The Struts – Luke Spiller

By: Lori Smerilson Carson | Live Photos by Sean McCloskey

Creativity and fun surround us at this time of year and The Struts new single ”Fallin’ With Me” certainly fits right in. This extraordinarily talented world renown rock band has created a fun, rocking, riffy tune that will have you tapping your feet and singing along. They formed in 2012 and since their debut album EVERYBODY WANTS was released in 2014, they have released a total of three studio albums and are working on their fourth. Lead Vocalist Luke Spiller, Guitarist Adam Slack, Bassist Jed Elliott and Drummer Gethin Davies are also taking their amazing live show on the road and South Florida fans can see them on December 3rd at the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Catching up with Spiller, he revealed some details about their new outstanding single and music, their new show, some bits about his past, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with this new show?
Luke Spiller: Hopefully some new outfits by then which is always a bonus. I’ve been working with my outfit designer Mr. Ray Brown sort of compiling a bit of a slightly different look that we sort of planned to roll out through this next record. So, there’ll be that, and then of course, hopefully not too much of a rusty performance as we’ve been so busy in the studio while we’re not on the road. So, we haven’t actually been doing a whole lot of practicing, but a whole lot of writing (he laughed). I’m sure it’s gonna be great regardless.

SFL Music: I heard the new single “Fallin’ With Me” and I saw the video. Loved it and the song is very catchy. What inspired it?
Spiller: Just to kind of give you a bit of a sense on how I tend to work. I sort of jot a lot of things in my phone when I’m kind of like, out and about doing things, whether its phrases that people say and what not. Then before you know it, I’ve got pages of things that I just heard which I’m like, oh, that’s interesting. When that song was created, at the time I was seeing this girl in L.A. and we would always meet up at the Rainbow (Bar & Grill) at the start of like a night when we first started seeing each other. So, that kind of worked its way into the lyric, and a lot of the things that are mentioned and the phrases and kind of one liners, are either things that we said to each other or sometimes things that she would say or I would say. It just kind of encapsulates like a little moment in time for me and yeah, a really kind of quirky song came out of it. I think initially, a lot of the lyric was pointing towards a more traditional heartfelt song, but when listening to the music, it kind of gave it a different dimension. It became a bit more cheeky and fun and quirky and dare say, a little bit more light hearted. Not like it’s not sincere, but it’s performance on the whole is a bit more fun. Yeah, it came all together very, very quickly in about forty-five minutes and then we kind of sat on it for a while because of COVID and what not. Then we revisited it and Adam sort of took the tracks away and laid a lot more guitar and everything, and it just kind of took on a completely different lease of life. We decided like wow, ok! This is still really exciting. Let’s put it out to sort of see us through to the next cycle, and it’s definitely like a bit of a preview of The Struts pushing into different areas that we haven’t done before.

SFL Music: Is that what the new album is going to display? Is there going to be like a theme?
Spiller: Yeah, to be honest, the theme, what I’m starting to gather now because we’ve been writing on and off throughout the entire year and what I’ve noticed is a lot of the lyrical content is being lifted from notes and things that I had written down when first really coming to L.A. in 2019. So, if there’s any slight narrative, it’s definitely the tale of an English man coming to Los Angeles and sort of finding himself being caught up in a lot of the trappings of the city of angels which is ironically named. So, there’s definitely that. Most of its very personal, but delivered in a way which still has like a bit of a wink and a smile to it. If that makes any sense.

SFL Music: Yes, it does. Is that what inspires you? Just your everyday life or personal events when you write your music?
Spiller: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s funny. The first two records, when I look back now, I was very fascinated with writing through the perspective of characters and projecting the personality that I had and would sort of channel when onstage. I think since STRANGE DAYS, I started to look way more introspectively with that third album and I mean, granted I don’t think it was possibly like musically our strongest collection of songs just because of the circumstances in which you know, we wrote and recorded them in less than a week. Normally we would spend an entire year compiling like thirteen to fourteen songs, but lyrically STRANGE DAYS was really personal for the most part and it breathed sort of like a new air of confidence. I realize that I’m at a time in my life that I’ve actually experienced a lot and seen a lot of things that I have a lot of inspiration to draw from personally, and it sort of helped me to evolve in my songwriting process. So, with this next record, I really haven’t been afraid to sort of look at my own experiences and draw from that rather than going, oh, you know, I’d love to sort of write a song about a prima donna. Do you know what I mean?

