Culture

The Struts are Leading a Glam Rock Resurgence

Glam rock—that mix of theatrics, sexuality and bombast made popularized by acts like Queen—was buried by hair metal1 back in the ’80s2. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bands out there trying to resurrect it. Remember The Darkness?3 Now, for the first time in a while4, there actually might be a band that captures the spirit of the genre, without getting smothered by the camp.

Let us introduce you to the British dudes who may just be the next Rolling Stones, only more glam. That’s probably a bit of a stretch but if things go as well for their second album, Young & Dangerous, as it did for their debut, it might not be so farfetched. They did open for the Stones in Paris back in 2014 and they recently came off a tour with the Foo Fighters. Now headlining their own Body Talks tour, we got to chat with lead vocalist, Luke Spiller about the new album, the sacrifices of tour life, achieving longevity in the industry and the glam of it all. “I always wanted to create some sort of visual spectacle when people come and see the shows,” says Spiller. There’s something to be said about a guy who can masterfully pull off sequins and leather fringe.

 

Before this headlining tour you guys were opening for Foo Fighters. You were on tour with them, right? How did that relationship come about and how was the experience?

We were doing a show in Napa and Taylor’s cover band, Chevy Meta, was also in town. Adam and I were asked if we wanted to do a couple of tracks with him and the group. So that was one of our initial meetings with them. Shortly after that in Washington D.C., at the 9:30 Club, they came to see us play. Funny enough, it was actually one of his friends that he was on vacation with that heard about us and. We ended up meeting him and having a great chat. He just loved what he saw. Soon after that, probably about six months later we were told we’d been offered the tour. Which was massive news. It gets towards the end of that tour and they offer us another one. It was great. Best way to spend the majority of the year.

What’s the toughest part about being in a band on tour? 

It’s a hard one to explain. The good definitely outweighs the bad. There’s no question about that. You get to see a lot of great places—it’s like the worlds greatest camping trip. The annoying things are the small things. Like being in such close proximity to a small group of people for a long time. That creates tension. It doesn’t matter how good of friends or close anyone is, even with your own family. It’s like if I go back now for two weeks, my parents get sick of me and vice versa. That’s just the way it is. But the coolest thing about it is, most of the time you’re walking into a venue with like 1000 people, ready to hear your music and they’re ready for you to be on your top form and that puts you in a completely different headspace.

Do you feel like you guys are more adjusted to the music industry at this point?

We definitely know how it rolls. It’s good for us because we can sort of approach a tour and be mentally prepared for it. Like, okay, we’ve kind of got a feeling of what this is going to entail and how it’s going to make us feel. You can walk into a tour and an album process better knowing what it’s going to be like. We’ve done an awful lot but I do feel we have a huge way to go and the potential to do so.

 How is the new album different from Everybody Wants?

It’s the simple thing of, we had a long time to do the debut. We had the best part of about two years to get the second one recorded. For the most part, it started off very difficult and then there were a couple of key moments six months in, where a song like “Primadonna Like Me” suddenly comes out of the woodworks. It’s almost like mining, if that makes any sense. You go down into the unknown, you have no idea what exactly you’re going to find and you keep pushing. And every now and then you find this big chunk of gold. You know something is there so you keep going down that path. Once we had “Primadonna Like Me,” we had it. I think the real difference creatively between the first album and the second one is the number of reworks that there were done. At the end of the day, you only get one shot for a second album. There were a lot of reworks where I re-sang choruses, tweaking things here and there and sometimes there were whole entire new lyrics written. We were pushed out of our comfort zone a lot, but looking back I’m so glad that we did because it made a better album for it.

 

 

Looking at the band, you guys clearly take inspiration from other bands from those iconic eras of music. Like the Rolling Stones, Queen, even the Killers. What inspires you about these bands?

It all comes down to taste. I think it’s definitely a fact that when you look back at the ’60’s and the early to mid ’70’s, there was a time in music where style was as important and in some cases more important than the actual music. The really inspiring thing about that era was when you married the two together, both as potent as the next. Take Zeppelin for example. The Jimmy Page dragon suit and Robert Plant’s tight jeans. The trouser snake, the leather waistcoat, but then you look back and you’ve got this mighty music backing them up. They lend themselves to one another and they create fantastic harmony. I think with the Struts, from the get-go, I always wanted to create some sort of visual spectacle when people come and see the shows. I think it’s so important. We’re always trying to look different from other bands. We were always trying to celebrate being unique.

How do you achieve longevity?

I wouldn’t know much about it because we haven’t been around. But I think when you look back and you study the greats, the legends and how they’ve managed to keep up, I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think you have to have an extremely hard work ethic, you have to work harder than the people in front of you and the people behind you. It’s another case of staying true to what you feel is fantastic and what your fans will enjoy and what new fans will enjoy. I think it’s also about being smart, as well. You have to be smart and actually know when to take a step back and have a look at the world around you and see what’s going on. For instance, I feel so hopeful about this band and this music because we’re living and breathing what’s going on at this time. I’m certain we are filling this gigantic void within the industry and airwaves and media and television that people are connecting with and loving.

I definitely think that some people lose their longevity because they’re constantly encouraged to get back on the train and keep working. You can also become stale that way. First and foremost, I think you have to be making great songs. Even the Rolling Stones, when they had their strange period in the 80’s, there were always two or three legendary songs on all of their albums.

 

References   [ + ]

1. And hair metal was defeated by Grunge. Rock music is like Highlander.
2. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that glam snorted a bunch of testosterone and cocaine and became hair metal.
3. The rock band, not the sexy comic book from the ’90s.
4. By the way, I’m not including Panic! At The Disco in this scenario. That’s a whole other league, my friends. How do you think I learned how to close a God damned door