Lucius’ Jess Wolfe, left, and Holly Laessig do double duty as backup singers. (Courtesy Piper Ferguson)

Lucius singers make big visual and aural statements

Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, frontwomen of the New York art-pop combo Lucius, dress exactly alike onstage — down to matching wigs and in often exotic outfits. But it’s their sisterly-close harmonies that have won them support of (and work from) legends such as Mavis Staples, David Byrne and Roger Waters, “Getting dolled up is not always your favorite thing to do, because it’s so time-consuming,” says Wolfe. “But we grew up being inspired by artists who had a really strong visual representation of their music.”

You and Holly have been backing Roger Waters a lot, first at a Newport folk festival, and recently at his Desert Trip shows. Are you still stunned?

We were very unsure of how it would go at first, because it was maybe two songs that we were supposed be singing at Newport with him. So we asked him, “Is there anything else that you’d like us to learn? Let us know, we’ll make sure that we’re prepared.” His email response was, “Cool — R.” We showed up at the rehearsal, the day before the performance, and we had taken it upon ourselves to at least be familiar with all the set’s songs, just in case. So we sang the first song “Mother” and after that they were running through a song that we weren’t on, but halfway through the first verse, he looks over at us, everybody stops playing, and he goes, “Man up! You’re singing on every song.” It was a moment where you’d think you’d be scared sh=——-. And part of us was. But it was a sign of approval, of inclusion, and just the greatest feeling.

How was working with Mavis?

She is just joy in human form. She’s so wonderful, and working with her was another true joy. She came and sang on one of our songs, and then we got to sing “Slippery People” with her during her set, and of course sang with her and Jeff Tweedy at Newport, as well. And we ended up being in her documentary “Mavis!,” as well, which was wonderful. It’s all just so unbelievable.

Lucius is out promoting its latest album “Good Grief,” plus the new EP “Pulling Teeth.” Is there a batphone installed at your headquarters for all these extracurricular gigs?

You know, it’s all been very serendipitous and random. None of them are really connected to the other. People have recommended and championed us, and it’s just all because of beautiful friendships and relationships, and being in the right place at the right time. Plus, we just love singing with all these people. It gives us true joy.

IF YOU GO

Lucius
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 17-18
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com

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