body, and I think what­ever your views, race, gen­der, what­ever it is, ev­ery­one can love music. Ev­ery­body has their own tastes, and I wouldn’t wanna en­dorse any­thing po­lit­i­cal.” SO YOU WOULDN’T HAVE PLAYED DON­ALD TRUMP’S IN­AU­GU­RA­TION CER­E­MONY, THEN?

MICHAEL: “oh God no, we wouldn’t do any­thing like that.”


JO­HANNES: “So many peo­ple try to fig­ure out what is ex­pected of them.”

MICHAEL: “Ex­actly. It was the same thing in the 80s when Guns N’ roses came out. there were so many Guns N’ roses wannabe bands.”

JO­HANNES: “And it never works for them, they never end up head­lin­ing any good places. It has to be some­thing real in there.”

MICHAEL: “And that’s what it comes down to; there has to be some le­git­i­macy in there. Peo­ple can see right through you if you don’t be­lieve in what you’re do­ing. there’s a lot of great tal­ent around – great singers, great play­ers, great song­writ­ers, and peo­ple can find them all now. It’s not shoved down your throat.” STEEL PAN­THER’S LOWER THE BAR IS OUT NOW VIA KOBALT. AVATAR’S FEATHERS & FLESH IS OUT NOW




Michael and Jo­hannes: th­ese guys bring the party

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