Location: Shoreditch Studios, London
We ate: Croissants, giant pretzels and pain au chocolat
The number of times that Luke spoke of ‘willies’: 2
It was a spectacularly sunny Tuesday morning in East London. I had found a quiet corner to nurse my cup of tea and gather my thoughts. The corner was a haven from the chaos that surrounded me, it was quite a sight to see.
David Paul Vail, our incredibly talented photographer was rapidly snapping test shots of Harry, his handsome assistant. Fashion editor and stylist Jay Best was walking around the studio, a beautiful black jacket that was emblazoned with gun metal grey spikes in one hand and an exquisite black bowler hat in the other. Our ever efficient assistant Suzan, was precariously attempting to construct a tower of giant golden pretzels that would soon be devoured.
With my iPad in hand, my eyes darted from the imposing black double doors of Studio Two to the big hand of the clock. Based on my experience of dealing with conceited musicians, I had an inkling that the band would be late with a list of elaborate excuses up their sleeves, I couldn’t have been more wrong. At precisely ten o’clock the big black doors were wrenched open and sheaths of golden sunlight streamed in, illuminating the impossibly high ceilings and exposed brick of Studio Two. The team stopped in their tracks, all eyes were fixated on the doorway; The Struts had arrived.
Luke wears Shirt: Topman Hat: Beyond Retro
The Struts are a four-piece that are fronted by the dark and decadent Luke Spiller, an extravagant vision with a mop of onyx shaggy hair and kohl-rimmed eyes. His partner-in-crime, guitarist Adam Slack couldn’t look more different, with golden curls framing his face, azure eyes that shine like marbles and a persistently mischievous smile. Hidden behind a mass of chocolate brown hair is Jed Elliot, who impressively plays bass and last but by no means least is softly-spoken drummer Geth Davies, who looks like he has walked straight off of a Burberry campaign.
The Struts filed into the studio, all dressed head-to-toe in black and we exchanged handshakes. We gave them a tour of the studio, which ended in the hair and makeup room. The room had a really decadent old school Hollywood feel, with quilted foot stools and vast mirrors, decorated with glowing golden light bulbs. Luke immediately eyed the clothing rack which was groaning under the weight of an array of extravagant pieces. When asked for their thoughts on the pieces, Luke smiled and said: “Oh, I don’t mind, it all looks fucking great.” It was in that moment that I knew that The Struts and I were going to get on famously.
From the moment I saw The Struts live for the first time at Proud Camden, I was completely bowled over by their lack of conformity. Yes, you could clearly identify them as a rock band; the black eyeliner, wild hair and skinny jeans gave it away, but there was a completely original quality there too. It was their camaraderie, passion and determination that really stood out. You should be able to see these qualities in the eyes of every new band but it is scarcely the case. The Struts had an electric energy, which I presume can only come from being on the brink of mainstream success with the world to gain and nothing to lose.
Back in the studio, The Struts revealed that they had been on a train since the break of dawn in order to get to London from their base in Derby. They were shocked when I told them that it had taken a similar amount of time, just to drive from North to East London in London rush hour traffic.
All of a sudden Adam’s eyes lit up like fireflies and a mischievous smile played on his lips. He told me about a particularly treacherous road trip the band took to Spain. He leaned towards me, and said: “Oh god, it took us 36 fucking hours.”
He shook his head slowly and the rest of the band laughed knowingly. Adam, looked at me with those glittering eyes and said: “We were due to record in Spain and we had a ton of equipment with us, so we thought it would be fun to drive. We put our blood, sweat and tears into that journey. Trust me, there were a lot of bloody tears.”
The band all laughed raucously, Luke elaborated: “The bloody tears came when we were driving back through France and got caught up in this intense snow storm.”
Adam leaned back in his chair and said nostalgically: “It was fucking terrible. Everyone was asleep in the van and I was really bloody cold. None of the heaters in the van worked, the entire journey was an absolute nightmare.”
