Q&A with THE STRUTS!
Posted On 23 Feb 2016
Tag: A$AP Ferg, ABBA, AC/DC, Adam Slack, Addo Slack, AIR + STYLE, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Amarillo, Artist, Artist Interview, Austin Powers, Bohemian Rhapsody, Camden, Camden Town, CHICAGO, Derby, Derbyshire, Downtown Los Angeles, DTLA, EMI, England, Everybody Wants, Festival, Festivals, Folk, Freddie Mercury, Gethin Davies, Guns N Roses, HAIM, Have You Heard, Have You Heard EP, Incubus, Interscope, Interscope Records, Interview, Jed Elliott, Jumping Jack Flash, Kombucha, L.A., LA, Lady Gaga, Las Vegas, Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, Louisville, Luke Spiller, Michael Jackson, Mike Meyers, Mike Myers, Motley Crew, MUSE, Music, Music Festival, music interview, musicians, New Orleans, New York, Paris, Philly, Portland, Queen, san diego, Shaun White, The Arctic Monkeys, The Monarch, The Navigation Inn, The Rolling Stones, The Struts, U.K., United Kingdom, United States, Vegas, Waynes World, Welsh, Welsh hymns
A UK-bred band full of reckless swagger and hugely catchy hooks, THE STRUTS are returning the sweet and dirty spirit of glam to modern rock & roll. Having already taken Europe by storm with such feats as opening for the Rolling Stones at the Stade de France before a crowd of 80,000 in Paris last year, the newly L.A.-based four-piece is now breaking through to American audiences with their exhilarating debut EP: Have You Heard and coming out on March 4th, THE STRUTS will be releasing their eagerly awaited debut album, EVERYBODY WANTS .
With their glitzy-yet-scrappy aesthetic—not to mention frontman LUKE SPILLER’s snarling vocals and otherworldly range, THE STRUTS might seem to have stepped straight out of the ‘70s. But as proven on lead single “Could Have Been Me” (a thrillingly anthemic track that’s racked up more than 8 million plays on Spotify and shot to the top five on Modern Rock radio charts), THE STRUTS fuel their high-powered sound with an urgency that’s entirely of the moment.
On Have You Heard, Spiller and bandmates ADAM SLACK (guitar), JED ELLIOTT (bass), and GETHIN DAVIES (drums) match their super-sharp melodies and bright and shiny guitar riffs with a lyrical sensibility both heartfelt and brash. Made in collaboration with the likes of Gregg Alexander (a producer/songwriter and former frontman of the New Radicals), the EP kicks off with “Could Have Been Me” and unleashes a surge of raw energy that never lets up. With its driving rhythm and chant-along refrain:
“I wanna taste love and pain/I wanna feel pride and shame/I don’t wanna take my time/I don’t wanna waste one line”
The arena-ready track finds the Struts staking their claim for glory while inspiring every listener to do just the same. From there, Have You Heard slips into “Kiss This,” a breakup song that forgoes the minor-chord moping for gritty guitar and fantastically scathing lyrics:
“I did all I could/So kiss this one more time ‘cause I’m gone for good”
“‘Kiss This’ was inspired by a relationship breakdown/meltdown,” says Spiller. “It’s about being cheated on, but the message is really about standing up for yourself—sort of our version of a ‘Young Hearts Run Free’-type song, but in a rock mentality.”
On “Put Your Money on Me” (recorded with Alexander during a road trip from Darby to the south of Spain, in a van filled with “lots of booze and lots of stories,” as Spiller puts it), the band let loose with hip-shaking rhythms and a soulful groove.
THE STRUTS are in the midst of their first stateside tour, having added more dates and upgraded to bigger venues in response to their rapidly growing fanbase. As in the studio, the band aims to infuse their live performance with plenty of passion and flash. “We’re not afraid to go out there and really put on a show, get everyone in the crowd involved,” says Slack. And in that building that connection, THE STRUTS aspire for nothing less than blissed-out transcendence.
“I don’t see any other point of going to a rock show than to really get into the music and lose your inhibitions,” says Spiller. “When we’re up onstage we try to bear that in mind, to push the audience and get up close with them and challenge any self-consciousness they might be feeling. We want to do what we can so that everyone can let go and just have a great time.”
And THE STRUTS did just that and more winning over the crowd at AIR + STYLE . Enjoy as All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa catches up with the band backstage at the festival to talk music, fashion, Waynes World, kombucha (say what?) and everything in between!
Hey there Luke, Adam, Jed and Gethin! You guys just performed here at AIR + STYLE in Los Angeles. How was it?
Sweaty! Very sweaty! We played at the top of the day so it was a bit…hot.
AIR + STYLE is a pretty eclectic festival as far as music goes…we have a lineup of funk, rap, metal, rock and indie music with artists like A$AP Ferg, Incubus, HAIM on the bill…what kind of music do you guys listen to?
Luke: You can tell whomever put this lineup together has bashed their head a few times, which is appropriate since it’s a sports and music festival. (laughs) It’s kind of a fantastic mash up, really. Everyone is here for both which is cool. I think collectively as a group we are not stuck in some sort of box. We love all kinds of music and artists.
Jed: I don’t think anyone in this band is “too cool for school” with any kind of particular music taste. Our band’s playlist goes from AC/DC to ABBA to some weird folk songs to Gethin’s favorite Welsh hymns growing up. We did recently play some ABBA during sound check and I must say….it sounded AMAZING! (laughs)
For those perhaps living under a rock and not as familiar with THE STRUTS, how did you know you wanted to be in a band with one another?
