The Struts

Australia has fallen in love with The Struts as they wowed audiences across the country supporting Greta Van Fleet. The Struts are by no means an overnight revelation and have been building over the last few years with the upward trajectory to continue for some time yet. Their new album YOUNG&DANGEROUS is absolutely brilliant and I had the privilege of having a chat with front man Luke Spiller on his day off in Sydney about the tour, the album and what’s in store for the rest of this year.

Welcome to Australia. How have the shows with Greta Van Fleet been going so far?
Well, we did our first one last night and as I said to the boys, meaning the rest of The Struts, I said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, as we all know, but last night we definitely got planning commission for our empire, so we’re doing good.”

Have you been surprised and maybe a little bit overwhelmed by how much love there is for The Struts here in Australia?
It’s pretty insane honestly. It really is. Considering the fact that we haven’t yet really started to get a lot of radio play and that’s just starting to happen now due to the fact that we’re here. I mean, walking out on stage last night and in many ways, not taking anything away from Greta at all, but it felt like our crowd as much as it did theirs ironically. I mean, they were just so welcoming. It was lovely.

What’s been your first impressions so far here in Australia?
Well, we’ve only been here for three days, but we got off the plane and we headed to the main touristy beach. The name…

What’s it called?

Yes, Bondi Beach. We went down to Bondi Beach, did a bit of surfing, and it was nice, really good. All of the band got a bit sunburnt, feeling a little bit worse for wear, but I’m just really happy to be here. It’s a lovely place, lovely people, and I really hope that we come again soon. Hopefully in 2019.

I was going to ask that, whether you think The Struts would be back much soon and next time visit Adelaide and Perth?
Well, that’s the idea. Like I said, we’re just sort of laying down a foundation as we speak and we will do for the next couple of shows. What’s really exciting is we’re actually doing a headline show of our very own, which is at the Oxford Art Factory, which I’ve heard is a lovely venue. It’s going to be great.

The Struts have toured with some huge names, Guns N’ Roses, The Who, Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, whose been your favourite? Do you still learn a lot from these bands who have been so influential?
Well, I would say The Stones for me was a big personal highlight. Three shows with them was absolutely insane. Getting to meet them and shake hands with my idols was absolutely fantastic, but I guess more recently being on the road with Foo Fighters for pretty much a whole year on and off was an unforgettable experience. Getting up and singing Under Pressure with the band, with Taylor Hawkins singing the Bowie part and I was playing Freddie Mercury while Dave Grohl was drumming. That’s something that was super unique and I’ll always look back on that very fondly.

When a lot of people see The Struts, taking in the latest album do you find that most would think that you’re like an overnight sensation, when in fact you’ve been building for a number of years? Is the hard work starting to payoff now and like you said about building Rome, it’s really starting to take shape now.

It really is. It makes me laugh. We’ve been pretty much a ten year overnight success. I definitely would say our lives really began to change four years ago upon arriving in the United States and receiving so much love and attention. From that, we’ve gone on to having amazing opportunities all over the world, including Japan, the rest of Europe. We’re about to go back to England and do the biggest tour we’ve ever done, which is super exciting. Of course, being here in Australia as well, it feels like in many ways, yes for me and Adam, the band has been going for ten years this year, but it’s almost like we really started four years ago if that makes any sense.

So now you’ve served your apprenticeship it’s time now for The Struts to really keep expanding the empire.
Yeah, exactly. Apprenticeship is a good way to look at it. We’ve definitely paid our dues. I can tell you that. I mean, probably the first five years of our career, it started off us driving around in tiny little cars, just the four of us. Then, we eventually got a full transit white van, which we toured all over the UK, went to France and a little bit of Europe. For every amazing show that we have done in our career we’ve had about ten absolutely hideous monstrous stadiums of shows in terms of attendance. We can definitely pat ourselves on the back now and learn to really appreciate what we have.

