The latest Brit rock sensation have hit the US shores. The Struts
are a culmination of contemporary Brit pop, 70s rock, and all of the awesome excesses that made glam rock the experience that it was. Don't let that description narrow your expectations, though, because the group is sure to surprise you in many ways; their sound can't be pinpointed but will surely be a pummeling presence of rock and roll in its raw, unadulterated form.
A large part of what makes this group so special is their capacity to put on theatrics and carry on with a wild and untamed stage presence that rivals some of the most vibrant and energetic acts one can imagine. Frontman Luke Spiller dominates the stage clad in vibrant and shimmering glamorous outfits, constantly in motion, with a powerful vocal presence that always demands a spot against the backdrop of fuzzy, bluesy guitars and thunderous drum beats. As a live act, Spiller brings forth to the table a culmination of many of the most memorable frontmen in rock and roll in order to transform himself into a musical spectacle.
"I think a lot of [frontmen] change from day to day, and we change as people, but I've gone through all sorts of phases, like heavy phases with Queen, AC/DC, and then some Brit pop bands like Oasis, and I guess in terms of frontmen I look up to...when it comes to my performances as an individual, what I've done consciously or unconsciously, I don't know yet. I've taken what I see is the best out of everybody. For every song, there seems to be a different character, and I'd be lying if I said I never have taken any influences from certain frontmen for certain types of songs.
We're [Luke Spiller & his onstage persona] two completely different people. Onstage, it's someone who's completely insane, brash, and completely over the top. I think I have to go from one thing to the other, or one character to the other, really. It helps me to get into the headspace, there's a big difference."
Essentially, The Struts are one of a few bands that have the constant energy to put on what can be described solely as rock and roll for its own sake. They culminate energy from the coolest of places to set their own standard of the place vintage rock and roll sounds have in contemporary music. They reinvigorate sounds that have been lacking in much of popular music, and do it all in a way that they can't be compared too deeply to any other rock band. Each song is packed with powerful hooks, flamboyant melodies, and a carefree attitude that can pull the listener in and captivate them.
"It's a strange concept to think about really. I've been doing it for so long now that I forget why I started doing that kind of thing in the first place if that makes any sense. Right now, it feels like there's no other way to do it. It's a certain way of performing and in a certain way it's become the norm, you know? We're not revivalists, as much as we're creating music in the way we want, performing in the way we want...simple as that.
I think on the whole, it's consciously intended to be an uplifting experience. There's definitely some humor, but on the whole it's just a lot of fun. We're an ambitious group. I'm a very ambitious performer, and that kind of comes across. The goal is for people to walk away going, 'That was one of the best shows I've ever been to.'"
For a band whose first album was released just two years ago, Spiller and the group have been fueled by ambition to garner something massive behind them. Their music is being anticipated by their fans as a pivotal moment with the potential to define the direction of retro-styles of rock and roll with a contemporary wit that thus far has been one of a kind. The same year that their debut album came out, they opened for the Rolling Stones and have been touring extensively to truly bring the experience around the world.
"[The Rolling Stones show] was good; it was amazing. It was a huge experience. I think we've been lucky. We've performed on a lot of big stages, whether it was some festival stop that we've had throughout Paris and France before that, so I think on some level, we learned a hell of a lot, and yeah, it was challenging. The sound wasn't great, but on the whole, being able to meet them, and just watching them was possibly more enjoyable than playing...just standing next to them, if that makes any sense. I was there as a fan that day."
Out of all the songs Spiller considers the most cathartic to sing, he shared:
"I'd have to say I like 'Where Did She Go,' in particular. I wrote that song when I was 16, and that's travelled with me for the better part of ten years now. Every time I sing it, it's bizarre. It just shows what one song can do for you, and where it can take you, and where it can make you end up."
As a band whose raw energy and focus is the glue that keeps the rock machine together, their upcoming American tour is sure to be as vibrant as any Struts show in the past, if not more.
"I think New York's always great. Los Angeles is also fantastic, and I'm also really looking forward to getting some flowers in my hair and going down to San Francisco for the first time; that should be really good. I think I'm really going to be swept away by San Fran...just because of everything I've seen and heard.
It's very hard to say[which show was my favorite]; after a while they all start to kind of merge into one. But I think on the last stretch of things, we did a fantastic show in the Bowery Ballroom in New York, which we followed up with at a sold out show in Irving Plaza just a mere three days ago which was fantastic. And then Portland as well, was really good. I think that was our highest attended headline show; we had about 3,000 people there, which was great."
Spiller also talked about some of the autobiographical elements of his music.
"There's a few of them [which are considered autobiographical]. Both 'Could Have Been Me' and 'These Times Are Changing' are the closest to being autobiographical in a sense, because they were both talking about different times within our career, like where we were at two years ago, and then 'These Times Are Changing' is interesting because it's about the here and the now. But a lot of tracks tend to delve more into these sort of characters, et cetera."
As a frontman who has to make a transition into a character whose abundant energy never depletes onstage, Spiller and bandmates have been in the process of a full dedication and commitment to their work in order to keep the engine running smoothly as their craft demands.
"It depends really. Everyone's kind of got their own thing going on. If there's nothing going on the next day, we tend to have a couple of drinks and stuff, but it's a physical thing, and I've got to try and take care of myself as much as I possibly can. A lot of times I need to alienate myself from that kind of thing. At the end of the day, it's quite bizarre. I'm 27, and I think I've already lived an amazing and quite fulfilled life, and there have been all sorts of debauchery up to nowadays anyway, so let's just say I'm not missing out on anything."
On keeping his vocal chords intact through a lengthy tour in which he strains his voice to quite the limit, Spiller shared:
"I drink tea a lot. I try and drink tea always before I go on. Sorry, I know you want me to say I inject heroin into my eyeballs and do coke through my asshole, but unfortunately, that's not what happens."
The changing dynamic of rock and roll as a performing act has been such that the emphasis on a powerful frontman or lead singer seems to be lost on many current pioneers within the genre, for better or worse. Spiller seems to be content with his role as bringing back the action and the triumphant and glamorous excess when performing, and doesn't seem to worried about filling the void.
"Honestly, I don't think there [are any strong frontmen currently], but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing. I'm a big celebrator of everyone being individual and being who they are, and I think the great thing about us is that we're not following a trend or anything. I can't really think of anyone, and again, that's not really a bad thing, that's just the way it is. In terms of musical influence, I kind of dwell within my own bubble so to speak."
While keeping it rather concise, Spiller alluded to the fact that the Struts are currently hard at work, and the next of their material to surface will be evolved and incorporating some new influences and sounds. Whatever they may be, the world will be waiting to see where The Struts will venture next.
"There's already a lot of stuff being worked on for album number two, and that will include various sounds, but in all honesty, I don't want to reveal too much. I want it to have some sort of surprising impact. You'll just have to wait unfortunately."