Luke Spiller Struts

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

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 frontman fills the stage. The now four-piece outfit is known for its bombastic live shows, oozing glam rock nostalgia. Spiller is celebrated as a frontman 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 want to 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. 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 they're 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.