Not every band gets a second chance, but then, not every band is The Struts. After first releasing their debut album Everybody Wants two years ago but not quite receiving the support they needed, the U.K. glam rockers are back with a redo, and it's better than before.
Earlier this month, The Struts re-released their already stunning debut album Everybody Wants with five new tracks and an all new mastering process. The results is an alt-rock experience that is quite unlike most things that you hear on modern rock radio these days, a blend of The Libertines meets Queen with an extra pinch of The Darkness thrown in for good measure.
Following the release of the new album, Music Times chatted with The Struts' frontman Luke Spiller to talk about his band's second chance, "high octane" shows and distinctive style.
Music Times: Everybody Wants was just re-released with five new tracks, two years after it originally came out. Not a lot of bands get a second chance at their debut album. What kind of things were you looking to add?
Luke Spiller: Basically, long story short, the label and people we were surrounded by the first time around didn't really give the songs or the album the push they deserved. So we had this amazing opportunity when signing with Interscope with a whole new level of enthusiasm and general rapport. There was a bizarre second chance. We just wanted to do it for ourselves, look back into the record and see how we could improve it. For once, we had the resources and the time to do so. So, we wanted it to reflect more of what we did live, we wanted to have some better songs. I think we did that.
MT: When you wrote the new tracks, how did you work them into the preexisting songs? Did you have to revisit your headspace from two years ago?
LS: Like you said, it was quite hard to get back into the mindset of, "Look, this is going to be in effect a debut. What do we want to say? How do we want to present ourselves? What did we do wrong, so to say, the first time around?" So, I think it was always exactly what we've been about before, but it was more finely tuned. We had a slightly more defined image, and I think in general we knew exactly what we wanted to say. The message, of course, is always fun escapism on a lot of levels. We just honed into that a lot more.
MT: You've said that Everybody Wants is a record "for the disenchanted." Can you speak more to that? What messages are you hoping the audience grabs on to?
LS: I think, unintentionally and quite ironically, the way I see this group right now is a real alternative to a lot of the, I would like to describe it as the mundane things, across TV and radio. What I was saying in that particular quote is that I see the band as a new doorway and direction to go into if you're looking for something new. It's for anyone who's slightly bored and wants to be inspired and whatnot. So, that's how I described it.
MT: Since Everybody Wants is your debut album - what are some of your all-time favorite debuts?
LS: Up the Bracket by The Libertines and Bat Out of Hellby Meatloaf. Also, Mission to Land by The Darkness. Not only is it a near masterpiece from start to finish, as a listening experience, it's pretty solid and almost flawless. I would say as well Off the Wall by Michael Jackson breaking into his solo career. That's another great album sonically. Quincy Jones, of course, produced it. That is an amazing sounding album. I would say those are my top few.
MT: I sense a lot of The Darkness in The Struts. Was that a major influence for you?
LS: Yeah, totally. That band came at a very important and crucial time in my life. I was in my young, mid-teens and they were a complete force to be reckoned with, especially live. They really inspired me to sort of go where I am now. They inspired me in the level that, as long as you're amazing live and undeniable and really focus on that part of your package, so to speak, everything else follows through. Great songs and great live performances and talent will prevail. So, yeah, they've been a big influence.
MT: The Struts are known for having a great live show. If someone is gearing up to go to your tour, what kind of things should they expect?
LS: I say a high octane, high energy performance with a lot of crowd participation. You're going to leave the venue covered with sweat and a big smile from cheek to cheek on your face, possibly some blood or champagne of prosecco soaked in, depending on how much money I feel like spending that night.
MT: Sounds messy, but good. Do you enjoy touring? What do you like to do on your off-time on the road?
LS: Yeah, I enjoy touring. I'm still trying to kind of find my feet on it, in some ways. I guess when it comes to touring, I have to kind of alienate myself from the group on a lot of levels. I've made it my constant priority to give my best show every single night on the same caliber of performance and energy. In order to do so, I have to keep my own partying to a minimum. On that level, I don't get to do much. A lot of it is spent in hotel rooms watching movies. I kind of let my hair down in between the touring when I go on holiday and whatnot. It's a great opportunity to travel around. I like going to museums and whatnot; I like doing stuff like that. It's slightly boorish things, really, if I have the energy to do it.
MT: What have been some of your favorite sights and museums?
LS: In Colorado I went to the Museum of Science, I believe, which was really good. They had these really cool feature-length films and a really good dinosaur exhibition. I used to be obsessed with dinosaurs when I was younger, so that was sweet. Obviously, the first time around New York and L.A. have been really fun. Sushi in Seattle was another highlight.
MT: The Struts put a lot of effort into personal style. Why is that something that is so important to you and the band?
LS: Well, you know, in terms of style and the way I dress, I've been like that for a very, very long time. For instance, I've only ever been in one other band, and that was my school band, and it was in the same thing as The Struts. I've been trying to do this rock 'n' roller vibe thing and playing the music that inspires me and dressing the way I do for like 10 years now. In terms of myself, that's the way I enjoy it; it's a way of getting into character. It's giving the audience a level of visual performance rather than just listening to the album or CD.
In terms of the group, it has to be coordinated in the right way. I guess in a lot of ways, I take charge on that. I set the bar for the rest of the members in order to kind of go in between, if that makes sense.
MT: For sure. If you're in a glamourous outfit and the rest of the band is in T-shirts and jeans, it wouldn't look quite right.
LS: Yeah, you know what I mean. On the whole, I wear what I want and have done what I want for years. Finally, it's time to pay off.
MT: Do you feel like that sort of highly stylized performance is something that's missing from modern rock?
LS: Yeah, of course. I think there's something missing right now, today. Is that why I do it? I want to make it clear, that's not why I do it. I wear my influences on my sleeve, and that's fairly obvious to see. I'm just trying to emulate my heroes. I guess it's a beautiful coincidence that there's a lack of people dressing the way I do and having a band with a frontman that really gets the crowd going. So, in all of that, there is a lack of that. But I assure you, that's a pure coincidence.
MT: Of course. You're just doing you. So, what do the next two years look like for The Struts?
LS: Doing a lot more writing. We're working on album number two, which is already shaping up to look great. There's also continuous, continuous touring. Also maybe a holiday in January of next year for a week or so.