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Drinking in Andersonville With Love And Radiation

We sat down with Adele Nicholas and Lakshmi Ramgopal, the ladies behind Chicago’s hottest dark synth pop band.

PHOTOGRAPHY: courtesy of the BAND

It was an unusually quiet Friday night at Simon’s Tavern in Andersonville. Under the glow of Christmas lights in a back corner table, I met up with Adele Nicholas and Lakshmi Ramgopal, the twenty-something Northside duo behind Chicago’s dark synth pop band Love and Radiation, whose album You Will Know Me was released this week.

“We need something that won’t give us a headache,” Ramgopal says as she announces their drink order: Two Schlitz’s. It’s been a tiring week of “rebirth” for the band as the two have been planning a spectacle for their Hideout record release show on Thursday, April 11 and hammering out details for their first national tour. Not to mention their professional career load—Nicholas is a civil rights lawyer specializing in cases of police misconduct and brutality; Ramgopal is a doctoral student of Classics at the University of Chicago.

The two first got their feet wet in music when they met as undergrads at Northwestern University and formed the art punk band The Catatonics. “It wasn’t serious songwriting though,” says Nicholas, “we were just a bar band playing at Phyllis’ Musical Inn and Red Line Tap.”

After graduating, the two took a long break before rekindling the fire as their current incarnation. “I had to be convinced,” Ramgopal remembers. The two experimented with various new sounds and what eventually emerged was a blend of punk, power pop and classical Indian music (a result of Ramgopal’s upbringing).

Eclectic songs like “Winter” and “Augury” recall the reverb harmonies of Austra or, more locally, the electric dance jams of Chicago duo Shuteye. “I think more people now are making music that fits better with ours,” Nicholas says referencing like-minded Chicago groups like Videotape and Girl Detective. “We are still a rock city but it seems like people are more open to different types of music, which is great for us.”

Love and Radiation celebrates their record release at the Hideout on Thursday, April 11. Tickets are $7; the show begins at 9:00 p.m.

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