There’s nothing more worthy of a groan and eye roll than when someone laments the fall of music and pines for the day when there were “real” rockers like Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Robert Plant
There’s nothing more worthy of a groan and eye roll than when someone laments the fall of music and pines for the day when there were “real” rockers like Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Robert Plant. It’s an argument everyone’s heard at one point or another, despite the fact that it could very well be said about any time period in musical history. Still, when you discover a band like English rockers The Struts, it makes you wonder if there just might be a bit of truth to the argument you’ve dismissed for so long.
Since 2010, The Struts have been electrifying crowds in England with a quintessential rock sound that’s firmly bolstered by an uncanny live performance that leaves most concert-goers with their mouths on the floor. It’s true rock and roll with a sound that leaves you no time to comprehend what sub-genres it borrows from as it demands your attention from the get-go with an intensity rarely matched in music’s past and present. This intensity and their infectious energy even bleeds through on their recordings as it’s perfectly captured on their debut record released in England last year entitled Everybody Wants. With England firmly in their grasp, the bold quartet now has their eyes set on conquering America with their music as their re-released single “Could Have Been Me” continues to gain momentum and their audience growth multiplies.
Talking with the acclaimed frontman Luke Spiller, it becomes very apparent that the bravado and flash he utilizes so efficiently on stage is by no means an act. It’s Spiller’s concrete identity and one that provides him the confidence to truly set out to become bigger than anyone could ever imagine. “Our success in the US has got our foot through the door, but I’m not satisfied yet. I want more so I’m ready to just keep pushing on until we’re the biggest band in the world with countless Top 40 singles.”
Sure, everyone wants to be the biggest band in the world and headline the biggest shows known to man. It’s nothing new, but to most people, they fully acknowledge that it’s a lofty goal to have, one that has a slim chance of actually coming true. To Spiller though, it’s not just some pie-in-the-sky plan – it’s the only goal for him and it’s completely reachable. “There isn’t one band out there who can come close to what we do with a live performance, let alone with our pop sensibility when it comes to a song. One of the reasons we’re so excited and confident is we’re completely on our own. There’s no competition in that regard.”
Hearing Spiller use the word competition as opposed to contemporaries or peers really says volumes to how the group views their placement in the musical world today. For The Struts, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot, not the time to make friends, even though it doesn’t seem like they would normally. “We don’t tend to have a lot of friends in bands. The competitive spirit is too fierce. Everyone’s in competition with each other, whether they like it or not. The competition is good for you and drives you to better things even if I know we’re above it. Part of the reason the competition is so absent for us is because the word band has become very vague. You’ve got the Foo Fighters and One Direction both being called bands, sometimes simultaneously. It leads a lot of speculation as to what a band is, but when you see us, there’s no wondering. You know this is what every band should aspire to be.”
It’d be easy to just label Spiller’s words as youthful arrogance, but as he continues, the work ethic that makes that arrogance valid starts to shine through. “You just have to take every day as it comes and strive to get better and better. If someone knew how to get from A to Z with skipping B and so on, a lot more people would be successful so the only way to do it is to press on and constantly challenge yourself. Right now, anytime we have off is spent in the studio and I’m not hung up trying to see the city I’m in each night. I don’t really care. I’m just here to do my job and get better at it. I’ll go sightseeing when I’m on holiday. Being on the road all night working – that’s what it’s all about.”
Sure, the casual arrogance still comes out to play, but when you consider the live reputation Spiller has, do you really expect anything different? It does make you wonder if this bluster will eventually fade, especially as he begins to feel the physical and mental effects of his intense theatrics after long tours. It’s an obvious thought, but not one that’s even crossed Spiller’s mind. “I’m an absolute fucking machine. I can go out and do whatever I want. Throughout this whole three month tour we’re on now, people have been dropping ill all around me, but I’m a machine. Nothing slows me down. I’m completely good and I can do it all. Give me 365 shows and I’ll do at least 360 of them, each one better than the last.”
There’s that bravado again, conveniently timed right after two long mid-sentence yawns (of six seconds each). Put these words in front of someone like Ozzy Osbourne or Dave Grohl and they’ll surely laugh and remember the days when they believed they were brashly omniscient and eternally vigorous. But that feeling also fueled the most revered of rock legends and pushed them to make the most indelible records and deliver unforgettable performances. As mentioned before, it’s not as if Spiller is just lost with his head in the clouds. He’s very aware of the work and detail needed to make his dream come true and can talk about that just as much as how he’s a “fucking machine.”
“We’re working on re-releasing the first album in the States and we’re all excited for it. When we initially released it in the UK, we ran out of money so a lot of songs you hear on the first record are essentially demos and everything was rushed. Now, we have the time to re-master and re-do it all to make these sounds properly presentable not just for the US, but for the world. We just played before our biggest headlining show yet which was two thousand people and it looks like it’s only going to keep growing from there so we’re excited to tackle it and also work hard behind the scenes to make sure it doesn’t stop.”
So far, Spiller and the rest of the group have been able to back this rhetoric up with their boisterous music and sensational performances. Only they know if they can continue it going forward, but as he made it so blatantly obvious, there’s not even a chance they’ll fail.
The Struts play The National this Wednesday night opening for Twenty One Pilots alongside PVRIS in a sold out show. If you slept on this show and missed your chance, don’t worry – just keep an eye on Craiglist, Reddit, and Stubhub for potential sellers. It will be worth it.