After the laughter had subsided, Jed added: “Seriously, the blizzard was mental. We laugh about it now, but that is only because we made it out alive!”
Geth wears Jacket: Dr Marten Shirt: Topman
The Struts first came to my attention, after I saw their magnificent cover of Cheryl Cole’s ‘Under the Sun’. The band not only put their spin on the track, they completely reinvented it and the end result was marvellous. Their most popular cover by far though was Daft Punk’s disco extravaganza ‘Get Lucky’, which has amassed over 300,000 hits on YouTube. The Struts have also covered a number of other high-profile artists whose styles stray far from their own including; Edith Piaf, Stooshe and Gotye.
Speaking of their covers, Luke said: “To put it simply, we decided to choose big artists but not particularly big songs so we could put our twist on it and hopefully make the songs even bigger. We recorded ‘Get Lucky’ as soon as it leaked, we had no idea that the song would be as massive as it was.”
A rapid scroll through the YouTube comments section on some of The Struts’ covers will reveal dozens of comments from fans who are desperate to hear more covers from the band.
When asked whether the band were planning to record any new covers, Luke shrugged and said: “We don’t really want to do covers any more, it was a way to engage with people and keep ourselves busy during breaks from working on our own original material.”
He added: “We are so grateful that people enjoy the covers, but now we have our own stuff out, we want to put 100% of our dedication into promoting our own original material.”
On the subject of original material, fans are anxious for details on their debut album. As we discussed their debut, the band became visibly excited; it was such a wonderful thing to see. Luke smiled proudly and said: “Hopefully it will be released in March or April 2014. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the name yet, but I can say that it is really good.”
We all burst into peals of laughter and Luke rested his head on his hand and said: “Sorry, I know that’s annoying but I can also tell you that every track is an absolute fucking banger. I’m a big fan of the classic albums that feature 10 solid tracks, so that’s what our album will be like, 10 solid beats.”
Fans of The Struts will know that some of their earlier work such as ‘I Just Know’ is significantly darker than their most recent single ‘Could’ve Been Me’. I asked Luke whether the band were pursuing darker themes on the album.
He revealed: “The album will be a whole body of work that has spanned five years. It is an eclectic mix, think Queen, ACDC and The Rolling Stones. I am really excited for you to hear it because when you do it will all make sense. The pieces will all just come together.”
The Struts have garnered a lot of support from more established artists such as McFly, The Vamps (who they share a manager with) and even the formidable Harry Styles, arguably one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now.
The band told the tale of the particularly hedonistic night that they first encountered Harry Styles of One Direction fame. Geth laughed knowingly and said: “It was a mental night! We were in London and had been to a party hosted by MTV. We were pissed off our faces, looking for McDonalds, and across the street we saw this guy that looked like Harry Styles.”
He added: “Then we were like ‘fuck me that is Harry fucking Styles!’”
That mischievous smile that was becoming oh so familiar played on Adam’s lips once more and then he too burst into a fit of laughter. He looked up at me through a fan of golden eyelashes, feigning innocence, he said: “Whilst they were talking to Harry Styles, I was being ambushed by a prostitute. She approached me and asked if I wanted to be introduced to ‘her girls’, who would offer me an unforgettable night for £40.”
We all burst into fits of raucous laughter at Adam’s filthy anecdote. After the laughter had subsided, Adam joked: “No thanks, £40 is cheap, I like to keep it classy.” To which a chorus of laughter erupted from the table once again.
The band revealed that they stood in the street talking to Styles for a while and the next day Styles followed the band on Twitter. This may not seem a big deal to some, but Harry’s 18m Twitter followers would argue otherwise. Many of them send hundreds of tweets to him every minute, hoping that he will one day return the favour and follow them back. All in all it is quite the privilege to be acknowledged by Styles and The Struts are grateful for all the support that they have had.
Luke smiled and said: “Styles was really sweet, he is such a cool guy. We feel privileged to have anyone enjoy what we do. Up until now we’ve been true to ourselves and produced music that we enjoy, so if people like it too, then that is truly fucking great.”