SFL Music: Yes, that makes sense. On STRANGE DAYS (released in 2020) you had a lot of world renown musicians on there like Joe Elliott and Phil Collen were on “I Hate How Much I Want You”. How did that come about?
Spiller: Like I said, the entire record was pretty much completed within ten days, including the songs, the tracking, the BV’s, like the vocals, the takes, everything. Of course, because it was recorded during lockdown, like the very beginning of lock down in California, I knew so many people that weren’t really doing anything and just like so many other people, I had made relationships with fellow artists that for the most part were not really doing anything. I found that whether it’s through social media or any other sort of means of communication, that people were kind of reaching out and just sort of wanting to chat and wanting to collaborate. So, we had all these songs and we decided that we really wanted the record to reflect a moment in time on every level and not think too much about like, on my gosh, this is our third record. Like how much is sort of hanging on this and what not. Having all of the collaborations was a big reflection on what was happening at the time. So, I just started going through my phone and thinking hmm. I wonder if Joe and Phil would be up to doing a song or you know, sending guitar tracks or anything. It was the same with Robbie Williams who I had befriended around the same time. We were sort of chatting on the phone and he was in Beverly Hills and I was in Burbank and that all kind of came together. Albert Hammond Jr., I had hung out with before and reached out to him to see if he would be interested and he said, “yes.” And of course, Tom Morello, we had done a performance with him and met each other a few times. It was just a really special unique moment in time that I don’t think we’ll ever be able to repeat again, but I was so happy that we didn’t think too much and we actually just threw the kitchen sink at the entire process and thought you know, instead of just having one person, we were like fuck it. Let’s get everyone whose interested, and it makes for a really interesting listen. I’m very proud of that record. It’s really unique.

SFL Music: What would you say inspired you to choose music as a career?
Spiller: Well, it was more so performing in my early years. I was obsessed with the idea of choreography and dancing and just something that was gonna sort of enable me to be on a stage and express myself physically, and I didn’t really think about singing per say until I was like in my early teens. I didn’t ever really fancy myself as a singer. It wasn’t until I started to go through the stage of what so many young kids do when they discover certain bands, certain music that they just become obsessed with, and there was definitely a turning point where I was God, I want to do this. I definitely caught the bug being at school. Having my school band, my close friends that I had at the time, and just the experience of being in a group. The comradery that kind of came with that and of course, the expression was great as well. I just sort of slowly found myself being that person that would sort of strut around school, claiming he was gonna be a rock star and that was the identity that I clung on to, which is funny. I look back now and I kind of think my naivety and sheer arrogance is kind of like, got me to where I am today. If that makes any sense.

SFL Music: That’s funny, yeah. Somebody said to you something about strutting around on the stage and that’s how you guys came up with the name, right?
Spiller: Yeah. it was like really early days and in fact, the entire group hadn’t even been assembled at the point. It was just myself and Adam. We were meeting up and writing when we could, and just coming up with songs and sort of beginning to learn the craft of what it is to write a song. We’d acquired a few session musicians to record a demo of a couple of tracks that we had composed ‘cause like I said, we didn’t even have the group. We had a manager, myself and Ads and that was it, but we were gonna shop the labels. We were in this rehearsal studio before going into the recording studio, and we had been trying to come up with this name and it’s fucking hard coming up with a good name (he laughed). It really is and my past experience with band names was, I did not have exactly a good track record. Let’s just put it that way. So, we definitely struggled and yeah, while at rehearsal, I was just kind of doing my thing and our manager at the time approached me and said, “hey, you know, you strut around. You should be called The Struts.” We swore that, that name had been taken, but no. Lo and behold, it hadn’t, but in fact, I found that there was a punk band none the less. Like back in the ‘70’s from Bristol where I grew up in the UK, called The Struts. So, that is such a bizarre coincidence.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to up-and-coming musicians?
Spiller: I would recommend never to sort of chase a trend because I mean, in the short term, it’s an intelligent thing to do and it’s always good to kind of have an ear to the ground so to speak, with things that are going on. So, you don’t want to totally alienate yourself from what’s happening around you, but only do what you really feel passionate about doing and sounding like because there’s gonna be so many people that are gonna try and persuade you to go the easy route and maybe approach your music with what’s hot right now, and to be honest, they’re only trying to do their best. They’re only trying to sort of help you, but when you’re an artist, it’s like, only you can really sort of steer the direction of the ship so to speak. The sooner people realize that, I think it really begins to help. I would say sort of stay true to your own vision and try and execute it, and as long as your passionate about it and you can hear it and you can see it, then go with it.

