Interview with the one-and-only Luke Spiller of The Struts

In advance of two concerts planned for December 28th (SOLD OUT) and December 29th at the Fillmore, I had the pleasure of speaking with The Struts’ lead singer, and front-man extraordinaire, Luke Spiller!

{Interview and photos by Rick Pettine}

Rick Pettine (IP): Hey, hello Luke – how are you?

Luke Spiller: Well, I’m really, really good. I am bathing in the sun like a Komodo dragon, minus the poison venom – so doing good. And just working like a dog, mate.

IP: You’ve got quite a marketing machine going, so hopefully you’re taking some time to chill.

Luke: I don’t chill mate, I have one gear going!

IP: Okay! Well thanks for spending some time with me ahead of your back-to-back shows in Philadelphia in December (I’ll be in the photo pit for your second show, so looking forward to that.) So let me start with Philly…Philly has always embraced The Struts – we have a 50-year old Rock and Roll radio station here, WMMR, and their personalities (including Pierre Robert, Preston & Steve, and others) just adore you guys, as do the many fans in the area. What stands out in your mind about Philadelphia fans, good or bad?

Luke: Well, firstly, they are absolutely fantastic.  Secondly, you know Philadelphia…Philly is just so inspiring in terms of what’s happening there because it just…it really puts any sort of questions that the band may or may not have about the quality of music, or what we’re doing, basically to bed…because you know there are only a few places in the world that are showing the support that Philly, and WMMR for instance…and it just really goes to show that if we have people that believe in what we do and they back…the music brings the people in. You know, these 2 shows we are about to do are, technically, going to be some of our biggest shows of the year if you combine the attendance of both shows together.

IP: Wow, that’s fantastic.

Luke: It is, it’s just fantastic and we feel so lucky for a place to get behind us so much…and, yeah I love it man, I can’t wait, I can’t wait.  The only other place we’ve ever seen something like this happening is Italy, funny enough just this year, where we’ve had like a level of support which is on par with what we are experiencing in Philly, especially the radio stations and media…and you know we did like, what, I can’t remember…we went from like 700 people earlier this year when we first played Italy, and then we returned and it was like 3500 people.  That’s the power of support…that’s the power and passion, the power of radio, media…you know it’s always a pleasure to like connect.

IP: Terrific – so I remember, and I believe it was your first concert in Philly, not sure, but I was in the audience with my son, it was December 2015 at the TLA, and you tried out a new song live for the first time, Only Just A Call Away, ahead of the 1st album.  Why did you choose Philly for that particular debut, and do you have any treat planned for us this December?

Luke: (laughs) – Um, you know obviously I could tell you some amazing fairy tales, but being so long ago I wouldn’t be able to remember, um…you know I definitely think there was a sense of occasion playing Philly for the first time, and Only Just a Call Away was something we were trying to…and I believe we only recorded it and put it out on the album, probably it must have been about, I don’t know…I image it would have been recorded, mastered, and put on the track list for the album maybe several months before that show.  So we said like we’re here, Pierre’s going to be here, WMMR is going to be here, let’s give them something that’s going to be unique and we know that they’ll appreciate.  Yeah, I think it went down really well.

IP: It really did – the audience loved it!  And your chemistry connecting and engaging with the audience is phenomenal.  I’m amazed how you reach such a diverse fan base – so what’s the secret sauce that makes the music resonate?

Luke: I don’t know man, like if I knew I would probably tell you and manipulate it in a way, but all I know is this…the music that we reach to produce and create, it always comes from, dare I say, classic sensibilities. So, I think that will result in a wide range of demographic in an audience because it’s like…we pulled from sounds and structure and what not, from things that some of our older member of the audience would find, you know, reminiscent and, dare say, kind of like romanticize about it.  And then for the younger generation, it reminds me of when I discovered bands like The Darkness, and all of my heroes weren’t really going at the time when I was listening…and that sort of resonated with me.  You know, yeah I knew it was playing like a throwback sound but it just felt so fresh because it was the musical environment at the time, and I think we are doing something which is slightly similar in that way, and we are experiencing the same results all because of the music and the way we chose to do things.

IP:  Yeah, from my perspective it’s a little 80’s rock and rock with swing…it’s very engaging, which is leading to the appeal of so many different folks, as I’m sure you can see when you look out in the audience.

