Luke Spiller Struts

If you feel like you missed out on 1970s glam rock, The Struts are here to help.


About The Struts

Before even releasing their first album, U.K.-bred four-piece The Struts opened for The Rolling Stones in front of a crowd of 80,000 in Paris, got hand-picked by Mötley Crüe to serve as the supporting act for their four last-ever performances, and toured the U.S. on a string of sold-out shows that demanded the band move up to bigger venues to accommodate their fast-growing fanbase. Now with their full-length debut Everybody Wants, lead vocalist Luke Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies reveal the supreme mix of massive riffs and powerfully catchy melodies that’s already slain so many adoring audiences around the globe.

“Every time we go into the studio we just want to channel exactly what we’re all about onstage—something big, fun, unapologetic, rock & roll,” says Spiller. “We love a song that makes everybody sing along, and touring quite extensively over the past few years has given us a lot of inspiration to bring that kind of energy to our album.”

The follow-up to Have You Heard—a 2015 EP whose lead single “Could Have Been Me” hit #1 on Spotify’s viral chart, earned more than 2.5 million Vevo/YouTube views, and shot to the top 5 on Modern Rock radio charts—Everybody Wants unleashes anthem after arena-ready anthem. Pairing up with producers like Gregg Alexander (former frontman for New Radicals) and Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Mick Jagger) and recording in such far-flung locales as a refurbished London church and a studio in the Spanish region of Andalucía, The Struts prove the iconic power that’s prompted Yahoo Music to name them “one of the most exciting and electric performers in rock today” and MTV to proclaim the band “well on their way to bringing rock & roll back to the forefront.”

Throughout Everybody Wants, The Struts offer their own undeniable twist on sweetly sleazy glam-rock, delivering huge hooks and making brilliant use of Spiller’s otherworldly vocal range. Even the album’s breakup songs come on full throttle, with “Mary Go Round” backing its dreamy acoustic balladry with heavy drums, blistering guitar work, and fantastically glam-minded lyrics (“I can’t even pour myself a glass of wine/Because every glass is stained with your lipstick shine”). Also evidence of The Struts’ romantic sensibilities, the sweeping, heart-on-sleeve intensity of “A Call Away” offers a stirring testament to love against the odds. “It’s about when I’d just moved to America and had a girlfriend back home, and everyone was asking how I was going to make it work,” explains Slack. “The song’s saying that we’ll make it work no matter what, no matter how many miles apart we are.”

At the core of Everybody Wants are power-chord-driven tracks like the hard-charging album-opener “Roll Up” (a “larger-than-life caricature of the person I am onstage, very glamorous and very cheeky,” according to Spiller) and the gritty-yet-exhilarating “Kiss This” (a breakup song whose “message is really about standing up for yourself—sort of our version of a ‘Young Hearts Run Free’-type song, but in a rock mentality,” Spiller notes). With its hip-shaking rhythms and euphoric harmonies, “Times Are Changin’” recaps the band’s recent glories (“I’ve been to New York City, I met the Rolling Stones”), while “The Ol’ Switcharoo” blends bubblegum melodies and horn-backed grooves into the world’s most irresistibly fun tribute to girlfriend-swapping.

The Struts also show their skill in merging high-drama storytelling and pop-perfect melody on Everybody Wants, with “Black Swan” spinning a darkly charged tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers. “I’d thought that ‘Black Swan’ would make a good title, so Luke and I started writing it together one night in his room,” recalls Slack. “We finished the melodies, and the next morning he’d come up with this whole tragic love story to put into the lyrics.” And on “Where Did She Go,” The Struts close out Everybody Wants with an infectiously stomping epic that first came to life when Spiller was just 15. “My parents had just moved to this horrible seaside town, which wasn’t a great place to be if you’ve got long hair or you’re just an individual in any way,” he says. “One night I was walking home quite drunk and started singing to myself, as you do, and this melody eventually came to me. I remember thinking, ‘What kind of melody could you get a whole football stadium full of people to sing along to?’, and then kept going from that.”

Forming The Struts in Derby, England, in 2012, all four members began making music as teenagers, initially finding inspiration in groups like Oasis and the Libertines and then tracking their idols’ influences to discover the glam bands that would one day shape their own sound. “When we first started, we both just wanted to make fun, happy rock songs with big choruses—the kind of thing that bands like Slade and T. Rex used to do,” says Slack of his collaboration with Spiller. The trademark tongue-in-cheek swagger of classic glam also played a key part in the naming of the band, Spiller points out. “We were in rehearsals and someone saw me strutting around as we were playing, and made the suggestion that we call ourselves The Struts,” he says. “We loved that from day one—it absolutely represents what we’re about.”

