Taking their name from Rogue Trader, the 1998 psychological drama featuring Ewan McGregor, the electro-rock group Rogue Traders was formed in the early 2000s by longtime friends and collaborators James Ash and Steve Davis. The musicians had first met in 1989 while DJing in London, and they achieved their biggest successes under the dance moniker Union State. Upon the group's relocation to Melbourne in 1992, Union State scored two international hits with "Out to Get You" and "Retrosexual." A decade later, however, Ash and Davis' decided to reinvent their sound.
Their dance-tastic new project made its debut in 2003 with We Know What You're Up To, and the leadoff single "Need You to Show Me" peaked at number 16 on Australia's Top 40 Club Chart. A second single, "Give In to Me," wasn't nearly as successful, but Rogue Traders earned their biggest props with their cover remix of INXS' "Need You Tonight." Retitled "One of My Kind," the song charted at number ten in Australia and became a club hit across the U.K. Ash and Davis also went on to win an ARIA Award for Best Dance Single for "One of My Kind" before 2003 came to a close.
Aussie soap starlet Natalie Bassingthwaighte joined Rogue Traders' ranks in 2005. Best known for her portrayal of Isabelle "Izzy" Hoyland on the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours -- the same drama that brought fame to actress-turned-singers Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia -- Bassingthwaighte had met Ash and Davis in winter 2004 when she auditioned for the group. Her foxy, vampy performance was more than enough to make her frontwoman. Around this time, Davis went behind the scenes to focus on Rogue Traders' songwriting. Tim Henwood (guitar) and Cameron McGlinchey (drums) climbed on board, completing the band's touring lineup with Bassingthwaighte on vocals and Ash on keyboards.
The new group returned with a sophomore effort entitled Here Come the Drums in 2005, and first single "Voodoo Child" became an international club smash. Combining a rhythmic attack and Bassingthwaighte's sultry vocals with samples from Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," "Voodoo Child" earned a number four spot on the Australian singles chart. Rogue Traders also earned three ARIA nominations for the song: Best Dance Release, Best Video, and Engineer of the Year. By December, Here Come the Drums had gone platinum in Australia and earned the Rogue Traders an opening slot on Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway Tour. Here Come the Drums found its way to the U.K. in July 2006. Two years later, however, Bassingthwaighte left the group to pursue a solo career, followed one month later by the departure of McGlinchey. ~ MacKenzie Wilson