Words and photos by JENZ
Before Ladytron take the stage in their glam outfits and backed by pulsing electronica, their calculated keys producing some of the most recognizable dance tracks around, I climb aboard their tour bus parked around the corner from the venue to stare directly at a KFC. Very chic.
Member Daniel Hunt is making coffee as band mate Mira Arroyo tinkers on her laptop when I sit down. Ladytron and The Faint are playing for two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco and are swapping headlining duties. Playing at the Fillmore, says Hunt, is surreal because “it’s where we started” as a band.
The UK outfit, which also includes Reuben Wu and Helen Marnie, has been busy since releasing Velocifero last year. In between remixing, DJ appearances, and touring, the band is also producing new tracks for singer Christina Aguilera, which Hunt apologizes he can’t offer to us for a sneak peak. “As soon as you’re gone, I’m actually gonna blast it.” Ladytron are also embarking on a mini-Australian tour which include two nights at the Sydney Opera House as a part of a festival curated by none other than Brian Eno, who asked the band personally to tag along.
During the live show I observe that songs with a more synth like “Ghosts” and “Seventeen” pack a better punch; this night is the one Ladytron are headlining at, and a lot of people in the audience seem half-enthused and half-out of their mind from what I can see from the balcony. I’m glad to also witness that most of the electronic shows I’ve seen in the past few months have had a killer light show to accompany the dance soundtrack. Note to self: think about maybe getting high next time.
At the after show hosted by Popscene, Wu and Hunt take to the DJ decks to blast some crazy techno-type beats. Before the night is over, a woman badgers them about how she got gypped out of seeing Ladytron perform live. “The flyer lied to me! I want my money back! She didn’t perform!” Confused, the two gently try to explain that they were only there to spin and not play, to which the woman replies “How can you be in the band?” She thought Ladytron was a solo act. Hunt’s amusement is beyond containment.
I was told you have the juicy info on everyone in the band. Is this true?
Juicy info, really? [laughs' Maybe just in regards to what we’re doing. We’re finishing the tour in the U.K., then flying to Moscow to play dates with Depeche Mode. And, we’re doing an opera with Brian Eno in Sydney, tailor set to creation and surroundings.
Are you in Brian Eno’s iPod? How did that solidify?
His daughter was actually at our Oxford show, and said her dad was into us. Which is amazing, he was hugely influential to not only us but many others -- just try to document it. The opera is not really every day sort of thing we get to do.
You guys are like the UN of electro groups; you’re in Milan, Reuben’s in Liverpool, and Helen and Mira live in London. Is it hard for things like band practice with you being the furthest?
Living in different places is actually quite good. You spend all this time on the road, so it’s nice to split for a little while. In Europe it’s so cheap to get around. From London to Italy is as easy and cheap sometimes from Liverpool. Milan is also underrated in its reputation, I think. Santo looks like an artsy Paris, and Italians don’t like it very much. But the infrastructure and jobs in architecture, I quite like it. It’s an hour away from the coast.
For making music for people to dance to, it seems your stage presence is really quite calm.
We get asked about that a lot, and that is also said about us a lot too. Truthfully it’s like day and night [when you look at the way we first performed and to now]. I mean, do you want us to strap on a synth and punch the air? The whole idea of “stage craft” is bullshit, like someone gave you a manual and things to say in between songs and how to act on stage. I find it to be really false. When I watch bands, I just watch them play, not how much they jump around. We just didn’t buy into the idea and I’ve always found that a bit funny.
What does it mean to go on a DJ tour, anyway?
Put on your iPod and play some shit. (laughs) It’s normal from band members to do that, but “DJ tour” I admit is a weird wording. It’s more like DJ gigs. When we started going out on our own to DJ it was quite uncommon, because most bands were just doing live shows all the while. It’s a good way to try out new material that you don’t do on the road, or when you’re in between albums and need to kill time. But sometimes that goes against us or people do weird shit. Once someone asked me “Can you play some Ladytron?” and I said, “This is Ladytron, it’s our new single.” The response there was “Oh, okay. But can you play some Ladytron we know?”