For British rockers The Struts, opening for The Rolling Stones was just the beginning
Luke Spiller won’t rest until he’s a rock star, and he’s dredging up the oil left by the dinosaurs of classic rock as his band brazenly attempts to become as big as Queen.
He has a couple of things going for him: As the frontman for the English rock band the Struts, he exudes Mick Jagger’s cocksure swagger onstage and bears an eerie resemblance to Freddie Mercury. In fact, he wears stage outfits designed by Zandra Rhodes, the English designer who outfitted both Mercury and Queen guitarist Brian May.
Spiller’s band played in front of 80,000 people in Paris as the opener for the Rolling Stones, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters recently declared the Struts the “best opening band we’ve ever had.” There’s no denying such high-profile support slots give the band a boost, but Spiller says it’s difficult to measure success as a modern recording and touring group, particularly when the bandmates’ goals are so lofty.
“It’s funny, isn’t it? Define ‘success,’ really,” he said. “Bob Dylan said success is being able to get up in the morning and go to sleep again, and everything in between that is doing what you want. On the other side, we define success with chart position, cash flow, and how your business, which is your band, grows. In terms of breaking America, I’d say we’re taking a giant leap forward. We’ve covered an enormous amount of ground over the last three years. Everything is moving toward this second album.”
The Struts’ sophomore album, Young&Dangerous, dropped on October 26. The band plays Ace of Spades Sunday, November 11 as part of its plan to take over the world. Really, this is just more of the same from the Struts. On “Could Have Been Me,” the first single off their 2014 debut album, Everybody Wants, Spiller lays out his arena-size aspirations in no uncertain terms. In the first line, he sings, “Don’t wanna live as an untold story/Rather go out in a blaze of glory.”
“I just know that this band is meant for bigger and better things,” Spiller said. “Our music is always written with that in mind. If I was happy at this level, where we’ve been for the past three years, this album wouldn’t be as strong as it is, because I wouldn’t have resung everything a hundred times. … my managers wouldn’t be so driven. … We want to be the biggest band on the planet.”
It’s potentially off-putting that Spiller and his bandmates—guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies—are making music rooted almost entirely in stuff that happened 40-plus years ago. Pitchfork recently mocked Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet for being a “classic rock vampire act,” and, similarly, the Struts seem to be peddling in nostalgia. However, Spiller and company put on such a convincing Mötley Crüe-style show that it’s easy to believe the most popular and culturally relevant forms of music are still played with guitar, drums, and bass — that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dormant, but dominant.
Spiller says it’s never been the band’s mission to revive yesteryear’s music.
“I think people have to be very careful with regurgitating a genre and not adding anything new,” he said. “I think there’s a real danger in that, and I think what the Struts have always wanted to do is take the music that really inspires us and push it in another direction. … I think what we’re doing is creating a new era of rock and glam-rock.”