The final show of 2016 for The Struts ended with a massive explosion of red, white and blue streamers in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. The glam-rock lead vocalist Luke Spiller was donning a glittery top hat to match his sparkly jacket. It seemed fitting as the foursome has been compared to the Rolling Stones, Queen and Spiller himself to the iconic Freddy Mercury.
The Struts’ first album Everybody Wants was released nearly five years ago and the group toured around the United Kingdom and Europe before re-releasing the album in the United States in early 2016. Their single “Could Have Been Me” started climbing the alternative rock charts and making a stellar impression at sold out shows.
2016 is coming to a close and the breakout band is back home in the United Kingdom for the first time since August, 2015. We caught up with Spiller to discuss the band’s sound and style.
How was your 2016 North American tour?
We toured for a long time. By the end of the tour we were actually going to venues for a second, maybe third time. I started to recognize some of our hardcore fans, which was quite flattering. We just got back home about two days ago though and it’s a bit weird. We’re coming back from a fairytale of a year. I’m trying to go to bed at the same time that I would be on stage normally.
What has been the highlight of 2016 for you?
Well firstly, getting our album out there, for sure. We toured with Guns N’ Roses, which was a massive honor and a huge highlight. Touring the States was quite cool. We played 11 shows in ten days at one point. It was intense but when there are 1,500 people filling venues every single night, you suddenly find a burst of energy to get out there and do it.
Do you ever get nervous before performing?
I never really get nervous but now I do keep in mind the amount of cameras at shows. At Lollapalooza for example, there were 20,000 people in the crowd and a third of them were recording the performance. I was just like, ‘Oh god, I hope I don’t fall on my face and wind up on the Internet.’
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Well, I have to warm up the body quite a lot. I get ready to go full on. I do a lot of jumping up and down and if I don’t warm up, I’ll be completely out of breath. Other than that it’s just about listening to good music, some AC/DC, to get pumped up.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
Obviously we are always naturally evolving. As we grow as people and musicians and fans of music, most of all. I guess to start with though, I had all of these ’60s and ’70s influences that stuck with me like Queen, the Rolling Stones, those classic acts. I guess we’re like that, the Rolling Stones meets Queen meets this dangerous, youthful sound of the future. We’re a melting pot of sounds.
Who are some of your biggest influencers of today?
Normally that would be quite a hard question. I enjoy quirky bands. There’s a band called the Vaccines who we were listening to a lot of when we first got together, their first album from start to finish was incredible. I’m really enjoying the 1975’s new album as well. It’s everything I like; it’s daring, ambitious, quirky and a little bit off the rail.
How do you think your style has affected the band’s reputation?
Well, it goes hand-in-hand with the music. In every group I’ve been in, I’ve kept that in mind. I really do believe that music should be top priority and it has to be the best we can do. But, for me personally, the outfits and the makeup are an extension of the music. Especially when it comes to the live performance aspect. I’ve never been one to roll out of the bus and go on stage in what I’m wearing. I like to get into character and sort of be someone else for an hour and ten minutes.
If you weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing?
I actually enjoy writing music a lot- sometimes more than performing. Being in the studio and creating is where I really get excited. I would probably be writing for someone. But I also love fashion. Maybe I’d just be a grumpy old playwright living in London, smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine all day.
What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?
I love ABBA. I love the songwriting, the production and the voices as well. They blend perfectly together which is quite a rare thing to happen vocally. I enjoy all types of music though. When I was younger I would listen to a lot of everything from rap and hip-hop to Michael Jackson and Motown and James Brown. In a short answer, I can appreciate great songs. I’m not really bound by genre or groups.
What are your plans for the New Year?
We’ll be back in the States in January and I’ll be working on some fashion collaborations with a couple of designers. Then we’re back in the studio for a few months to write and record our second album. We’ll probably have the whole album done by March. The first album is really five years old so we’ve got a ton of ideas.