“I wrote a protest song about you/Set off on a long march without you,” goes the lyrics from the electrifying “Burning Up,” the new single from Ladytron’s fourth record, “Velocifero.” It’s Ladytron’s scathing lyrics that make the group so incendiary. Based in the UK, the quartet, comprised of females Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo and guys Reuben Wu and Daniel Hunt, formed in 1999. The band released its first record in 2001, the electronic “604,” featuring the catchy dance track “Playgirl,” but it wasn’t until 2005’s “Witching Hour” that it began to gain international notoriety with the propulsive track “Destroy Everything You Touch.” Ladytron has been constantly touring the world, even performing to sold-out crowds in China and Columbia.
“We never started out being a touring band,” Wu says. “We always just wanted to play an occasional gig and be fun and have it be a part-time thing because we had jobs at the time as well. But now we’ve gotten into this thinking that the only real way to make money is going out and playing shows. We’re at the point where a lot of people really want to see us all over the world.” Wu mentions the other day someone drove 800 miles to see a Ladytron show.
What separates Ladytron from most bands is the unique collaboration between the band’s members. “We don’t have a traditional band setup,” Wu comments. “It’s not like someone has a song and the drummer comes in and plays the drums. It’s not like that at all. We all write the songs ourselves and all program ourselves. We have a song that might be written in isolation, it could just be a melody, it could be a panel of drums, a lyric, and it works up from there.” Another distinction is the female vocalists: Aroyo sings in Bulgarian on “Black Cat” and “Kletva” while Marnie’s vocals turn towards dulcet harmonies. With “Velocifero,” Ladytron wanted to develop its electronic-rock sound and improve the production.
“With ‘Witching Hour,’ we wanted us to sound how we sounded live at the time,” Wu says. “At the time, there was a lot more energy and power going on stage. The first two albums had a delicacy to them. They didn’t sound very live.” The new record is the band’s best one to date with a high-octave rock sensibility mixed in with electronic beats. From design student to rock star, Wu never thought he could make a living at music, but Ladytron continues to expand worldwide. He and Hunt manage two clubs in Liverpool called Evol and Korova and someday would like to play in Africa and Mongolia. The way things are going for the band, they’ll probably have the chance. “I’m a lot happier doing this,” Wu says. “It’s a better way of life. I’m seeing more things in world than most human beings.” (Garin Pirnia)
Ladytron performs with special guest Datarock at the Vic Theatre, 3145 North Sheffield, (773)472-0449, June 17, 7:30pm. $24.