The conversation took on a new lease of life as we discussed the bands current position. I saw a glimmer of the raw and undeniable passion that first blew me away when I saw them. The Struts are currently in a fundamental and undoubtedly rather exciting position. They are on the cusp of mainstream success, but remain untainted by the industry and retain most of the freedom of an underground band.
Luke looked particularly serious for the first time during the interview. Speaking of their inevitable success, he said: “It has never been about money. We are already big rock stars in our heads, so I don’t think much will change. We can’t wait for the music to be heard on the level that it was designed for, in a decent-sized venue. Really, we just want to see everyone having a great time.”
The rest of the band nodded in agreement, Jed added: “The Vaccines have this reputation as a really hardworking band and that is something we want to emulate. We want to be known as a band that really puts the work in.”
Luke pondered: “You’re right. We are in this really fundamental time when things are really starting to build momentum. That is especially great for us because then we can concentrate solely on putting on the best show. We are taking every day as it comes and trying to seize every opportunity.”
Adam wears Leather Gillet: Beyond Retro T-Shirt: Topman Hat: Beyond Retro
What is most impressive about The Struts is their camaraderie. During my time with them it quickly became apparent that the band are truly completely at ease with one another. The boys are clearly great friends as well as band mates, this was most apparent during a conversation where we joked about how the boys would spend their first million.
Luke smiled playfully and pondered: “I am going to buy some land and make it into a conservation site for squirrels. There will be a river for otters and I’ll have the Countryfile team round every fortnight. It is going to be amazing.”
We all laughed long and hard, Adam retorted facetiously: “Fucking hell Luke, you are like a Hobbit.”
The idea of Luke’s conservation site really took on a life of its own, through fits of laughter Geth chimed in: “Luke, you should keep honey bees on your site!”
Adam adopted a mock-sombre tone and added: “Good one Geth, bees are dying out man. The Struts need to save the honey bee.”
I suggested that if Luke was going to keep bees then the next logical step would be to produce his own line of Organic honey.
Luke laughed hard and said: “Well there’s an idea! Hopefully we can have a hugely successful album, then I can return to my conservation area and roam with my bees, otters and squirrels.”
He gestured wildly to Geth and said: “Geth, you can be my housewife. Make the roast, fluff the pillows and look after the bees. I’ll be sure to look after you and give you a sweet room in the house and lots of affection.”
Geth nodded in agreement and Adam added: “The rest of us will come over for sleepovers, oh god it will be fucking great.”
Aside from his inevitable career as a beekeeper, it transpired that frontman Luke is a jack of all trades. He proudly revealed that he was currently working on producing a musical. He smiled and said: “Unfortunately, I can’t say too much about it at the moment because it will probably take me a few years to pull together. It will be set during the Victorian times though, kind of like Downton Abbey meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Clearly a man after my own heart, this announcement delighted me to no end as I am a fan of anything pre-1970’s. From Luke’s description, the musician sounds spectacular, a perfect hybrid and something that I suggest you keep your ear to the ground for.
Jed wears Shirt: Topman
There is an assumption that all rock bands are hedonistic, promiscuous and obscene and there is no denying that The Struts have a debaucherous side, but on the whole they were, dare I say, rather sweet.
Adam divulged that one of his biggest fears was people thinking that he was rude. He smiled softly and said: “Sometimes people think I am rude, but really I am just shy. I really hate the whole handshaking thing, I get really nervous about it.”
Luke nodded and frankly revealed that he suffers from Hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating usually from the palms and soles of the feet. He added: “When I go to shake someone’s hand, I have to bear in mind that it’s like I have pissed on my hand. So every handshake’s a different experience, sometimes it’s wonderful, other times I slip and slide through it and you see the other person wiping their hand on their trousers after. If they are really polite, they wait until I turn around and then do it.”
