96X Presents The Struts
Before even releasing their first album, U.K.-bred four-piece The Struts opened for The Rolling Stones in front of a crowd of 80,000 in Paris, got hand-picked by Mötley Crüe to serve as the supporting act for their four last-ever performances, and toured the U.S. on a string of sold-out shows that demanded the band move up to bigger venues to accommodate their fast-growing fanbase. Now with their full-length debut Everybody Wants, lead vocalist Luke Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies reveal the supreme mix of massive riffs and powerfully catchy melodies that’s already slain so many adoring audiences around the globe.
“Every time we go into the studio we just want to channel exactly what we’re all about onstage—something big, fun, unapologetic, rock & roll,” says Spiller. “We love a song that makes everybody sing along, and touring quite extensively over the past few years has given us a lot of inspiration to bring that kind of energy to our album.”
The follow-up to Have You Heard—a 2015 EP whose lead single “Could Have Been Me” hit #1 on Spotify’s viral chart, earned more than 2.5 million Vevo/YouTube views, and shot to the top 5 on Modern Rock radio charts—Everybody Wants unleashes anthem after arena-ready anthem. Pairing up with producers like Gregg Alexander (former frontman for New Radicals) and Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Mick Jagger) and recording in such far-flung locales as a refurbished London church and a studio in the Spanish region of Andalucía, The Struts prove the iconic power that’s prompted Yahoo Music to name them “one of the most exciting and electric performers in rock today” and MTV to proclaim the band “well on their way to bringing rock & roll back to the forefront.”
Throughout Everybody Wants, The Struts offer their own undeniable twist on sweetly sleazy glam-rock, delivering huge hooks and making brilliant use of Spiller’s otherworldly vocal range. Even the album’s breakup songs come on full throttle, with “Mary Go Round” backing its dreamy acoustic balladry with heavy drums, blistering guitar work, and fantastically glam-minded lyrics (“I can’t even pour myself a glass of wine/Because every glass is stained with your lipstick shine”). Also evidence of The Struts’ romantic sensibilities, the sweeping, heart-on-sleeve intensity of “A Call Away” offers a stirring testament to love against the odds. “It’s about when I’d just moved to America and had a girlfriend back home, and everyone was asking how I was going to make it work,” explains Slack. “The song’s saying that we’ll make it work no matter what, no matter how many miles apart we are.”
At the core of Everybody Wants are power-chord-driven tracks like the hard-charging album-opener “Roll Up” (a “larger-than-life caricature of the person I am onstage, very glamorous and very cheeky,” according to Spiller) and the gritty-yet-exhilarating “Kiss This” (a breakup song whose “message is really about standing up for yourself—sort of our version of a ‘Young Hearts Run Free’-type song, but in a rock mentality,” Spiller notes). With its hip-shaking rhythms and euphoric harmonies, “Times Are Changin’” recaps the band’s recent glories (“I’ve been to New York City, I met the Rolling Stones”), while “The Ol’ Switcharoo” blends bubblegum melodies and horn-backed grooves into the world’s most irresistibly fun tribute to girlfriend-swapping.
The Struts also show their skill in merging high-drama storytelling and pop-perfect melody on Everybody Wants, with “Black Swan” spinning a darkly charged tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers. “I’d thought that ‘Black Swan’ would make a good title, so Luke and I started writing it together one night in his room,” recalls Slack. “We finished the melodies, and the next morning he’d come up with this whole tragic love story to put into the lyrics.” And on “Where Did She Go,” The Struts close out Everybody Wants with an infectiously stomping epic that first came to life when Spiller was just 15. “My parents had just moved to this horrible seaside town, which wasn’t a great place to be if you’ve got long hair or you’re just an individual in any way,” he says. “One night I was walking home quite drunk and started singing to myself, as you do, and this melody eventually came to me. I remember thinking, ‘What kind of melody could you get a whole football stadium full of people to sing along to?’, and then kept going from that.”
Forming The Struts in Derby, England, in 2012, all four members began making music as teenagers, initially finding inspiration in groups like Oasis and the Libertines and then tracking their idols’ influences to discover the glam bands that would one day shape their own sound. “When we first started, we both just wanted to make fun, happy rock songs with big choruses—the kind of thing that bands like Slade and T. Rex used to do,” says Slack of his collaboration with Spiller. The trademark tongue-in-cheek swagger of classic glam also played a key part in the naming of the band, Spiller points out. “We were in rehearsals and someone saw me strutting around as we were playing, and made the suggestion that we call ourselves The Struts,” he says. “We loved that from day one—it absolutely represents what we’re about.”
Largely on the strength of their dynamic live performance, the Struts fast built up a major following and started selling out shows all across Europe. Along with landing the Stade de France gig with the Rolling Stones, the band took the stage at the 2014 Isle of Wight Festival, with Spiller decked out in a shimmering-blue cape custom-made for him by Zandra Rhodes (the legendary designer who formerly created costumes for Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Brian May). Over the past few years Spiller’s role as a style idol has prevailed, with the New York Times recently spotlighting the singer in a fashion-centric feature and Ray Brown (an Australian designer who’s also dreamed up outfits for AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and Lady Gaga) coming up with costumes for The Struts’ run of dates with Mötley Crüe.
In their lavish stage presence and magnetic appeal, The Struts have more than demonstrated a preternatural command of monumental crowds. But while all that glitz and flash never fail to thrill, the band’s impassioned music and high-powered spirit also fulfill a far greater purpose. “The main mission of the band is to bring back that feeling of fun and rock & roll, especially to all those people who are bored by what’s going on these days,” says Spiller. “We really believe that music, when it’s done right, can help you escape the present moment, and then just send you somewhere else entirely.”