BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
At the 2016 Shaky Knees Music Festival, the Struts made a grand Atlanta entrance.
Singer Luke Spiller, 29, married the prance of Mick Jagger with the yowls of Slade’s Noddy Holder while commandeering the stage with gloriously glam anthems, “Let’s Make This Happen Tonight” and “Put Your Money on Me.”
The quartet from Derbyshire, England — Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, drummer Gethin Davies and bassist Jed Elliott — were promoting their then-new debut, “Everybody Wants.”
Now the band, which formed in 2009, is readying its sophomore release and recently dropped the Queen-esque new stomper, “One Night Only.” But in between recording, they’ve also been busy the past 18 months running around the globe opening for new mentors the Rolling Stones, the Who, Guns N’ Roses and Foo Fighters.
They’ll take the Georgia State Stadium stage before the Foos on Saturday. A bit of advice — don’t be late.
Spiller called recently from Beverly Hills — the band has somewhat relocated to Los Angeles, but as he points out, they really have no fixed address because of constant travel — for an amiable chat about their crazy-fun live performances, the influence of modern glam band the Darkness (also playing Atlanta on Saturday) and their “bonkers” new songs.
Q: You have proclaimed this as the Year of the Struts. Why now?
A: I think it’s all about the belief, really, in this new music. It’s definitely an evolution. I think it’s stronger than anything we’ve done before, more daring, and I think for that it’s going to be our year.
Q: How did you hook up with the Foo Fighters to start opening shows last year?
A: It came very randomly. We did a gig at the 9:30 Club (in D.C.) and Dave Grohl came down to check us out. We met him and stayed in touch and were lucky enough to be asked. They’ve been great mentors to us.
Q: You’ve also opened some shows for the Rolling Stones. What do you learn from Mick Jagger?
A: With a band like that, unfortunately, they might just not be around much longer, and they are truly masters. We got to sing and play with them now three times, so I feel extremely lucky. And other bands (we’ve opened for) like Guns N’ Roses, and the Who, that was a fantastic band to watch and study and try to figure out how they carry on doing this in their 60s and 70s.
It always comes down to the most important thing is the music and the performance, and I think a lot of bands get stuck on charts and radio and success, which is important. But hanging around these legendary acts, that ambition can only go so far. The love of performing and doing what you do, that really counts for something.
Q: Was (fellow modern glam band) The Darkness an influence?
A: Absolutely. I can’t stress that enough. There are some bands floating around now that sound so much like other bands, and for some reason, they don’t want to admit their influences. But when it comes to people who influence me, I shout about it. I was 15 or 16
andwhen (the Darkness’ debut album) “Permission to Land” came out and it changed my life. If I was to ever meet them, it would probably be a “Wayne’s World” Alice Cooper moment — “I’m not worthy!” They’ve been a big influence on me, personally, and really inspired me to look at stagecraft, and from discovering that band, it opened the door to AC/DC and Queen and Def Leppard. I owe an extremely huge amount to that band, and I’m so glad they got their stuff back together and are continuing to make music.
Q: They’re actually playing in Atlanta (at Terminal West) the same night you’re here and are friends with Dave Grohl, so this might be your chance.
A: What?! Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that!
Q: What can you say about the new album?
A: It is done, officially, but we are coming back in and out and tweaking things here and there and getting it right. At the end of the day, you only get one shot at a second album. It’s been a difficult process making a second album, as many bands before us have learned. The album has a life of its own; you think you’re going to do one thing and it becomes something else. But hand on heart, I can definitely say we’ve put our absolute blood, sweat and tears into it, and I think people will hear that as well. These songs are bonkers.
Q: What kind of statement did you want to make with it?
A: We want to do what we’ve always done, constantly progress and get bigger and bigger and improve as musicians and take fans on a really big journey and invite them into our crazy world. It’s basically gonna be nothing too self-indulgent and just boom-boom-boom — all killer, no filler.
Q: You guys occasionally cover David Bowie. Tell me about him as an influence.
A: Firstly, “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” is one of my favorite albums of all time. I’m a big fan of real strong character, concept albums, like “Sgt. Pepper” and “Pet Sounds.” But there is something so unique about the metering and the melody. Bowie is one of those people who once you get it and start loving a particular album or song, you have this whole universe at your fingertips and can get lost in it, which I absolutely love. I’d say most of our songs are written in the mindset of someone I’m making up in my head, especially on this new album.
Q: It’s so great to see rock musicians with flair on stage again.
A: We’ve come just at the right time. When the band was formed, rock music and guitar music in the U.K. were still selling bona fide CDs and records, and in the last five years, we’ve seen a huge decrease in that. So one of the most important things that any band can have now is live performance, and that’s what we’ve always wanted to do — be the best band.
With the Struts. 7 p.m. Saturday. $29-$99. Georgia State Stadium, 755 Hank Aaron Drive SE, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
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