SFL Music: That’s good advice. Did you have formal vocal lessons?
Spiller: No, I’ve never had a vocal lesson in my life. I guess now I’m way more experienced and I’ve met a lot of singers from loads of different genres. I do realize that I’m incredibly lucky that I have just sort of been born with a big voice and somehow, I’ve sort of landed on a self-taught technique which enables me to sing a lot in a certain way. So, I kind of landed on my feet in that respect, and some people have that and some people don’t. I guess I’m just sort of lucky really, but I do remember there’s been little moments in my life, especially in that first band, where I would try things and I would sort of try for certain notes, different sort of techniques. I remember slipping into falsetto for the first time like when I was eighteen or so and sort of thinking oh, this is a good little tool. I’ve had so much studio experience now, which is a very different thing, and there’s been a lot of lessons learned being in the vocal booth and approaching songs and approaching different lyrics and sort of encapsulating a vibe that the song needs and deserves. That’s a completely different art form in itself as well. So, yeah, it’s just sort of been self-taught and through a lot, a lot of experience.

SFL Music: That’s amazing. You have an incredible voice.
Spiller: Thank you.

SFL Music: You’re welcome. Is there another new single coming up soon to follow “Fallin’ With Me”? What can fans look forward to with the new album? When is it due to come out?
Spiller: We are working our asses off to get this new record signed, sealed and ready to be delivered for the first quarter of next year. In regards to a follow up single, we still have a lot of time. “Fallin’ With Me” is currently, I mean, it might even go top fifteen at this rate, alternative. So, there’s still a lot of life in it which is a bit of a God send because we really want to get a follow up really right, and we’ve already got some incredible songs which we’re all unanimously very excited about. It’s funny. Every time you make a record, the singles in my experience anyway from what I’ve read and what I’ve personally experienced, is that they tend to come at the end of the process when your sort of running dry on ideas and fills and tempos. You’ve got people around you going, yeah, it’s good, but is it good enough? Then you sort of end up pushing and pushing and pushing yourself. So, we’re actually at that stage at the moment where, like I said, we have some really great music. We have a record. We’ve got plenty of gold, and now we’re sort of like chipping away at the dirt looking for a couple of diamonds.

SFL Music: That’s something definitely for fans to look forward to. Was there anything else coming up that you wanted to add besides the tour? Anything else for fans to look forward to?
Spiller: Apart from these holiday shows, I’ve had the pleasure to be doing some performances here in L.A. with David Bowie’s piano player Mike Garson which has been absolutely fantastic, where it’s just been myself and him playing piano. I’ve had a couple of musical guests. I had Chris Chaney (bassist) and Chad Smith (drummer) get up and play a couple of songs, but that has been really cool and it’s also been a really great exercise which has taken me out of my comfort zone and getting up on a stage and singing literally just piano and vocals for a majority of the set. I might as well be naked, you know what I mean? It’s so different. Normally I’ve got this crashing band behind me and you can kind of hide if you will behind sort of certain things, but again when it comes to, going back to vocal experiences and things like that, it’s been a really incredible eye-opening experience to approach songs where there’s nothing else but your voice and a piano. It’s a completely different delivery. That’s been really, really fun and we’ve got three more shows coming up. It’s all up on Mike Garson’s website. My last one is on the 17th of December before I go back home for Christmas.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want to add?
Spiller: No, that’s it. I wish I had more gossip to tell you. Like I said, we’re working as hard as we can to get some brand-new music out there after the holidays, as you Americans say.

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