The Struts' Luke Spiller on His Fabulous Glam Style: 'I'm Practically a Cross-Dresser'

Lyndsey Parker
·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music

Sitting on his tour bus at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience before his band plays a 2 p.m. set, Luke Spiller, flamboyant frontman for fabulous rock ‘n’ roll Brit brigade the Struts, hardly looks properly outfitted for the sweltering New Orleans heat. He’s sporting a full face of meticulously applied Nagel-painting makeup, non-breathable leather trousers, and, most amazingly, a shaggy emerald-green tunic that looks like it was fashioned from the silky pelts of Oscar the Grouch puppets – or maybe from mermaid hair. But Spiller, one of the most exciting and electric performers in rock today, just shrugs. “If I if don’t sweat perpetually, then I haven’t done my job,” he asserts. “I always aim to excessively sweat at every show.”

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(photo: Getty Images)

One would expect no less from a dandy Englishman who once commissioned famed Freddie Mercury/Marc Bolan designer Zandra Rhodes to create his sparkly stage outfits and whose band made their U.S. concert debut during New York Fashion Week. Speaking about his androgynously over-the-top, dress-to-excess style, he says: “I’ve got a taste I can’t really define. I know I’m really influenced by ’70s glam rock – the British movement that happened with Bowie and Marc Bolan, etc. I just like what I like. I’m practically a cross-dresser. I don’t really wear any men’s clothing – apart from my underpants, as you say in the States.”

And it seems Struts fans – who are currently flocking to the group’s thrilling concerts to hear the top five alternative rock radio anthem “Could Have Been Me” and fist-pumping, rump-wiggling tracks off the band’s full-length debut Everybody Wants are getting inspired by Spiller’s style, and they’re upping their fashion game from the usual gig-going uniform of T-shirts and jeans. “Now throughout all the front row, all these girls come in with, like, lovely glitter all over their faces. That’s really cool,” Spillers grins. “People are definitely dressing for the occasion.”

In an era when few new rock bands from either side of the pond are enjoying any sort of radio play, it’s heartening to witness a band like the Struts getting this sort of mainstream attention – especially when it’s attention from kids who are way too young to easily recognize or appreciate the group’s retro-’70s influences. “Every time we play, I’m always eyeing up the crowd, and it spans from 14-year-olds all the way up to 40-plus. And that says something,” says Spiller. “A lot of the older generation comes because it’s got reminiscence, and then you’ve got younger people,whose minds are blown because amongst this music like Ed Sheeran and 1D and whatnot, you’ve got this music which is completely different.

“What I’d like to think what the Struts are doing is what bands when I was, like, 15 or 16 were doing to me. I discovered, at that age, bands like Queen and Led Zeppelin, and for me it was all amazing and brand-new, despite how old the music was… I kind of hope we would be a bit of fresh air to our audience. That would be an achievement.”

However, not everyone wasalways so accepting of Spiller, who grew up in Bristol, England, in a strictChristian household where secular music was largely off-limits. “Yeah, I’ve had it all my life,” hereflects, referring to the flak he’d catch when he’d hit the streets in one ofhis wild get-ups. “But you know, I really don’t give a f—. Whateverphase it is I’ve gone through, I’ve gone through that phase very heavily. I wasalways dressing different, and I was always a bit outspoken and a bit out-of-touchwith what was going on currently.”

Spiller and his fellow Struts(guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies) weren’t always accepted in the record business, either, as they were shuffled from GaryBarlow’s (yes, the Take That/X Factor guy’s) label, Future Records, to Virgin and now Interscope/Polydor. SaysSpiller: “It’s always harder to be different. It’s so much easier [for record labels] to float along with the era of trend and just go along with all the other sheep. You’ve got to have a big pair of bollocks to promote what we do, for sure.”

But the Struts kept doing things their way, and now with their future looking as bright as Spiller’s shiny stagewear and lipgloss, the singer has some sage advice for his young, impressionable fans who also dare to be different and strut their stuff. “Literally just don’t care [if some people don’t accept you], because those people who are doing the bullying and pointing the finger, those people will turn out to be the most insecure people that you’ve ever met. No one’s going to remember them. Everyone will always remember you.”

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