Absolutely. I absolutely love the new album and haven’t stopped playing it. Have you been really happy with how fans and new fans and music lovers in general have really embraced and got behind the album?
You know what? I really am. It was a very big challenge. There was a lot of pressure recording a lot of the media in and out of very short tours. Of course, it being a follow up, there’s a lot of pressure. Everyone in America especially was really waiting to hear our next moves. To see and read that the album has really been loved and taken on by a lot of people is brilliant. Now it’s just a case of let’s start getting those sales numbers up, but everything’s changed so much. The way that music is bought, the way the music is listened to, so you can’t dwell on those things too much. The most important thing is when people do buy it or when they do stream it or download it illegally or whatever, that the music is quality because if it’s good, then they’re going to come and see us live at a show, which to be honest is our bread and butter. That’s what The Struts is all about.

In terms of the songs, did you guys given that you said that the States were waiting for your next move, did you find that you agonised a lot more and tortured yourself almost thinking about the songs, what’s going to work and what’s not going to work and what’s in and what’s not in?
Yes, to an extent. We’re definitely a band that’s quite self-aware. Sometimes the media is a little bit calculated, if that makes any sense? But for the most part it was a juggling act between being The Struts and also being conscious that we wanted to step our game up. In hindsight, it’s led us to create an even more unique and stronger album and dare say, a little bit matured from the debut. We’re all super happy with the result.

How do you think The Struts sound has evolved sonically compared to your debut?
It really has. It really did evolve. Not only did the band become better players after touring relentlessly for two or three years, but honestly I think we’re just getting started. It’s like we have a lot of big ideas and in terms of the way album number three is going to be recorded, I think we have more of a clear idea and vision that we probably had since we started of how we’re going to do it. There was a lot of experimentation going on in the early stages. I don’t know if you can hear that, but every track is extremely unique and nothing is quite the same from one song to the next, which I think is one of our biggest strengths. It’s also a good way of understanding what you can do and what you can get away with, so we’re constantly pushing. Come album number three, who knows what we’re going to do there.

Are you going to do something similar where you recorded most of the album on tour? Would you attempt to do something like that again or do you think you need to take a break and work through it when you’re not touring?
I think we’d definitely like to take the latter. It’s just the second album had to be recorded like that for reasons that were really beyond our control. We had really just started to gain traction in the States and across the rest of the world so it would have been foolish for us not to capitalise on that, but yeah you’re right. It’s definitely something that we don’t want to repeat again and again. The opportunity to go away for two to three months and immerse ourselves in a body of work would be an absolute dream come true. Then again, thinking about it more constructively, that is the pressure and the inconvenience on which the second album was made, is that what makes it so strong? I hope it’s not, but I guess we’ll have to find out.

Is it also a bit of a case of strike while the iron’s hot? If you go away for too long, it’s hard to pick up that momentum again?
Yeah, we would definitely never go away for too long. Who knows man, but at the end of the day we like a good challenge. We work very well under pressure and we always bring great results.

Awesome. Teaming up with Kesha as well, how did that partnership come about? Was that a whole bunch of fun working with her?
It was. It was a lot of fun. She’s actually brilliant. She’s a wonderful person, great taste in music, great voice. We met each other at a college show, which was really cool. She was headlining. We started to chat with her and basically kept in touch for the rest of the year, and then when Body Talks was written we thought it would be great to have a duet. We just thought, hey let’s see if she’d be up for it. Of course, we sent it to her people and it got to her and she said yes straight away. She said yes that quickly that by the time it came to me to fly in to the studio and cut some vocals of her, she didn’t even know the song. She just heard the opening riff and was like, “Yes, I’m in.” That was funny.

The Funko Pops is a really, really cool promotion. Is there anything else like that in the works? I’m still trying to work out how I can get some sent to Australia!
I don’t know if you’ve seen the documentary on Netflix about Funko?

No … I’ll have to search that out.
There’s basically a certain collector called Dave Zilla. It turns out he came to one of our shows at the meet and greet and he just started talking to us. It was very funny the beginning to do like, “You know man, I’m going to get you made into Pops. We’re going to do all this kind of stuff.” We were just like yeah, yeah, yeah. At any rate, it turns out he was absolutely legit, so before we know it we were doing a gig in San Francisco and the whole Funko team came and they really enjoyed the show. That was it. Four or five weeks later, we were selling an idea for a commercial that we eventually shot and the cereal was born. The really cool thing about that whole situation was we pushed out a seven inch vinyl for a song called 21st Century Dandy, which didn’t quite make the album, but myself and the band regardless really adore and are really proud of that song. It’s great that we had a unique way to get out another great song.

Interview by Rob Lyon

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