The Struts Work Hard to Give Their Fans a ‘Big Smile’
While supporting a major arena rock band historically comes with, at best, indifferent reactions from the audience, the quartet has been winning over audiences with its glam-inspired sound and image. For frontman Luke Spiller, it's all because of their approach to their shows.
"I want to make sure everyone leaves with a big smile, everyone has their money's worth," he told Cleveland.com. "Most importantly, just fun. Forgetting about what's happening and escaping for an hour and a half, or maybe more."
It helps that they've forged a friendship with headliners the Foo Fighters."The band became and continue to be great mentors to us," he said. "They're all lovely, honestly. They're all really great guys."
That desire to please has led to a pre-gig routine that begins 12 hours before Spiller takes the stage. It includes, as he told The New York Times, having girlfriend Linda Cartier begin applying his makeup at least three hours in advance so that it's ready for the meet-and-greets. But he does find time to loosen up with an AC/DC playlist and a whiskey and Diet Coke.
Formed in 2009 in Derby, England, the Struts have since relocated to Los Angeles, and released their debut full-length, Everybody Wants, in 2014 to acclaim, with "Could Have Been Me" becoming a rock radio hit. Musically, they've drawn comparisons to Queen, particularly with regard to Spiller's over-the-top vocals and stage presence.
It's one that Spiller, who looks quite a bit like the mustache-free Freddie Mercury, welcomes, and last year he penned a Top 10 Queen song list for Louder Music where he eschewed their hits in favor of deeper cuts. "They brought me into a musical world that I felt a real connection to," he wrote. "Everyone else was listening to indie rock like the Killers and Razorlight and the Libertines. I was, like, ‘No, this is my world.’"
Watch the Struts Perform 'Could Have Been Me'
Spiller has even sought out Zandra Rhodes, who designed costumes for Mercury and Brian May, on his mother's advice. Rhodes created a pair of tops for Spiller, including, he noted, a "shimmering, cobalt blue frock with hand-painted gold accents."
The Queen fixation has come in handy on the Foos tour, where Spiller regularly joined the band onstage for a cover of "Under Pressure," with drummer Taylor Hawkins taking the David Bowie part while Dave Grohl gets behind the drums. One night's performance was so intense that it led to Spiller having a sort of wardrobe malfunction.
"I remember I gave Taylor a quick hug, and as we were saying thank you to the crowd and I walked off -- I hugged Dave Grohl, and he sort of said in my ear, 'That was so great, man,' and I was about to walk away. And he grabbed me again, and he was like, 'You know what happened yesterday, after I got back to my microphone after 'Under Pressure,' there were sequins all over my pedal board.' And then he laughed. I thought it was quite funny."
Watch the Struts and Foo Fighters Play 'Under Pressure'
Even though it might have required extra work to clean off Grohl's pedal, it didn't hurt their relationship with the band at all. Last week it was announced that they will return as the Foos' opening act when the tour resumes in July. But between now and then, you can also catch them on the road, playing clubs and festival stages through June 3. Check out the dates below and get full details on their website.
The Struts have also finished recording their second album, although it's in the process of being mixed. "I think everyone's really going to enjoy it," he said. "We were very much aware that even though the band has lived with the first album and the songs that come with it for quite a while, for everyone else, it's relatively fresh. So I felt like it was really important to make this second album somewhat depart from the first one. Not a departure musically, I didn't want to go completely left. I think it's important to give people more of what they fall in love with."
The Struts Spring 2018 Tour Dates
May 15 -- Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
May 17 -- Kansas City, MO @ The Truman
May 18 -- Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater
May 20 -- Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Fest
May 22 -- Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
May 23 -- Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
May 25 -- Napa, CA @ BottleRock Napa Valley
May 29 -- Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
May 30 -- Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
May 31 -- Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
June 1 -- Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
June 3 -- New York, NY @ Governors Ball Music Festival