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Lucius brings '80s-styled synths and harmonized vocals to ACM@UCO Performance Lab

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Holly Laessig did dress up on Halloween, but she doesn’t restrict herself to wearing brightly colored ensembles just one day of the year.

Laessig and Jess Wolfe are each one half of the harmonizing vocal duo in Lucius, an indie rock quintet originally based in Brooklyn. Laessig spoke with Oklahoma Gazette over the phone Halloween morning in advance of the band’s Friday show at ACM@UCO Performance Lab, 329 E. Sheridan Ave.

Laessig and Wolfe are costumed — as each other — almost every day. The two appear as almost mirror images on stage, usually in identical, flamboyantly styled clothing. They are sometimes mistaken as sisters.

Halloween was, and to an extent remains, an important holiday to Laessig.

“It does kind of feel like Halloween every day for us,” she said.

The two met as students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. They were friends of friends at first. One night over drinks, they bonded while discussing musical influences. They soon launched a plan to perform a cover show together around The Beatles’ White Album.

“I think Jess was very gung-ho about it, like, ‘This is going to happen. Let’s meet tomorrow morning,’” Laessig said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be hungover, but OK, sure.’”

The cover show didn’t happen, but the two began regularly writing and recording together and eventually formed a band.

Performance art

Laessig said the two have always worn complementary clothing while performing. Their matching style developed in part as homage to a time in music when presentation was at a premium.

“I was always a huge David Bowie fan, and both of us love old-school soul music like The Supremes,” she said. “That’s what you ooh and ahh over in the rock ’n’ roll scene.”

In the same way a choir in matching robes is heard by an audience as one sound, Laessig said she wants to be heard as one when she and Wolfe perform. Their simultaneous vocal style developed early and naturally.

Laessig said she remembers hearing double-tracked vocals as a stylistic choice on some albums. When she saw the same artist live, it didn’t sound the same. The Lucius vocalists developed their harmonizing style in part to bring that effect to their live show.

It took some practice, but soon, Laessig and Wolfe sang in perfect unity.

“For me, I always sang along with the radio, and I’m sure [Wolfe] was the same,” Laessig said. “I would always make an effort to blend in with the recordings. In the car, I would try to find my place, so I was used to blending.”

Lucius released Good Grief, its second studio album, in March. It’s a moody yet kinetic collection laden with ’80s-style synths. Rolling Stone magazine praised the project and called it “a clear departure” from the band’s sunshiny 2013 debut Wildewoman.

Laessig said while many have commented that Good Grief seems to be worlds away from their debut record, the end result did not surprise either women because they knew this sound, which she said more closely resembles their live show, was always in them.

Plans for a follow-up album are in the works. Lucius released the single “Pulling Teeth” in September, and a 10-inch release is scheduled for Nov. 25. Where the band’s sound goes from here is still being determined.

“Wherever we go from here will be somewhere interesting,” Laessig said. “I can’t tell you where yet ... but it’s going to be whatever we write and whatever serves that song the best.”

The sound might be fluid, but fans shouldn’t expect the band’s stage style to change anytime soon.

“When the sound and everything is just right and you can let all the logistics fade, it’s just the best feeling in the world,” she said. “You’re this unstoppable person you’d never recognize in your daily life but it’s fun to be for two hours.”

Print headline: Perfected pairing, Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe sing as one in indie rock band Lucius.

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