The Struts Are Putting the Swagger Back in Rock ’N’ Roll

The last band with pure exuberance and panache to hit the scene and remind everyone what rock and roll was about in the first place—raw edge and rebellion with a don’t give a shit attitude—was The Strokes. Now, The Struts invade the U.S., blending hard rock’s stomp, glam’s over the top attitude, and power pop’s infectious hooks. Add some black leather, makeup, disheveled hair, piss-off looks, and anthemic songs that put Oasis to shame, and The Struts effectively kick all the hard melodic rock bullshit in the balls. Luke Spiller, who fronts The Struts with the swagger of Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury and Mark Bolan, agrees: “I think the public and music folk as well are feeling slightly bored with what's happening at the moment,” he says. “We are definitely coming along at the right time.” Already making a huge splash back home, this UK import is showing the states what’s been missing—even if we didn’t know it. “We never gave our music to the U.S. until now,” he says. “The moment we stepped out here it's been pretty crazy. … We want the world and here's a great place to start.”
New Times caught up with the Derby, England band’s vocalist and founder Luke Spiller between legs of The Strut’s first North American tour to discuss opening for The Rolling Stones in Paris last year, the band’s pop sensibilities, and a breakdown of the band’s Have You Heard EP.

The Struts are scheduled to perform at Friday, November 13, at Pub Rock in Scottsdale.
New Times: One of things that strikes me about The Struts is the energy that inhabits your songs. It’s like real rock ’n’ roll is back. Am I on base with this assessment?

Luke Spiller: Yes, that seems to be the feeling of a lot of people. But for me it's more about doing what you want. Rock ’n’ roll music is my biggest influence, so it's no surprise it comes across in the music of The Struts.

Do you think there’s an edge lacking in rock music today; that too many artists are concerned with the bottom line and not simply making music with feeling and energy?

Everything goes round in full circles. This is just the beginning. I think the public and music folk as well are feeling slightly bored with what's happening at the moment. We are definitely coming along at the right time.

“Put Your Money On Me” is, despite the gritty guitar solo, something of a glossy pop song, while “Kiss This” feels raw and in your face. How do you strike this balance in your songwriting?

We've always had a subtle pop sensibility about us. We want to reach as many people as we can and I think that comes across in your writing if that is your goal. And that's what pulls you back at times and gives you this “balance” you speak of.

Black leather jackets, longish unruly hair, great song hooks, and total confidence… do The Struts have role models?

We do. It's pretty obvious who they are. Just the usual suspects really.

England and Europe have embraced The Struts. You’re slowly making inroads in the United States. Why has the U.S. been so slow to pick up on The Struts?

It hasn't. It's just that we never gave our music to the U.S. until now. The moment we stepped out here it's been pretty crazy. America has embraced us from the word go. We want the world and here's a great place to start.

That said, how was the first leg of the U.S. tour?

Fantastic! Could not believe how many beautiful people came out to see us. Every night was a real treasure.
Break the Have You Heard EP down for me. Give me the context of the songs and why they were selected for this EP? Some have been around a few years.

The songs for the EP I felt was exactly what we wanted to say on a first impression. If we were to arrive at a party where no one knew us… These would be our theme songs for the night.

“Could Have Been Me”: Simply the anthem.

“Kiss This”: Our tribute to Primal Scream and the Rolling Stones.

“Put Your Money On Me”: The band living out its ’90s super band fantasies.

“Where Did She Go”: A song that was written under the influence. One of my favorites.

Would it bother you if I said “Where Did She Go” sounds like a lost Oasis track?

I would say more like Slade. But that also backs up your point. Noel [Gallagher] was heavily influenced by them. So I guess that just makes it even better.

The “Oh oh oh” refrain in “Kiss This” is vaguely Stones-like. Think this could have led to you opening for them?

Hmmm, maybe. I still can't believe that happened. The truth is, I don't want to know how that came about. I'll put it down to the right alignment in the stars.