It’s a beautiful, sunny February afternoon in Los Angeles, but Luke Spiller is phoning in from the comfort of his bed. Having just missed his flight back from Las Vegas, the lead singer and pianist of Brit rock band The Struts is quite tired, and trying to get some rest before going back on tour. On February 21st, the band head to Brisbane, Australia where they’ll be supporting Slash (featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators) for a few dates before joining Queens of the Stone Age for several weeks in April.
Still, despite his exhaustion, the enigmatic frontman is excited to talk about their new single, “How Can I Love You (Without Breaking Your Heart)” released that same morning.
Just barely not making the cut from their last studio record, 2023’s Pretty Vicious, the track is a timeless, thoughtfully written, achingly sincere love song. “I was afraid—and this was something that the label was also concerned about—that it would be drowned out by the other songs on the album.” Luke explains. “So it’s nice that it gets to have its own moment in the spotlight.”
Read on to find out how his self-proclaimed “psychotic” songwriting style helped evolve The Struts’ sound from feisty, love-lorn glam rock into something he considers both uniquely vulnerable and deeply personal.
SPIN: How has life been since Pretty Vicious dropped last fall?
LUKE SPILLER: It’s been great. It’s a beautiful thing, seeing something like an album right through to the end. And going through the entire process of, you know, you have the writing and then the recording and later on the mixing and everything.
It’s such a huge amount of effort and time, if you really want to do it right, to make it a great listening experience. It’s just been beautiful to see it out there.
It’s actually a pretty quick turnaround for you to have a brand new single out just a few months after an official album release.
They were intended to be on the album, but after listening to my track sequence I had laid out, it was suggested that we take off at least two songs so that the listening experience was a bit more digestible. And also, I really believed in the two tracks.
“How Can I Love You (Without Breaking Your Heart)” is the first one out of the two. So yeah, you’re right, it’s a quick turnaround. But look, I mean, we live in a pretty fast paced world these days, don’t we?
We do. And I think the timing is golden because it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And the track was labeled as “a Valentine’s Day anthem for thoughtful commitment phobes,” which made me laugh.
That’s me. Alright, I guess. Yeah.
You had to labor through writing the lyrics on this one. What made the songwriting on this track more difficult for you than some of your others?
I just knew I had to get it right. So the phrase sort of came to me literally on a date, which is quite psychotic. And I went away and I thought, Oh my God, I literally thought in my head.
How can I love you without breaking your heart?
And then I ran to the bathroom and jotted it down on my phone. That’s how psychotic I am.
Would you say that this song came from that “psychotic” process?
Well, most of my songwriting technique has changed quite a lot in the last three years. [On] the first two albums I didn’t really write a lot from my own life experience, I used to invent a lot of characters. And I don’t know why…maybe I just kind of shied away from myself. I didn’t particularly feel self conscious about exposing certain areas in my life…maybe I just didn’t have the life experience.
But for the last three years, I’ve just really found it so much more rewarding writing about something that is coming straight from my heart rather than [2018’s] “Primadonna Like Me.” Like, “I’m a prima donna get out of my way.” But yeah, there’s moments of that. It’s nice to have moments of that. But I’m finding it much more rich and fruitful to dig deep into my own sort of psyche and my own experience and make songs out of that.
You said there’s another single coming out. Can you share anything about that?
It’s a love song that I wrote about someone who… Oh my god, she was just incredible. Her name’s Kenzie Ann and she just knocked me right off my feet and it was when we were first dating. I remember coming into the studio with these lyrics and I had the title: “Heaven’s Got Nothing On You.”
It’s lovely, but it’s also an extremely horny song as well.