Largely on the strength of their dynamic live performance, the Struts fast built up a major following and started selling out shows all across Europe. Along with landing the Stade de France gig with the Rolling Stones, the band took the stage at the 2014 Isle of Wight Festival, with Spiller decked out in a shimmering-blue cape custom-made for him by Zandra Rhodes (the legendary designer who formerly created costumes for Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Brian May). Over the past few years Spiller’s role as a style idol has prevailed, with the New York Times recently spotlighting the singer in a fashion-centric feature and Ray Brown (an Australian designer who’s also dreamed up outfits for AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and Lady Gaga) coming up with costumes for The Struts’ run of dates with Mötley Crüe.

In their lavish stage presence and magnetic appeal, The Struts have more than demonstrated a preternatural command of monumental crowds. But while all that glitz and flash never fail to thrill, the band’s impassioned music and high-powered spirit also fulfill a far greater purpose. “The main mission of the band is to bring back that feeling of fun and rock & roll, especially to all those people who are bored by what’s going on these days,” says Spiller. “We really believe that music, when it’s done right, can help you escape the present moment, and then just send you somewhere else entirely.”

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Transcript

Luke Spiller: I've just always wanted to be the biggest and the best.

And from a young age, the idea of conquering rock and roll has been Luke Spiller's obsession. His band, The Struts, are named for the way its front man fills the stage. The now-four-piece outfit is known for its bombastic live shows, oozing glam rock nostalgia. Spiller is celebrated as a front man who treats performance as an art form unto itself. But long before he studied the likes of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, Luke Spiller learned performance basics from an unlikely source: his dad, an evangelical Christian preacher.

Spiller: At my age, he was touring around the world, preaching. And his thing is he leads a sermon with his music, and he preaches messages through his songs. He's gifted. People really look up to him, and he's a great performer, and he really gets his message across. And, you know, in the house, it wasn't like the radio was banned, or anything like that. They were very much involved with whatever particular church that we were at in that specific moment in time.

One of the few times that the family's Christian beliefs butted heads with rock and roll came about because of a provocative documentary.

Spiller: It was talking about the Columbine incident, and how Marilyn Manson was completely to blame for it. There was a shooting where a guy had shot a bunch of people and dropped his AC/DC hat, and therefore, they completely blamed it on AC/DC. And of course, we went home that day, and mum got the bin bag out, and you know, we went through the CDs and "snap, snap, snap." I did think that, "This isn't right." And at the time, there was a Queen Greatest Hits, and I managed to convince my mom, like, "No, I don't think that's evil." I mean, now when I talk about it, they cringe because, like I said, they grow up with you. And I think, as naive as I was as a child to that kind of thing, so were they. So, we kind of all laugh about it now, and it's kind of like a running joke. But they've always been really supportive to a degree where, as long as what I do is truthful and tasteful, they're always gonna be behind me.

Their support came in handy when, as a teenager, Spiller discovered the outrageous British rock band, The Darkness.

Spiller: It was, like, flamboyant. It was dangerous. It was completely unique, at the time, compared to what everything else was going on in rock. And I suddenly felt like I found something, which I completely connect with, you know. And then I just went down this rabbit hole. And, because none of this had been really shown to me when I was growing up, by my parents—which is really what happens to a lot of young kids—for me, it was fresh. It was like I was living all of this for the first time, and discovering it, and it was my music. None of my friends at school were listening to it, or talking about these kind of artists or bands, and I had found my world. And from there, I've just been on a journey to educate myself and look backwards in order to know where to go next.

But the darker side of the rock and roll lifestyle—the booze and the drugs—was not something Luke Spiller clung to too tightly.

Spiller: My priorities have changed. I want to be able to give the best show possible. That person exists now just on the hour and 30 minutes that we're on stage, and he stays there. And then, when we come off, I then get to be myself and become normal again.

And for that hour and a half, Luke Spiller is totally subsumed by his role.

Spiller: You know, I wanna win people over. It's all about "I'm the best. I'm the best. I'm the best thing you are going to see this day, and I'm gonna prove it to you." And I like that challenge. Even if they all have already come to see us, and they know what to expect, I want them to, sort of, be blown away. And I really feel that, if you're a performer, and you really do give 110%, like all the greats have, the audience appreciates that.

Spiller: Some people think it's uncool to get people to clap and whatnot, but I have been in many show situations as an audience member, and I can feel the tension in the room, because everyone's wanting a good time. You don't go to a show to, sort of, stand there, and sip a drink, and, sort of, tap your foot. You know, you want to lose yourself. It's like when you're at school, and you went to your first disco. I can remember it so clearly. I wanted to dance, but I was too self-conscious and embarrassed to do so. And then, I remember the last half an hour, all the kids suddenly work up the courage, and then they're going mental. And then their parents are saying, "Right, it's time to go home now." You're like, "No, I don't want to stop!" That's what I'm talking about, and that's exactly what happens as an audience member. They want to look around them and see everyone else letting go. And it's my job to make that happen.

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