Sunday, May 11, 2014

Did Steel Panther Drop a Rusty Hairball?

I've been very vocal about giving the great glam metal band, Steel Panther lots of credit for this 80's metal resurgence. They started out playing small clubs as a gimmick, and at first, people came out to laugh at them. Slowly, more and more people started to realize that while Steel Panther was a doing a parody of the 80's decadence, they were also very talented musicians who wrote good songs. Now, Steel Panther is playing arenas, and more than likely living the life they portray on their videos of sex, drugs, and rock and roll...although, maybe not because I just found a picture of them without makeup and wigs while looking for their album cover. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

So, as the title suggests, I am wondering if Steel Panther may have gotten a little bit too cocky for their own good. Their current album, All You Can Eat is a depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper with the singer in the seat that is Jesus's in the painting. The other band members are seated at the table, along with scantily clad groupies ON the table.

Now, I am not going to preach here, although I do find this slightly offensive, and it takes a lot to offend me. And, I am not going to lead a movement to try to get the cover banned. I do not believe in censorship, even when there is something I don't like. I'm not even going to get into whether or not this cover was right or wrong. I am merely asking a the following question: Was this album cover a good idea from a marketing stand point?

In an original song from a band I was in back in the day, there was a bridge that went like this: The baby boomers are now old and gray, Generation X is well on its way. We look to the future, and let out a sigh, the next loser up is Generation WHY! Sure, the song is dated. It was written back in 1998. Generation X is mostly old and gray now, which is exactly my point. Most of Steel Panther's fans are 35 years old, and up. There is a large percentage of their fans who are 34 and younger, but most of their fans would have been rocking out at Steel Panther shows back in the 80's if they had been around then. I know I would have.

None of my album covers mocked God like that!
Now, I'm not talking about ALL of Steel Panther's fans, but I'm sure that a large percentage of them might have been a little ticked off about that album cover. Lots of them have families, and some sort of touch with a church, or belief in God, and are teaching their kids about it too. (Yes, they are also teaching their kids about the great and wonderful music that is heavy metal.) People tend to turn to God when they get older. Its a fact of life. So, right now, Steel Panther's music has never been more popular, and this was by far their most anticipated album to date. So, it doesn't make much sense to me to release an album cover that is so polarizing. I understand wanting shock value. There's nothing wrong with that, but even in the most decadent periods of the 80's you didn't have bands doing things like that unless they were Slayer, Venom, or a band like that. A glam band certainly wouldn't have released that album cover.

One of the more controversial glam bands of the 80's was W.A.S.P. With all the things they did that pissed off Al Gore's wife and the rest of the book burners in the PMRC, they would not have released an album cover that was THAT controversial. Ozzy and Black Sabbath didn't even release album covers that mocked God. (although they did release some that were borderline)

Was the cover as bad of a marketing idea as this?
Will Steel Panther's album crash and burn?
We shall see!
So, back to my question. Was this a good marketing decision? We'll see how the album sales are. Ultimately, its the consumers who will decide the answer to this question. And who knows? I may be completely wrong here. Personally, I don't think it was a good idea to release an album cover that would piss off even one of the fans you already have. Back in the 80's, the shock factor was for parents, pastors, and the anal retentive. The 80's bands certainly came out with lots of different ways to scare the uptight, but I can't think of one that went and did something like this.

Finally, my main point is this: Its one thing to piss off the uptight who isn't going to buy your album anyway. Its another to piss off the people who like you. I like Steel Panther a lot. In fact, Death To All But Metal is one of my favorite songs, and one of the greatest metal anthems of all time. But, as much as I like Steel Panther, I will not be buying All You Can Eat, and I will not be seeing them in concert on this tour.

We will see how many people agree with me. In the meantime, here is Death To All But Metal! CRANK IT UP!!!

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