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Jeff Moehlis: The Struts to Strut Into Ventura

The Struts Click to view larger
The Struts will perform at The Majestic Ventura Theater next Sunday. (Anna Lee photo)

Sure, I enjoy seeing "legacy rockers" as much as anyone, and they often put on amazing shows. But do yourself a favor and check out the younger bands who are injecting some much-needed energy into the rock-and-roll enterprise, especially those with raw talent and an appreciation of the rock music that came before them.

In particular, come see The Struts at The Majestic Ventura Theater next Sunday, Nov. 4. Tickets are available by clicking here.

The first Struts album, Everybody Wants, came out in the United Kingdom in 2014, with a glam rock sound that features some of the best rock vocals this side of Freddie Mercury. A highlight of this album was "Could Have Been Me," with a singalong chorus that sums up the band's philosophy of living life to the fullest. This album and the band's energetic live performances earned them the blessing from bands like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue and the Foo Fighters.

The second Struts album came out Friday, and it keeps the magic going with songs like "Body Talks" and "Primadonna Like Me." There's glam, there are anthems, there's even a power ballad. The Struts continue to show us that rock-and-roll is alive and well.

Singer Luke Spiller from The Struts talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: Can you tell us a bit about the new album, Young & Dangerous? How did your approach to this differ from your first album?

Luke Spiller: First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that this album was the best that it could be. The main difference between the debut and this second one is purely down to the amount of time that we kept coming back to the songs, re-recording sections, replaying sections, making sure this was the greatest album that we were going to put out to date. And honestly, I think people will actually hear the blood, sweat and tears in this record. I think we've achieved what we set out to, and some more as well. So I'm super happy with it.

JM: We've already gotten a little bit of a preview of it, since some of the songs are posted on YouTube. How did the collaboration with Kesha for "Body Talks" come about?

LS: It happened very naturally, which is the way I like to do things. It was one of those things where we met through a college show. She was really into the band, and we kept in touch. And then, toward the end of the creative process we came up with "Body Talks," so we thought, "Hey, let's get her on it. Let's see if she wants to do it." And lo and behold, she said yes, and then I ended up flying — on my day off, actually — back to L.A. via the East Coast, and we cut the vocals together. It was a lot of fun, and she's a great talent. It's cool to be part of this journey that she's on. It was an honor.

JM: Another video that's posted already is "Primadonna Like Me." It's cool that you're throwing knives with Alice Cooper in the video. What's the story behind that?

LS: Well, me and my girlfriend had flown out to Maui quite awhile ago on holiday, and we ended up meeting a whole bunch of people like Steven Tyler, and then we bumped into Alice and his manager Shep [Gordon]. Alice was already a fan of the band, which was super cool. So when we were shooting the video in Vegas, we ended up in the same place playing on the same night, actually, and we just went over there and said hello, and asked him, "Hey, would you like to be in this video?" He was like, "Sure, what do you want to do?" I said, "I don't know," and of course he had these throwing knives, and he decided to give me a throwing knife lesson, which was very fun.

JM: So he just happens to travel with throwing knives in case he needs them?

LS: Exactly.

JM: Going back a few years, I'm sure it was a big thing for you to open for The Rolling Stones in Paris. What was that experience like, playing for their fans, and for so many people?

LS: It was huge for us. We'd already been really killing it out there in France during that year leading up to that show. It was kind of like the real turning point in our career, really. It was fantastic. It was an absolute baptism of fire, you know, stepping out in front of 80,000 people. But at the same time, we were that young and cocky that we thought it was something that we could definitely handle, so we went out there full guns blazing. It's a technique that we've adopted ever since.

JM: You've been compared to Mick Jagger, and also to Freddie Mercury. Are you looking forward to the upcoming movie Bohemian Rhapsody about Freddie Mercury?

LS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I was actually approached to do a camera test for the role itself, before Bryan Singer got involved. So I've been keeping close tabs on that movie for over two years now.  I got asked if I'd be interested in playing the part, and then probably about five days before my camera test shot, Bryan Singer came in and took over the job of director, and he brought in Rami [Malek] for the lead role.

But it kind of all worked out in that way, and I'm super glad that it did, because there's so much that happened last year that wouldn't have been able to have been done, like making the second album and everything like that. I was a little bit bummed at the time, but I'm happy also that it didn't happen.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

LS: Just stay true to yourself. Do what you want to do. If that means swimming against the tide, then so be it. You have to stay true to what you believe is right. It's the only way you're going to stay happy.

JM: Here's a silly question. If it doesn't ruin your image, what's the least rock-and-roll thing about you?

LS: The least rock-and-roll thing about me? I'd say everything. I'm not rock-and-roll in the slightest, unfortunately, which surprises a lot of people. You know, people come up to me with bottles of whiskey expecting me to drink it, like when we do radio performances and stuff like that. I don't know. I'm about the music. I've cleaned up quite a lot over the last couple of years. I'm not exactly behaving the way I used to.

JM: Another silly question, since this interview is for a show in California. What's your favorite thing about California?

LS: My favorite thing about California is probably the sunshine. For sure, the sunshine.

Click here for the full interview with Luke Spiller.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his website, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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