For a moment I was transported back to The Struts’ gig at Proud Camden, I recalled a group of girls staring up longingly at them throughout their performance. Since the gig, their predominantly female fan base has gained even more momentum and you only have to look at their Twitter or Instagram’s to see adoring comments from dedicated fans. This led me to wonder about their stance on groupies. First of all I asked which band members were in relationships, Jed and Geth raised their hands. Luke and Adam, who I had lovingly dubbed as the promiscuous troublemakers of the group smiled coyly at each other.
Luke smiled devilishly and said: “Bloody hell, it is still the morning, too early to get down and dirty. Oh well, if you insist. It really depends, groupies don’t tend to be relationship material, but I suppose if you just want to get your willy wet…”
Luke wears Jacket: Beyond Retro Jeans: Topman spray on skinny jeans Shoes: Jeffery West
My initial instincts were right and I got on with The Struts famously. The interview was effortless as they were articulate and each had a devilishly dark sense of humour. We rarely stuck to the questions I had prepared as the conversation would often flow into other areas, each more hilarious than the next.
As the interview drew to a natural end, Luke looked up sincerely and said: “We just want to say thank you for arranging this with us. It has been really great, we should start every day like this. Can you call me every morning and ask me a few questions to get me going? I think that my life would improve ten-fold.”
After the interview, the boys spent the next few hours shooting the fashion editorial that is accompanying this interview. They were professional throughout, took direction from the photographer beautifully and were adventurous with their outfit choices. They were willing to try anything, you really couldn’t ask for more.
After the fashion editorial, we thanked the boys for being such great sports and they thanked us again for having them. As they filed out of the studio, there were no handshakes just hugs all round. After the boys had left, I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror only to discover that my mascara had run down my face. The boys had had me literally crying with laughter and had left me resembling a panda.
You see, that is the effect The Struts can have on you, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Struts are all wearing Topman spray on skinny jeans and shoes by Jeffrey West
1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Adam: Have a cigarette
Luke: Agreed, definitely a cigarette
Geth: Coffee (said in a very cliche and hilarious New York accent)
Jed: Have a bloody nice brew
2. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Luke: I had dreams of being a ballet dancer
Geth: I’ve never really painted or anything but I was really into art as a child.
Ad: I wanted to be a Postman in a red Mini
3. If you could offer advice to your twelve-year-old self, what would it be?
Luke: Don’t let your uncle touch you there. No, too far? Seriously, work harder, listen in school, learn fucking French for fuck sake. It would make it easier to talk to French girls. When we go to France I’ll probably end up shouting at them really slowly in English!
Geth: Don’t listen to what people tell you to do, do what you want to do, within reason obviously.
Adam: Don’t listen to one band for three years, listen to more. I listened to Green Day solidly and it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I listened to other bands. If I had listened to different bands, I would have been a better guitarist at an earlier age.
4. You have 24 hours, with no travel restrictions, how would you spend it?
Luke: Oh fuck! I’d go Amsterdam and spend a week off of my face.
Adam: Monicha said 24 hours not a week!
Luke: Oh yes, shit, sorry. Well it would seem like a week because I would be so fucked.
Geth: Patagonia! It is this place in Argentina where loads of welsh people emigrated and they speak Welsh there.
Adam: BOOM! I’d go to Lake Titicaca, then BOOM the pyramids, then BOOM the Great Wall of China, then BOOM Siberia.
Jed: End up in Cheryl Cole’s bed?
Adam: No, I’d pop up whilst she was in the shower and then BOOM I would be gone.
5. The most exciting thing that has happened to you this year?
Luke: I mean it’s all been pretty exciting. I’m yet to have a ‘pinch me’ moment, I reckon something will happen at the end of this year.
Geth: We’ve met loads of cool people, working with Jeffery West and shooting our video was probably the most exciting parts though.
Adam: I agree! Filming the video was great, especially when we got absolutely wrecked.
6. The film that you can watch over and over yet never tire of?
Luke: Jurassic Park
Adam: I’ve seen gladiator 20 times, I can watch it every day, I know every the word. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!
