British glam rockers The Struts released their stunning new single ‘Strange Days’ on September 2, featuring the incomparable pop legend Robbie Williams. It received its world exclusive first play on BBC Radio 2 and is the title track from the band’s upcoming third album, out next month. You can pre-order the album here.
A magnificent, sprawling and string-laced duet, it’s a tender-hearted epic that offers incredible solace in the most chaotic of times. The song came about – along with the rest of the ten-track album – as a result of the band’s enforced lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic but started out as an idea lead singer Luke Spiller originally had on a tour bus last summer. It then took on a life of its own as a result of a chance encounter online.
“I was doing Quarantine Radio and Robbie hit me up out of the blue asking if we could talk,” explains Spiller, referring to the Instagram Live show launched by The Struts in the early days of lockdown. “We ended up Face-Timing for about two hours the first time we’d ever spoken, talking about life and music and UFOs and everything else you can think of. I asked if he’d like to work together at some point, and while we were making the album he graciously let us come over and record him singing on his front porch.”
Robbie Williams notes,
“We did a vocal for a wonderful song that has been gifted my way. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to listen to this man sing. It’s great to be a fan of someone and then a part of this recording. It’s like having a hero here and I genuinely mean that.”
The Struts and Robbie Williams performed ‘Strange Days’ on Soccer Aid for UNICEF live on ITV last night, September 6, and took place at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground. Soccer Aid for UNICEF started in 2006 and is the world’s biggest charity football match and has raised over £38million for UNICEF, with 2019’s event raising a record breaking £7.9million.
The new single follows last week’s surprise release of the track ‘Another Hit of Showmanship’, which features Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes and centres on another poignant vocal performance from Spiller, who deftly channels the tension between giving in to temptation and rising above your demons.
After laying down the initial version of the track, Spiller reached out to Hammond, for whom the band opened on a series of 2018 solo shows.
“‘Another Hit of Showmanship’ reminds me of being at a club night called Ramshackle years ago at the O2 Academy in Bristol, where they’d play bands like The Libertines and Razorlight and Scissor Sisters, and of course The Strokes,” says Spiller. “I hit up Albert out of the blue and told him, ‘We’ve got this song, and I’m so excited to see what you would do with it.’ As soon as he got his hands on it, he took it to a whole different level—it really just shows why he’s so brilliant at what he does.”
And these two tracks are just some of the spectacular delights on offer on the Strange Days album. In an organic turn of events for a band massively embraced by some of rock-and-roll history’s greatest icons—a feat that’s included opening for The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Guns N’ Roses—Strange Days finds The Struts joining forces with not only Robbie Williams and Albert Hammond Jr, but also Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen on the hip-shaking stomper ‘I Hate How Much I Want You’.
And on the band’s heaviest track to date, the fierce and filthy anthem ‘Wild Child’, the four-piece of Spiller, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies, are super-charged by the blistering guitar work of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello.
Elsewhere the explosive ‘All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go)’ unfolds in snarling power chords and exquisitely cheeky lyrics while the beautifully weary ‘Burn It Down’, finds The Struts slipping into a bittersweet mood, serving up a slow-burning ballad that sounds straight from the sessions for ‘Exile on Main St’. The sole cover song on ‘Strange Days’, ‘Do You Love Me’ sees The Struts updating a fantastically sleazy track first recorded by KISS in 1976.
The ‘Strange Days’ album came to life over the course of a charmed and frenzied burst of creativity this spring. After getting tested for COVID-19, the band all moved into the Los Angeles home of Jon Levine, a producer who worked extensively on their acclaimed second album YOUNG & DANGEROUS. Within just ten days of couch-crashing at Levine’s house, The Struts had laid down nine original tracks alongside their masterful cover of the KISS B-side: a lean, mean body of work that amounts to their most glorious output to date.
“It was so much fun to make a record this way instead of getting everything done in between touring, working with multiple producers in multiple countries,” says Spiller. “We were all just burning to capture that excitement as much as we possibly could, and at times it felt like the songs were literally just falling from the sky. It was undoubtedly a magical ten days for us—and I hope when people hear the album, it gives them a taste of that magic too.”
Mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer (Panic! At the Disco, Arctic Monkeys, Johnny Marr), the result is a powerhouse album that lifts The Struts’ glammed-up breed of modern rock to entirely new and wildly thrilling heights.