Luke: We started the band about six or seven years ago and we’ve been touring for over four years now together. Admittedly, I’m a little bit older than the rest of the guys and I was working a full time job. I knew that it was like “now or never” if I didn’t just quit my job and start taking the band seriously. I knew I always wanted to do this. The band that I was in at the time, split up and this one formed and it completely breathed new life and enthusiasm back into the dream.
So you guys are just “scratching the surface” here in the States. What has been your favorite state so far that you’ve been to on your current tour?
Adam: Well, collectively we all love Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philly….San Diego was rather nice. New Orleans was amazing…Portland too! Honestly, we love it all! Even driving through places like Amarillo and Louisville. We’ve actually seen quite a bit of the United States. We enjoyed playing Vegas but not mad for it…but that’s probably just because we lost some money gambling!
Jed, I see you are drinking some Kombucha…you do realize that is very LA of you.
I had it once and it made me feel like I was high off my tits! (laughs) I felt like I was gonna die today in this heat and I saw one of these bottles of Kombucha and I was like, “Yesssssss!!!”
If you were not in this kick ass band getting paid to play music and travel with your mates, what would you be doing?
Jed: If I was not fortunate enough to play music and be in a band as a profession, I would be doing something so that I would be able to travel and see the world. I would want to be traveling anyway, so this in itself is an absolute dream for me…all of us, really. To be able to play music and travel is the ultimate! It’s pretty amazing.
Luke: I love to travel, but not necessarily in a band. What I mean though, is I absolutely love playing the shows but it’s different. I gotta be in bed early…I can’t party as much as I would like to (laughs) so the travel is great but more so when it’s at your leisure. Touring is great, but it’s a bit of a tease though which can be good… to be able to “sample” places by visiting a cool city or place we like and then to go back at our leisure and spend more quality time there is lovely.
The Struts have had the honor of performing for over 80,000 people as the opener for The Rolling Stones in Paris. That is pretty damn impressive! How did that come about and what was that experience like? It must have been an out of body / bucket list moment for sure….
Luke: We have a lot of great friends and support from radio and Paris radio has been really good to us. From what we hear, there was a sort of committee for these big shows and festivals as it were. They liked us and after that, all they wanted to know was if we could handle a big crowd.
On our Have You Heard EP there is our song: “Where Did She Go,” a lovesick but infectiously stomping epic that first came to life when I was about 15. My parents had just moved to this horrible seaside town, which wasn’t a great place to be if you’ve got long hair or you’re just an individual in any way. One night I was walking home quite drunk and started singing to myself, as you do, and this melody eventually came to me. I remember thinking, ‘What kind of melody could you get a whole football stadium full of people to sing along to?’, and then going from that. I sang it to myself the whole way to keep it in my head, and then I got home and wrote it all down. I guess it’s all full circle.
Luke, let’s talk about fashion for a moment…
Luke: We are not a band that is just gonna perform in our hoodies. (laughs) We could spend all day on Melrose when we’re here in Los Angeles, but some of the vintage shops are starting to carry the same thing and it gets boring so I like to switch it up. I love the designer, Ray Brown. He’s done stuff for The Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Guns N Roses, Motley Crew, Lady Gaga and the list goes on….
You also teamed up with the great Zandra Rhodes, the legendary designer who formerly created costumes for Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Brian May for some of your costumes and outfits too, isn’t that right, Luke?
Yes! DAME Zandra Rhodes! She created this shimmering-blue cape custom-made for me along with other fabulous pieces. Ironically, right after she worked with me, she was given the title Dame!
So when I think of Freddie Mercury then naturally I think of his band, Queen which leads me to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which of course THEN leads me to the movie, Waynes World! I don’t think you guys would be out of place making a cameo in a Mike Meyers movie like Waynes World or Austin Powers. Would you ever do something like that…make a cameo in a film?
Jed: It’s funny you say that because I actually had the pleasure of meeting Mike Meyers in New York! We were chatting at the bar for about five minutes. He was telling me about his parents from Liverpool. I was kinda spaced out and didn’t realize who it was and it was just so lovely chatting with him…so when I shook his hands, I was like, “Great chatting with you…what’s your name?” “And he was like…Mike” (laughs) And then I looked him in the eyes and was like, “Mike Myers? …Fuckin hell!” (laughs)
Do you have a local part of town or bar back home that you love to hang out at or perform at?
Luke: When we were just getting going as a band and trying to get our footing, we had a residency at a local spot called, The Monarch in Camden (in London) where we played at for about four months and built up a great following. Before the band properly formed we played covers, some blues and would improvise. I remember we did a three hour set in Adam’s home village called The Navigation Inn and we would play until like 3 in the morning sometimes!
Adam: We played “Jumping Jack Flash” like six times in a row one night! (laughing)
You guys will be releasing your album, Everybody Wants on March 4th and you’ve already filmed a few videos. Do you enjoy collaborating on the videos?
Yes, last year we filmed the video “Could Have Been Me” (which was #1 on Spotify’s Viral Top 50, #4 iTunes Rock singles chart, Top 5 in US Alternative & Active Rock charts) with director Jonas Ackerland, whose worked with Madonna, Lady Gaga, U2, The Rolling Stones, Beyonce.
We just shot a new video and it’s a great compilation of the last six months traveling through the states. The video for “Could Have Been Me” is more us playing characters. I’m sorry to break it to you and our fans but what was going on in the video wasn’t real. I mean it’s about 40 percent accurate. We don’t always wake up swigging a bottle of Jack Daniels in the morning with a naked woman in our bed. (laughs) I mean, it has been done, but not daily…unfortunately. (laughs)
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