Ludo | Love, Laughs & 'Literation

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Our plan, as it stands right now, is to tour until the end of time. Or until it's time to record the next record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you've been to one of Ludo's shows, you know how they get you energized and involved and leave you stunned and ready for more. For those of you who haven't yet seen them live, you will be wishing you had. And for those odd few of you who haven't heard of Ludo, you'll be surprised that you hadn't heard the band's name being uttered across town. Whether you're a longtime fan or just looking for a good time, anyone can appreciate an entertaining show, and Ludo is sure to put one on.

The St. Louis-based pop-rock band just released their second full-length album You're Awful, I Love You after signing with Island Records and are currently on a nationwide tour to promote the new album. Ludo was formed in 2003 by lead singer and guitarist Andrew Volpe and guitarist Tim Ferrell, but grew to include Tim Convy on moog, bassist Marshall Fanciullo and drummer Matt Palermo. While Ludo has grow, so has their fan base, as they constantly tour and promote themselves and encourage their dedicated fans to do so, also.

The fans are not the only dedicated ones. Ludo is a one-of-a-kind band that appreciates and gets to know its fans. You may find the members mingling and conversing with the crowd before and after their shows. They are a fun, energetic and hardworking band that will impress you not only with their talented performance but also with their genuine friendliness.

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How/when did you get signed to Island Records?

At SXSW in 2006, we had the good fortune of playing for and meeting some key people at several labels and were able to ultimately get a handful of offers. Of those offers, Island just felt like the best fit. The people there seemed like the right people to team up with; they shared our passion and respected our vision for Ludo. So we signed with them in October 2006 and celebrated by high-fiving.

How has signing with a major label affected the band and your music? Do you feel it restricts your creativity in anyway?

It's only affected us positively. After four years of doing everything on our own, just relying on the five guys in the band, it's been huge for us to add a whole slew of like-minded people to the team, particularly when it comes to the day-to-day minutiae. It's allowed us to focus more on playing shows and writing songs, which is what being in a band should be all about.

In terms of creative control, we'd heard all sorts of horror stories about overbearing labels trying to force bands to change their songs, so we were braced to have to fight all sorts of battles. We were pleasantly surprised, however, when Island not only let us, but encouraged us, to make exactly the record we wanted to make. Our A&R guy stopped by the studio once, for an hour, while we were recording to check out the tracks and he just told us to keep rocking. They've been nothing but supportive.

How did this recording process compare with previous times?

It didn't compare. For our first two releases, we showed up at the studio with a shoestring budget and a narrow window of time and ended up working shifts around the clock for a week or two until the record was finished, just trying to get it all in there. This time we had two weeks of pre-production (had never heard of such a thing before) and then seven weeks of recording. Not only that, we had amazing equipment and space at our disposal. Although we'd worked with a couple very talented St. Louis area producers on the debut album and Broken Bride (Jim Callahan and Jason McEntire, respectively), this time the ship was being steered by a brilliant, accomplished genius of a producer in Matt Wallace. All those things combined, it was like a different world.

How does the new album compare with what you've done in the past? How has your music evolved?

I think our first record was a collection of songs that we all believed in but we kind of just "shat out" after the five of us had only been playing together for three weeks. Broken Bride was an anomaly. We had a song that introduced the story of a man who built a time machine to save his wife, and we wanted to see that story through to completion. By the time we'd finished, we had 28 minutes of music and a rock opera on our hands. In the process of making it, we greatly expanded our sense of who we were as a band and what we could do. Our new album, You're Awful, I Love You, combines the pop, sing-along sensibilities of our first CD with the adventurous and sometimes dark storytelling of Broken Bride, the fusion of which makes for a collection of little music-movies—an album the scope of which goes well beyond either of our first two records.

Do you feel that your fan base has significantly increased with each new release? Has radio play increased as well?

It feels like we reach new people with each record for sure. I know for a fact that a lot of people who were not that into our first record became huge Ludo fans after we released Broken Bride. Others have asked repeatedly in the past few years when we were going to put out an album more like the first one. And of course, we're hoping that this new record gets our music in front of millions and millions of people.

In terms of radio, we've always had a few champions in various spots around the Midwest, either at college stations or at places like The Point or The Buzz in Columbia, who've supported both our first two releases at various levels. But it's only been in the past couple months that we've really seen rock stations in random places across the country start playing "Love Me Dead," and it's pretty damn exciting.

What is your process for writing songs? How do you come up with such quirky lyrics? Who writes the songs?

Either Tim [Ferrell] or I sit down alone with an acoustic guitar and come up with a chord progression, a melody, some lyrics, and basic structure—or maybe just an idea for a song. Then we bring it to the band and we flesh it out as a five-piece, everyone bringing their own thoughts, ideas, and parts to the song. We arrange it together and collaborate to make it whole. The songs are pretty raw before this process, and a lot of the ideas either Tim or I have for the way it should be realized end up changing or getting abandoned altogether once the five of us are rocking.

I'm not exactly sure how to answer how we come up with our quirky lyrics. It often feels more like the tone of everyday conversation to me than the "I feel so bad inside" kind of lines that you hear sometimes in songs. I don't think lyrics have to be vague. I don't think they have to be lists of explicit feelings. You can tell a story, or present something from a particular character's perspective. There a lot of weird perspectives out there. I'll admit, though, that I am guilty in large part of using alliteration, imagery, and metaphor.

What are your plans once the new album is released and you finish this tour?

Our plan, as it stands right now, is to tour until the end of time. Or until it's time to record the next record.

Has St. Louis been a good place for you guys to start out? What difficulties have you had? What has been smooth-sailing?

St. Louis has always been great to us. We kind of started out forcing ourselves to tour from the beginning, so we had several other "hometowns" in the Midwest where we started with nothing, but St. Louis was obviously our actual hometown. We've had all sorts of difficulties, but we've never had a problem with fans. Every show we promoted at, every show we played, everything we did to get our band and our music to more people in St. Louis brought more fans to us. And they just seem to get more and more fervent. They make being from St. Louis all smooth-sailing.

It seems like you guys are constantly touring and getting your name out there. Do you think that all your work and promotion to get people interested and gain listeners is paying off (as much as you'd liked)?

Absolutely. The strange thing about promotion though is that it doesn't pay off right away. We're constantly hearing from people who are seeing us for the first time, who say they got our CD outside a show ten months earlier, became a fan, and are just now coming out to see us. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are only now just seeing our "Love Me Dead" video on YouTube or hearing our new record is out, who we won't see at a show or hear from on MySpace for a long time. As far as we're concerned, if we're out there, we're getting in front of someone and giving them the chance to hear our music and decide for themselves.

What do you enjoy doing the most (recording, touring, writing songs, etc.) and why?

I'd say we all love touring the most. The live show is sacred to Ludo. It's the most visceral, living incarnation of what we do, and being able to share it with our fans right there in the moment is an irreplaceable experience. | Alex Bates

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