Luke: Yeah, every night mate (laughs)…I’m there, I’m there!

IP: Going to your latest album, Young & Dangerous, I read a quote from the press assets that one underlying theme (and I’m sure there are many) is to empower those that feel a bit out of place to pick up an electric guitar.  In the US, and maybe the UK, there are School of Rock organizations that feed this inclusion and passion for performance and rock…Is this a message that is personal to you or to maybe your mates?

Luke: I mean, it’s interesting isn’t it…you know we’ve been a group for a very long time, and, for instance sometimes when I do interviews people are pulling quotes and things that I’ve said going back 6-7 years now, but there is some relevance with that one.  I think it’s a few things, like I know what it is like to grow up in an environment and sort of, I wouldn’t say struggle, but cope with being true to myself and cope with standing by the records and the bands that I adore.  You know, it’s tough to sort of go against the grain and swim against the tide in terms of taste in music and stuff like that.  And so, I’ve always considered The Struts as a group and an entity as somewhat of an underdog, and in a lot of ways we still are. Umm…I’m not at the level that I want to be and…don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely loving what I’m doing and I’m so thankful for the support that I get, but I’m also hungry for more.  And the music, definitely Young & Dangerous, at the moment and in time has these musical statements which, you either love it or you hate it.  And in terms of kids listening to it, I’d love to think that when they hear some of our songs they want to get together with their friends and play in a band.  Because mate like…I’ve only been in two bands my entire life, The Struts and then my school band, and that was pretty much the same for, pretty much all the members of The Struts.  So we all know the importance and how special it is when you get together with your friends and create music…it’s kind of like a connection that just can’t be replicated, and the bonds that you make in those, sort of, great years when your mind is developing and your tastes are expanding. So I guess the underlying message is that in any shape or form, I’d love for The Struts to be a part of any young person’s musical journey.

IP: That’s a fantastic message.  And you mentioned feeling like an underdog…maybe that’s yet another reason why Philadelphia loves you so much because at times, whether it’s sports or otherwise, we feel like underdogs, but we’re fighters and we’re hungry and want more – maybe something else that’s behind the love we have for each other. Thank you for sharing that.

IP:  I also understand you are a car guy, and would love to see that ’83 Austin Mini up on stage with the Struts one day, but if you could own any car that conveys your personality, what would that be?

Luke: Oh my God, well there’s a few…so up in Studio 50, I came so close to buying this beautiful, I think it was a 1958 Bentley S1, which was white and had this gorgeous soft red roof, which is very strange, and is also right hand drive as well, and was in immaculate condition, and I was like, I’ve got no home, I’ve got no where to put this, but I’m in love with this f***ing car, where am I going to put it? I believe that car may even still be for sale so, as Wayne once said, “she will be mine!”

IP: You should grab it!

Luke: I mean I love that car in particular, but my dream car is a Mercedes Gull Wing.

IP: That’s a beautiful car…

Luke: Yes, that would be…I mean, lesson is if I’m going to dream big and shoot for the stars…in my 4-car garage I would have my Mercedes Gull Wing, I’d have my Bentley S1, I would ship over my 1983 Austin Mini Mayfair, which is my pride and joy, and I’d also have my Harley Davidson Softail as well, which is getting built at the moment (laughs).

IP: And you will have all of those, I’m sure.  That’s awesome…that is a very nice lineup.

IP: So honestly I want to be respectful of your time, and really appreciate you talking with me. As we wrap up, is there any personal message you would like me to share with your Philadelphia-area fan base?

Luke: I would just like to say thank you for being the greatest supporters of The Struts in the United States of America…it’s clear to see, and we are all going to see it when we play these 2 shows.  We can’t wait to spend an evening with you guys.  Thank you for being patient for waiting on new music…I can guarantee it will be happening and coming out early next year. And we hope that we can continue this gorgeous love affair that we have, and may it live on for a very long time.

IP:  Beautiful.  Well Luke thank you very very much, and we will see you in December! 

Luke: OK then, brilliant mate, I’ll see you then…and thank you so much for having me!

Be sure to check back at the end of December to see our concert photos and story of The Struts at the Fillmore!

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