The flamboyant Luke Spiller has been compared to Queen’s Freddie Mercury, the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Tim Curry.
The Struts’ lead singer has no shame about it.
“Nothing’s really changed since I was 14 or 15,” says Spiller, who grew up in Bristol, England.
“I’m still doing the same thing—fantasizing and imitating my heroes and now I get paid.”
And getting paid he is. Only founded in 2012, The Struts have opened for the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, The Who and Guns N’ Roses. Spiller is inspired by many of these bands.
“I still look and take inspiration from the same people—and finding new ones as well, newfound heroes,” Spiller says.
“Quite recently I discovered Bruce Springsteen, which I think my tour manager is solely responsible for. I always knew of the music, but a few years ago I really started to dive into the back catalog and immerse myself in the catalog.”
He’s been listening to “Thunder Road,” “The River” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Recently, he’s looked up to Scott Walker as well.
“I went through this unhealthy obsession with him for a solid six months,” he says of the late Walker. “At the end of 2019, Spotify was telling me my top plays and streams. It was quite funny to see the musical journey I’ve been on: 2018 Scott Walker, 2019 Bruce Springsteen—by a country mile.”
Young and dangerous
Spiller knows how to win an audience. Whether it’s on the phone or on stage, he just wants everyone to have fun.
Calling from Nashville, where he’s “busy making it big,” Spiller says it’s much too cold for his reptilian body and he needs to return to California or Arizona.
“I really can’t wait,” Spiller says about playing Innings Festival in Tempe on Sunday, March 1, with Weezer.
“We haven’t done a huge amount there. I’m really just buzzing to get back out and put on a good show, say hi to the fans and really get stuck in.”
The show may mark the debut of “a couple of cheeky new tracks,” which could appear on the follow up to 2018’s appropriately dubbed “Young and Dangerous.”
“Fans can also definitely expect the usual acrobatics and everything that is very typical of the show—a lot of energy and crowd participation,” he adds.
Spiller couldn’t say too much about the new material but did say his voice ties it all together—as well as rock ‘n’ roll moments.
“We’re touching on a few areas we haven’t gone before,” he says slyly. “I can tell you they’re really unique and really fun and definitely quality, from what I can gather. I’m super excited for everyone to hear what we’ve been up to.”
“Everyone” is a loaded assumption, but Spiller doesn’t really care if anyone likes it or not. Fans from ages 8 to 80 have so far grasped The Struts’ anthemic choruses, Spiller’s flamboyant costumes and the band’s tight sound.
“I feel extremely lucky to get out on the stage and look into the audience and see a beautiful variety of cultures and ages and backgrounds,” Spiller says. “I wasn’t fully aware of (the mix of fans) until we started touring relentlessly. We’re touching a lot of different people. It’s great. I love that we can be very inclusive.”
The shows have the feel of a revival, an ode to his preacher father and devoted Christian mother. He splits the audience in half and gets in the middle to encourage crowd participation.
“It was very evangelistic-esque,” he says. “If I could give you a visual example, it would kind of be like James Brown’s character in ‘The Blues Brothers’ preacher (the Rev. Cleophus James). I’ve been called ‘the rock ‘n’ roll preacher.’ I guess it made its way more into the live show than the recording. There’s still time. I can see a Hillsong album from The Struts and stealing the Christian album chart.”
The Struts’ live show is enhanced by costume designer Ray Brown, Spiller says.
“It’s always fun to come over and see him and whatnot,” Spiller says. “He does stuff for Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and Lady Gaga. He’s a real character and it’s great. I love calling him up and hearing his response when I ask, ‘What are we doing?’
“Honestly, it’s very collaborative. I’ll go through the internet and look for things that spark my interest and then, from that, I’ll tell him what I want the fit to be like. After a few conversations, we get on the same page. Maybe a month later or so, he’s cut something up that’s rough and I try it on. We both bring the vision.”
1 to 11 p.m. Saturday, February 29, and Sunday, March 1
Tempe Beach Park and Arts Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe