Rock ‘n’ roll bands come with a certain image.
The long-running stereotype of band members—promulgated by, among others, the late, great Lou Reed—is of a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle: living life to the maximum in concert, backstage and everywhere in between.
Modern rock bands, though, are emerging into a different landscape, with different pressures and a wide variety of distractions.
There’s Twitter, for starters. There’s the PS3, for seconds.
Who knows what Reed would have made of The Struts, for example, if he bumped into them between concerts?
Maybe he’d join them for a game of FIFA. But then again, he’d have to be prepared for the pressure of what is a high-stakes game.
“We play FIFA for teas,” guitarist Adam Slack told Bleacher Report on a recent visit to B/R's UK headquarters. “Whoever loses has to make the teas.”
It is suggested to the group that such an arrangement is not particularly, well, rock ‘n’ roll.
“Well we do it for other stuff too,” Adam quickly adds, “but we don’t really want that put in the interview!”
That's what they claim. Some things are just "too much" for publication. But it sounds an awful lot like the tensions run highest when it is the brews that are on the line.
“You get really annoyed,” lead singer Luke Spiller, who moved to Derby to start work on the band with Adam back four years ago, says. “There’s nothing worse than losing, when the match ends and someone starts making the noise of a kettle whistling.
“Adz will be like ‘Ah…two sugars, please.’ That’s how it gets heated. Always with the mind games!”
That’s why Luke will generally decline to play with any team other than Manchester City, the club he decided to start supporting on a whim after seeing Emmanuel Adebayor antagonise the Arsenal fans with that celebration at the Etihad Stadium in 2009.
“It was that moment,” he recalls. “I was like ‘Yep, that’s the team for me.’ Call me a glory supporter but right then they had only just had the money injected. They were on the up but no one knew where it was going to go.”
That’s probably a story Jed Elliott, the band’s bass guitarist, does not particularly like to hear. He was converted to the Arsenal cause as a young boy when his mother picked up a Gunners home shirt for 50p at a car boot sale (nowadays, that would make him one of the club’s more expensive signings).
Adam, meanwhile, supports Aston Villa and got Luke into the sport when the Bristol man uprooted his life to Derby. Such was his faith that the duo—and later, quartet—had what it took to make a musical impact. He finds fairer FIFA competition in the band’s fourth member, drummer Geth Davies, who cannot quite believe how far Swansea City have come in recent times.
“I used to have a mate at school who had a box at Swansea,” Geth notes. “I wish I’d kept in better touch with him now.”
Four band members with four different allegiances sounds like a recipe for infighting, jealously and resentment—something that rock bands are hardly famous for avoiding, even without an extremely popular football video game thrown into the mix.
But they all insist that it is a useful distraction as they prepare to launch their first album.
“It’s nice we can connect on a different level,” Jed says. “Obviously we’re playing music together a lot of the time, so it’s good to have other interests.
“We’ve got different teams, so whenever we play each other we can make an occasion of it.”
They might have to put such matters aside for a little while, though, as they look to take their music careers to the next level. Already with a growing fanbase in France—after a contact of a contact got them a prime slot at a festival, a gig they “nailed”—the band hopes its recent single, "Could Have Been Me," helps it build on that interest elsewhere.
“That is the type of band that we are,” Luke states, referring to that breakthrough across the Channel. “If we do get an opportunity, we will seize it.”
On the single, he adds: "We’ve waited so long to get material out there. We’ve got a great video for it, and we thought we’d put it out there because our fans deserve it.
"It’s so different from our last song, so once that is absorbed and sinks in we’ll have a proper push on."
They're good with either an instrument (evidence suggests) or a controller (we'll have to take their word for it) in hand, but what about with boots on their feet?
There are four of them, so which professional player would they draft in to complete their five-a-side lineup?
“I think we’re all in agreement,” Adam responds, looking at his band members with confidence. “It’s Heskey.”
Not so fast—the Newcastle Jets striker got ditched almost as soon as he had been offered the gig. Man City talisman Yaya Toure is considered as a potential inclusion—sorry, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, this is one team you seemingly won’t get into—before they finally hit upon one man they can all agree on.
“A good goalkeeper though, we’d only need to score one goal,” Adam muses, before Jed pipes up: “David Seaman would suit us, with the hair—if he let it down in goal.”
The decision is made.
“Seaman, with his hair down,” Luke confirms. “The 2000 version. He’d complete our look as well.
“That says a lot about our confidence on the pitch, doesn’t it? We’d get one goal from somewhere!”
The Struts' debut single "Could Have Been Me" is released on November 18, 2013.