Foo Fighters founder Dave Grohl has referred to The Struts as “the best opening band we’ve ever had,” which is high praise from the guy who has been keeping the heart of rock ‘n’ roll pumping since the mainstream essentially gave up back around the turn of the millennium.
The fiery quartet from Derbyshire, England has two albums under its belt and are throwing it back to a time when Slade, The Sweet, and T. Rex were in heavy rotation. You might think that doing so is a thankless task given the amount of plastic pop and meandering trap music that is being celebrated these days, but The Struts remain committed to the cause.
I spoke with frontman Luke Spiller regarding the band’s latest release, “Young & Dangerous,” and how they plan to give Buffalo fans the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show they’ve ever seen. With Canadian up-and-comers The Glorious Sons sharing the bill, their date at Canalside on July 25 should be the best $5 you’ll spend all summer.
MNOD: After experiencing success with the first album, how did the creative process for “Young and Dangerous” change?
Spiller: The first record was lovely. It was very casual and quite enjoyable. It didn’t feel like work. “Young & Dangerous” was super stressful at times, because most of it was written during our time off in between extensive touring. It was a complete mindfuck, but I’m super proud of what we made and the work of everyone involved.
MNOD: Do you feel as if the band reached another level on this album?
Spiller: It’s kinda hard to judge records against one another, because I feel like each album represents a particular moment in time. The songs track where we were at in our lives and career. I was definitely more excited this time, though. We had been working on these songs for quite a while and we were excited to get them out there to the people.
MNOD: Who were some of your greatest influences as a younger musician?
Spiller: I grew up adoring Michael Jackson, which led me to Motown, James Brown, and eventually more rock-based music. Queen, AC/DC, the Stones, The Darkness. I was obsessed with Led Zeppelin when I was younger, as well. Those bands planted the musical seed that has stayed with me ever since.
MNOD: Now that you’ve gotten a healthy dose of touring in America, what are some differences you’ve noticed between here and England?
Spiller: America is another fucking planet. Your parking lots are like the size of a whole town in England. One thing I’ve noticed is that Americans love to talk. They love to fucking chit chat. They’ll strike up a conversation with a total stranger without hesitation. That’s actually something I miss when I’m back in England, because I’ll take an Uber and be disappointed when the driver doesn’t ask where I’m from or if I’m in a band. In terms of audiences, we’re blessed to have a fanbase that loves what we do and is into our particular style of music, so the fans aren’t really that different here. Of course, our touring in America is still relatively small compared to England, so any overall comparisons aren’t super accurate given how one-sided they are.
MNOD: You’ve been covering “Dancing in the Street” during your recent shows. Where did the idea for that cover come from?
Spiller: That’s a random one. We were approached by Dodge about doing a version of the song for a car commercial and decided to do it. We had been listening to the Van Halen version, but I’m not a fan of that cover so much. I prefer the original, so our version is an interesting hybrid of each. It was actually forgotten about for a while until Dodge told us they loved it and said they were going to use it in a commercial to be shown throughout America. It’s something we never expected, but it’s exciting.
MNOD: “Body Talks” features a collaboration with Kesha that may not have been expected by fans. How did that come about?
Spiller: We met her at a college show that we were playing and we just started chatting. She’s a rock ‘n’ roll chick at heart, so it was easy to see her fitting in with us. We were thinking about who would work on the song and she was the first person who came to mind. We were super lucky, because we flew to LA and knocked the vocals out while having a lot of laughs. It was very genuine.
MNOD: Because of how de-emphasized rock music has become in 2019, do you ever feel as if the band is struggling against a changing tide?
Spiller: We’ve never been deterred. I actually like it that rock is kind of in a mainstream slumber, because that means that there aren’t too many others doing what we do. We can set the bar. I’ve always felt that if you’re writing and playing with passion, then people can’t ignore you. We do what we love and it doesn’t matter what the outside trends are.
MNOD: What can fans expect when you play Canalside?
Spiller: The greatest rock ‘n’ roll show on Earth is what the fans in Buffalo can expect.
The Struts play Canalside on July 25 with The Glorious Sons.
“Young and Dangerous” is available now wherever music is disseminated, but do us all a favor and pay for a physical copy.