Luke Spiller on navigating music and performing during COVID-19

The Struts
Beth Saravo

In the age of coronavirus, we’ve all made adjustments in almost every sense of the word. That certainly is true for the music industry as well, and where the idea of concerts once stood in our minds is now replaced with a new concept—drive-ins.

Citizens Bank Park over the course of the next few weeks has put together a line-up of drive-in concert experiences featuring an assortment of artists, including UK rock sensation, The Struts. The band, led by frontman Luke Spiller is known for their larger than life performances, sparked by their innate need to inspire generations now to once again follow in the footsteps of rock legends from decades past. Their energy picked up traction right from the beginning, so much so that the four-piece was asked to perform as a supporting act for the Mötley Crüe during their last performances, on top of also performing with other major players such as The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters and The Who.

What The Struts have possibly over other bands in their category is range— vocally, instrumentally and now environmentally being among some of the first to perform in front of a slew of vehicles instead of crowds. To do this does raise some hesitations for Luke Spiller, but the frontman would rather no place to push past and adapt creatively than in Philadelphia.

Spiller sat down with Metro to discuss more on what fans can expect from their show on August 18th, and how lockdown has been for The Struts overall.

Beth Saravo

What was the driving force behind you wanting to come to Philly to perform this drive-in concert?

Well, firstly you know, we obviously want to get back on stage. It’s been the first time probably in five years that we’ve been stationary for more than a month. So, we definitely to some degree have itchy fingers and feet, and on top of that as well, despite it being drive-in shows which I have my own personal reservations about, I’d much prefer to be in front of a crowd of people. But on top of that it’s like well, this has been such a messed up year for everyone, and if we can provide some entertainment and do our jobs—which is to provide escapism and enjoyment—then we’ll take the opportunity.

What are some of the reservations you have about performing for a drive-in concert?

Well, I think, as a front-man—I don’t speak on behalf of the whole band, personally I thrive from the energy given from an audience. The audience to anyone who has been to a Struts show really played a large part in pretty much the entire show and with most of the things that I tend to do. These drive-in shows have definitely like taken me back a step and have had me re-think, okay Luke, how are you going to make this work? How can we provide an entertaining set with these sort of restrictions that are already put in place. It’s going to be a challenge, but I also believe that the best performers in any realm of the performing arts really sort of show their true colors and their talents when given difficult situations. The best people adapt, so we can adapt our very best.

You’ve performed in Philadelphia before, are you excited to be coming back for this experience here?

Oh, yeah, I’ve always got time for Philly. Philly has been one of our strongest supporters in terms of like an area in the states. Really since the launch of our debut album, ‘Everybody Wants’ five years ago and some of the best shows that we’ve had have been in Philadelphia. It’s always great coming back, we have some great friends there and like I said, great memories, great shows and hopefully this one will be no exception.

Was that part of the draw? Since you do have reservations about the drive-in, was having the show in Philly a plus for you?

Definitely. The fact that it’s Philly made the decision an easier one for sure. For me, personally, it’s like well if we’re going to do this and we’re going to have to re-think everything, then I’d rather it be Philly.

What is the setlist going to be like for this specific performance?

It’s definitely going to be different. It’s going to be accompanied with hopefully a couple of extra musicians, which is going to be really fun. I can also confirm that we will be playing brand new material that has never been played anywhere else in the world, which we will be premiering at these shows. We’re really excited.

Was this new music created during quarantine, or was it already in the works?

Funny enough, you’re the first person I told this to, but I can confirm that the material was written and recorded during the lockdown, and yes, the new stuff that we will be playing is from those sessions, so it’s all really exciting.

Do you feel like this time for you has been creatively stimulating?

Personally, for me, this lockdown experience has been incredibly prolific. It’s been a real, amazing time for me to not sit back, but step back and put things in perspective. Carve out a brand new vision, write every single day and sort of like enjoy some of the simple things in life that we haven’t been able to do. I obviously know that this time is an extremely difficult one for a lot of people, and we are extremely lucky to be in the position that we are in. Has it been hard? Yes, it has been at times. I think knowing that we can’t go home for instance to the UK and visit our loved ones and families has been difficult knowing that it can’t happen. But, I think sometimes when you’re backed into a corner, creatively it can really force out amazing things, and we’ve definitely done that during this time.

With your whole career, are there any accolades that stand out for you personally?

I would definitely say working with the Foo Fighters was a fantastic experience. Getting to sing ‘Under Pressure’ with Taylor Hawkins singing and Dave Grohl on drums was an incredible experience that I’m never going to be able to forget. And that happened almost every night on that tour, which was kind of on and off for an entire year. Even after tour, we ended up doing a festival together in Paris, and the Foo Fighters were headlining. We were on about 2 o clock in the afternoon on that same stage, and Taylor said, are we doing ‘Under Pressure’ tonight? And I was like f*ck yeah, of course. So, that was great and really special [to do] in front of all those different bands. For them to give me the chance to showcase like that was a real genuine gesture. Also, getting up with The Killers and Brandon Flowers singing ‘Johnny B Goode’ was also a fantastic experience and of course, The Rolling Stones—I mean it’s The Rolling Stones and they’re brilliant. Not only was the show we did in Paris [with them] our first real support slot, but it was also the show that really changed the direction of our career. It generated enough heat where we got interest from America and new management in America, which ultimately changed our lives.

Overall what do you hope audiences take away from the show on August 18th?

I hope ultimately that what happens is what I always hope, that people leave with a big smile on their faces.I hope that they leave filled with joy and it helps them get through another week of these very strange days. If we can provide some sort of relief, that’s our job, so I hope that we can do our job right. I hope that they come away with it happier than they walked in.

Catch The Struts at Citizens Bank Park August 18th at 8 pm

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