LUKE SPILLER & ADAM SLACK (THE STRUTS): “We Are A Sweaty, High Energy, Raw Rock ‘n’ Roll Band”

THE STRUTS (Live at Newcastle University, U.K., February 18, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

They’ve been making big waves in The States, now The Struts are returning home to conquer the UK. Mick Burgess caught up with singer Luke Spiller and guitarist Adam Slack ahead of the tour.

It’s been a while since you last toured in the UK?

Adam Slack: It’s been around 5 years, back in 2014 when we did Everybody Wants. One of the gigs in Leamington Spa, we played to my brother and his four mates, I think. We did Exeter as well, where there were probably about 9 people in the audience. This time we’re playing 1000 capacity rooms all across the board. Shepherd’s Bush and Rock City are about 2000 and they look like they will sell out which is going to be amazing. We always really wanted to do it on our own turf and we’ve done it without massive airplay from Radio 1 and stuff like that, so it’s cool.

Is this your first visit to Newcastle?

Adam Slack: No, we played 8 years or so ago with McFly so it’s been a while so we are looking forward to coming back for a headlining show this time. Jed’s girlfriend is from Newcastle too.

How would you describe a Struts show?

Luke Spiller: It’s very theatrical. One thing we always try to do is give the audience a completely different experience to what they would have just putting the album on. So, we tend to add a lot of things to the songs themselves. There’s costume changes, there’s audience participation. We are a lot rockier than the record. We’re super raw live.

Adam Slack: It’s like a garage band version of the album really because it’s just me on guitar, I don’t have all the bells and whistles that we have on the record. It’s definitely just much more in your face. High energy and sweaty.

Luke Spiller: I’d say if anyone enjoys the music and is interested by that, I would encourage anyone to come and see us live, because that is really our bread and butter. That really is one of the biggest reasons we’ve been getting such promising opportunities. The only reason we managed to get the Foo Fighters one was because Dave came and saw us play live. I would definitely say we’re very much a live band and I think we take enormous pride in what we do live.

Dave Grohl gave you a glowing endorsement calling you the greatest band to ever support the Foo Fighters. That must be a great thing to hear?

Luke Spiller: Very nice. It’s quite funny, along with how amazing that year was, on and off, touring with them. To begin with, we were only meant to be doing one leg of the tour and then he kept asking us again and again. That comment in particular, not only did he say it to us all the time, which was really cool but then for him to say it in the UK on the radio was just great. He talks the talk and walks it as well, so we owe a lot to him and I’m sure further down in our career, that’s going to be quite a pivotal moment, that tour and what he’s said.

That must have made people sit up and take notice of you?

Luke Spiller: I noticed the moment it went up on Twitter, my publicist here in the UK said ‘NME want to talk.” That was the first time they’ve ever really wanted to know anything about us. It just goes to show the power of influence, doesn’t it?

You’re latest album, Young And Dangerous has been out for a few months now. Are you pleased with the reaction it’s received?

Luke Spiller: Yeah, really happy. We had great reviews pretty much all round. Everything I saw and everyone associated with us thought it had a great response. Considering how difficult it was to get it done and of course the pressure of it being a second album as well, on top of touring and travelling around constantly, I think we did a really good job of following up what we all consider a great debut. I think we’ve topped it, which is a real achievement.

You have done so much touring around the world already in your relatively short career. Has this given you material to go into your music and lyrics?

Luke Spiller: I definitely would say that we had a very unconventional road to where we’ve got to at this point, and that’s kind of seeped its way into the music. I wouldn’t say it’s the most conventional Rock album of 2018/2019 and I don’t think we’ve ever been that kind of band so our unconventional opportunities and the way that we’ve gone from A to B to C, has worked in our favour and suits us… in a strange way.

You’ve been very successful in America before you took off in the UK which is unusual for a new British band?

Luke Spiller: It’s so weird, I think if you had asked me when we first got together that this is what’s going to happen, we wouldn’t have believed you because I really can’t think of anyone, especially bands that are our age to go out to the United States and literally have such a completely different response has just been such a unique experience. Again, it’s worked in our favour, I think.

You’ve pretty much played in most states in America, haven’t you?

Adam Slack: Yeah, something like that, 43, 44, or something. It was kind of the same thing, it wasn’t a conscious choice to go to America, it was that fork in the road really. We had just left our management over here, on the verge of getting dropped and then out of nowhere we managed to find another management who thought that we should go to America because we thought our music would do really well over there and they were right. We spent the majority of the last 3 years there which I think a lot of bands don’t do. We were at a fork in the road at that time. We probably were going to break up if we got dropped because we didn’t live together, we lived miles away from each other in the UK and we had nothing really going for us so it was kind of like a last extra life that saved our career really.

Why do you think that America has taken to you so quickly?

Luke Spiller: We always had the music and that ironically was the thing that saved us and the song that really saved us, spinning even more in irony, was talking about how we wouldn’t change and how we would stay true to ourselves. It just took a life of its own and we felt that we were right all along.

You’ve done a lot of TV in the US now too?

Adam Slack: Yeah, we did Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, that was really cool, but it was all over there so a lot of people over here didn’t really get to see that stuff.

Your music has been described as Glam Rock. Is that how you see it?

Adam Slack: I wouldn’t say it’s Glam Rock in the sense, like T-Rex and stuff like that. I think it’s more the aesthetic, which is Glammy and then the influences are there but it’s kind of a mixture of everything. We draw inspiration from T-Rex, Slade, Bowie and there’s Queen, The Rolling Stones are in there, Oasis to a certain extent and Supergrass too. So, it’s a real mixture, all the music that we love.

Luke Spiller: I think Glam is a good label to stick on the group. First and foremost, the band has always been about pushing things forward and that includes the kind of Glam genre. Adam’s right, like he said, the aesthetic visually is quite Glam, sonically it’s not what people think as Glam and you flip that on its head as well and the music is like this melting pot of everything but we’re not carbon copies of Queen or The Stones or all these other bands. In terms of Rock music in general, we want to push things forward which is why we introduce a lot of different sounds into our music which we don’t really feel that people have done in quite a while or ever done before.

Adam Slack: Especially by a band anyway. Putting different elements of different genres, like modern techniques of recording is what we find exciting because it’s pushing our music, in the sense of Rock music in a different direction to just getting in a room and recording live like most bands do, which is great fun too as we do that as well, but certain songs it’s just fun to try different elements that are more 2019. Come and see us play live and find out for yourself.

The Struts UK Tour starts on the 16th February in Leeds. See for more information.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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