No matter where The Downtown Struts end up living, they will always consider an Indianapolis gig a homecoming show. The four-piece, currently moored in Chicago, is gearing up for a tour kick-off at Rock Lobster on Thursday.
“We grew up on the Northside of Indy” explained drummer Zach Byrne in a phone interview, “Dan (Cooper) and I started the Struts when we were 16. Still in high school. We sounded way different back then.”
After a few years of playing house parties around Indianapolis, the Cooper and Byrne decided to pack up and try their luck in Chicago. “We wanted to see what we could do in a bigger music scene.” said Byrne. “We also just wanted to get away from where we had grown up.”
While the band looked for new inspiration in a new city, they stumbled upon two Chicagolanders, Ryan Walsh and Ben Hjelmstad, who filled in some of the gaps in the band. And then, just as soon as they had settled in Chicago, it was time to move again.
Next, the band found themselves living in Phoenix, AZ together. “We didn’t really play many shows in Arizona”, Byrne said frankly, “maybe only two house shows in the time that we were there.” While the band might not have been moving any merch or winning over any new fans in Arizona, they were using their experiences traveling from city to city to help refine their songwriting style and develop their sound.
“We spent most of our time in Phoenix just writing” said Byrne. “When we had started out playing in Indianapolis, we played mostly punk rock stuff ‘cause that’s what we were all listening to. But as were moved around and grew as a band we started experiencing different things and meeting new people and listening to different music. We started listening to a lot more straight rock ‘n’ roll and our music started to reflect that.”
After a year in Phoenix, the Struts headed further west to San Francisco where they continued not only writing music but playing it. Their time in San Francisco ultimately yielded a friendship with modern punk princes Dead To Me.
After a few months in SF, the band finally settled back in Chicago. From Chicago they are heading to Indianapolis to launch their summer tour. “We kind of have this reputation in Indianapolis” said Byrne “of appealing to solely the Johnny Thunders kind of punks. I see what that’s all about and I appreciate that those kids come out to our shows and support us so much but we’re not trying to make music for any specific scene or crowd. We don’t really like being stereotyped or pigeonholed like that. Dan and Ben are the main songwriters and their biggest influences are early Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Paul Westerberg. I think those are some fairly diverse influences.”
At the end of the day, however, Byrne doesn’t feel like he needs to explain his band to his critics. “I always love playing Indy and I love seeing all my old friends come out and watch us but I really don’t care about people liking us or not. That’s really out of our control and we are just fine with that.”
The Downtown Struts
w/ The Perennials
Thursday June, 30
@ Rock Lobster
FREE, 21+, 9PM