A band with a big sound and swagger to spare, the Struts are a British rock group who deliver a pop-infused brand of hard rock that owes a debt of influence to the glory days of U.K. glam. A number of writers have compared lead singer Luke Spiller's sound and style to that of the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, and their eager embrace of hooky melodies and singalong choruses suggests a modern-day variation on the approach of Slade or Sweet in their glory days. The Struts sounded polished, confident, and playfully decadent on their debut album, 2014's Everybody Wants, while 2018's Young & Dangerous added the sheen of contemporary pop and dance music to their starry-eyed rock & roll attack.
The Struts were founded by songwriter and lead vocalist Luke Spiller, who was born and raised in the South West London community of Bristol. Spiller grew up in a Christian household, and had little exposure to secular music before he discovered Michael Jackson's album Off the Wall when he was seven years old. While Jackson fueled his early ambitions to be a dancer or a pop star, Spiller's tastes evolved and by age 11 he was a serious fan of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. At 16, Spiller started singing in local rock bands, and in 2009, he met guitarist Adam Slack. Both of them were working with groups that were on their last legs, and they decided to join forces. The two were living in Derby, and they started writing songs together. After three years of woodshedding, Spiller and Slack decided it was time to take their project to the stage, and with bassist Jamie Binns and drummer Rafe Thomas, they debuted the first edition of the Struts. Binns and Thomas didn't last long in the group, and in 2012 they were replaced by Jed Elliott on bass and Gethin Davies behind the drums. The group won an audience through steady live work, and in 2012, they released their first single, "I Just Know," via Future Records. It wasn't long before Future went out of business and Virgin-EMI signed up the Struts; their first single for the label, "Could Have Been Me," was issued in October 13, while an EP, Kiss This, arrived in April 2014; their debut album, Everybody Wants, came out three months later. The LP was a moderate success, and Spiller's rock star vibe won him a guest appearance on Mike Oldfield's 2014 album Man on the Rocks, with Oldfield quipping, "He did a much better job of sounding like a rock star than me." That same year, the Struts were tapped to open a show for the Rolling Stones in Paris, where they played for a crowd of 80,000 people.
In 2015, the band landed a U.S. record deal with Interscope, and their American debut, the EP Have You Heard …, was given a digital release in August of that year. The EP included the two-year-old tune "Could Have Been Me," and it became a hit stateside, rising to the Top Ten on the Rock Airplay and Alternative Songs charts, while it made the Top 20 in the Mainstream Rock and Hot Rock Songs surveys. Another track recycled from Everybody Wants for the EP, "Kiss This," enjoyed similar success, and in 2015 the Struts left England for Los Angeles. In 2016, Interscope gave Everybody Wants a belated North American release with bonus tracks; it topped out at 99 on the Top Albums charts, and 15 on the Rock Albums list. Touring dominated the Struts' schedule for the rest of 2016 and much of 2017, with the group warming up shows for the likes of the Who, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, and the Foo Fighters. (Foo Fighters' leader Dave Grohl praised the Struts as the best band to ever open for them.) A semi-acoustic EP, Live and Unplugged, was also released in 2017. The Struts returned to the studio to work on their second album, and October 2018's Young & Dangerous included a guest appearance by Kesha on the song "Body Talk," which charted in the United States in the Hot Rock Songs at number 15), Mainstream Rock (number 33), and Alternative Songs (number 12) categories. After the album came out, the Struts staged a headlining tour, as well as sharing more dates with the Foo Fighters. ~ Mark Deming