Catching up with The Struts, the breakout band that’s bringing back glam

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Ivan McClellan

   “The more substance you give, the more story you give, the better the character comes out, the easier it is to lose yourself in the song.”

British breakout band and classic rock reincarnate, The Struts, are a refreshing combination of charisma and immense talent, with dynamic style to top it off. The foursome is made up of Luke Spiller, lead singer; Adam Slack, guitarist; Jed Elliot, bassist; and Gethin Davies, drummer. Since forming in 2012, the band has toured around the U.K. and Europe, but the group just made it to North America for the first time earlier this year after signing with Interscope Records. With their single, Could Have Been Me, climbing the alternative rock charts and a growing number of sold out shows on their schedule, The Struts have gained substantial momentum, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Described by front-man, Luke Spiller, as “a mix between theatrics with glam and personal experiences,” the band cites many classic and glam rock influences.

“I’ve just always liked it. I just think it’s more inspiring, more interesting. It gives people something else to dig into. Because music is meant to be a form of escape. The more substance you give, the more story you give, the better the character comes out, the easier it is to lose yourself in the song,” Spiller posits on the topic of the band’s theatrical performance. 

Digital Trends: What are some of your early music influences? The first music you remember loving.

Gethin Davies (drummer): I used to live in a pub, and the first song I remember hearing when I was going to sleep, someone would always put on Heard It Through The Grape Vine on the jukebox downstairs. Also [Sir] Duke by Stevie Wonder. They’re my two.

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Ivan McClellan
Ivan McClellan

Adam Slack (guitarist): Mine would be when I was in the car with my Dad and it was Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. Imagine by John Lennon. Then Dream Lover by Bobby Daniel. Those are the three that I remember from when I was small.

Jed Elliot (bassist): Mine was, my Dad would listen to a lot of Van Morrison, and then another Irish band called The Corrs. I love the Corrs. My parents had it; it was a CD they had. That was my first introduction to pop music. The melodies and the harmonies on that were pretty special. I still love them to be honest.

Luke Spiller (lead singer): I remember, one of the earliest ones, my parents took me to America years ago when I was really, really small. We were in Orlando. I remember seeing this weird, fucking children’s TV program. They sing “this is the song that never ends … as it goes on and on my friends.” It was this lamb. Lamb Chop. I used to really love it. It played out on the credits and goes on for two or three minutes. I remember being in a nappy. But then again I wet the bed until I was about 12 so … so it could have been all the way through then. But I remember rustling around in a nappy.

Commanding the stage

Upon listening to their music and seeing their live show, comparisons to legendary frontmen like Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury come to mind, and for good reason. Lead singer, Luke Spiller commands the audience with a magnetic stage presence that has not been seen for some time. Add in driving bass guitar, energetic drums, and an irresistible guitar hook, and you have all of the ingredients for a catchy, glam-rock inspired anthem.

You get a lot comparisons with famous frontmen. Have you ever gotten a comparison that you didn’t like?

“That’s just the only way I know how to do it. It’s the only way I think this band can do it. We have to dress for the occasion.”

Spiller: Not really. The comparison thing is just … I think there is some truth in it with some certain people. I think the only reason people are doing it is because there are no frontmen in bands at the moment. Or if they are, they are standing hitting a floor tom with the drum stick next to the microphone. The sense of the traditional frontman who works the crowd and stuff like that [is gone]. Of course, I’m going to be pigeonholed because there is no one else doing it. And that’s why I am compared to every single of these frontmen because it’s not like I have four other people to choose from who are our contemporaries.

Do the rest of you get compared to anyone, or is it just frontman comparisons?

Davies: I get nothing. I hate it. I want to get compared. I want to read something like that.

Elliot: I’ve been told I look like the Kings of Leon bassist, which is a nice complement. He’s a handsome man. That was when he had his long hair though.

Slack: I get compared to a lot of women really, because of my long hair.

Davies: I got Heath Ledger once.

Spiller: Ah, that’s not bad!

Davies: I went with it. I might have to do the scene when he sings in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Elliot: That’s so dreamy.

Dressing the part

With a style unlike many of their contemporaries, The Struts believe in dressing for the occasion. Frontman, Luke Spiller, joined forces with Zandra Rhodes who worked with Freddie Mercury in the seventies.

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Ivan McClellan
Ivan McClellan

“That was a great collaboration. At the time, we had a lot of big shows coming up, and I needed outfits that were going to be bombastic; [ones that] reflect the sense of occasion that I was going to be using them for,” Spiller elaborated.

Rhodes’ clothing for Spiller was later featured on the BBC documentary Oh You Pretty Things: The Story of Music and Fashion further illustrating the deep-rooted connection between the two art forms.

I’ve seen a lot of parallels drawn between fashion and music, your band specifically. Why do you think they go together?

Spiller: It’s an extension of what you do, and people love it. I find dressing up every night, putting on the makeup, doing your hair, it helps you to get excited for what is quite a monotonous lifestyle; waking up and traveling. The best part is the always the show. It helps you to get excited every night when you really dress for the occasion. I could never imagine walking on stage in my trainers and loose jeans. It just wouldn’t feel right. I think it would leave the audience dissatisfied. When you go watch a performance at the theatre, they all have dress rehearsals, and then everyone gets into a character. That’s just the only way I know how to do it. It’s the only way I think this band can do it. We have to dress for the occasion. We’ve even had dress rehearsals. Just so if you have chosen an outfit for a special performance, rehearse in it once or twice. You don’t want to realize the trousers you thought were going to be great were two sizes too small are probably going to split and your bollocks are going to fall out.

The Struts have plenty of fire left in them, and they won’t cool down any time soon. The band wrapped up 2015 by playing a series of four shows opening for Motley Crue, and they’re taking that energy right into 2016. With fans, press, and critics alike raving over the band’s simultaneously inspiriting and golden-age-evoking take on rock and roll, The Struts are one to keep an eye on as they continue to tour extensively around Europe and North America, counting down the days until their much-anticipated album, Everybody Wants, is released on March 4 of this year. 

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