7. What character can you relate to the most in any film, book, TV show and why?
Adam: Peep show’s Mark Corrigan who is played by David Mitchell. You know the awkward monologues? It is the way he is so socially shit, especially with girls. Sometimes I think god, that’s exactly what I’m like. Sometimes I look at my life and I’m so Mark Corrigan.
Luke: Edith Piaf. I recently watched the film on her life, I can really relate to her.
Geth: Hmmm, I don’t know.
Jed: Geth, you are Ringo!
Adam: God, do you know what, McCartney still looks really good.
Luke: Fuck off, he looks like an owl.
8. If you could commit one crime and get away with it, what would it be?
Adam: Murder, pure and simple.
Luke: Fuck it, I would eat a big fat swan. I would keep it free-range, let it live a good life and then fatten it up and eat it. I’d sedate it first though.
Adam: Sedate it and then fucking eat it alive? God!
Luke: I would feed it McDonald’s milkshakes and get it really bloated, it would probably die of a heart attack before I had the chance to sedate the poor fucker.
Geth: I would steal a really exotic zoo. I would parade through my zoo on a massive elephant, that is the dream.
Adam: I have always had this dream. I have a massive house in the country with these huge imposing gates, and there is this sign that says ‘beware of the pride’. Behind the gates is basically fucking Pride Rock from the Lion King.
9. The song that always makes you emotional?
Geth: I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses.
Luke: Never More by Queen. I want that played at my funeral, it is literally the most beautiful piece of music. Oh fuck, imagine putting a bomb in your coffin and taking everyone you love with you?
Adam: Fucking hell, Luke! Don’t Go Away by Oasis, always gets me.
10. If you could spend an entire day with anyone uninterrupted who would it be?
Luke: Probably Nicki Minaj, we could walk on the beach in bikinis. I could take her out for a few cocktails and then hopefully get lucky with her. That is one woman I would literally eat with a spoon.
Geth: It would be amazing to spend an entire day with Ian Brown.
Adam: Geth, you could take him to the cinema and carry him in your arms like a pug. In the cinema you could turn to everyone and say ‘shush, Ian’s having a little nap’. I would love to spend the day with Russell Brand, I would love to have a debate with him.
Luke: Seriously, if you were going to fuck a man it would have to be Russell Brand wouldn’t it?
11. It is Friday night at midnight, where are most likely to be?
Luke: Well, this Friday we will be in Paris at midnight.
12. What is your biggest vice?
Luke: Cigarettes, generally stuff that mentally slows you down. I have a whole list of vices that they say you shouldn’t do.
13. What is people’s most common misconception of you?
Luke: That I’m a girl? You’d be surprised. I eyed this girl from the other side of the room. She came over and asked where my jacket was from, I told her it was from a vintage shop. She bloody apologised and said that she thought I was a lady. Oh well, could be worse. I can’t blame anyone but myself, I have long hair, wear make up and occasionally wear tights.
Geth: Some people think I am English because I don’t have a strong Welsh accent anymore.
14. How would you like to be remembered?
Luke: We were nice, honest not too crude but not up our selves. There’s a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance, I would never want you to walk away thinking of us in a negative sense.
Adam: I hate bad manners, politeness is very important to me. It would mean a lot if people thought that we were polite.
15. What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Adam laughed devilishly and winked.
Luke: No! Not that Adam, because you always end up going on Facebook after that. I always have a cigarette before I go to sleep.
Geth: We all call out to each other, I say “Goodnight Adam”, he says “Goodnight Geth” and so on.
Behind the Scenes with The Struts for The Arcadia Online from The Arcadia Online on Vimeo.
Follow The Struts on Twitter: @TheStruts
Like The Struts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thestruts
Visit The Struts’ Official Website: www.thestruts.com
The Struts next single ‘Kiss This’ will be available to buy on 3rd February 2014
David Paul Vail
Paulina using ScreenFace