By: Mark Triana
Hello, this is Andrew Volpe from the rock band Ludo. We’re from St. Louis and so is Chuck Berry. BLAM! Ludo was invented in my brain sophomore year of college, when I finally accepted that all I wanted to do in life was rock. Despite inherent pressures to do something more “adult,” I grabbed my bassist-friend Dave by the face and we resolved to attack rock with all the fury of a mountain-sized hellcat.
Shortly thereafter, we intercepted “Tim Ferrell”: an aspirator with a predilection for shredding. We joined forces, came up with the name Ludo, and started writing as much as we could whilst finishing college in different states. Amidst the strain of these lean years, Dave eventually succumbed to the charms of a succubus and perished… and then there were two. We were Ludo: the acoustic duo.
Tim graduated (I otherwise unmatriculated), and we moved 400 miles away from St. Louis into a $300/month house in downtown Tulsa, where we knew nobody, had no income and could rock with no distractions. And by “rock,” I mean “hover over my space heater in isolation and sadness.” Regardless, we had one rule: play a show every night. No matter what. Whatever we could sneak, beg, or claw our way onto. These consisted of open mics to mostly no one, college shows to hopefully someone, and the rare club shows to really anyone.
Enter Tim Convy. He had known Tim Ferrell from previous bands in high school and was just hanging out in Columbia, Missouri, waiting for an unproven rock group to ask him to drop everything, join them, and play an instrument he’d never even seen. So we hooked him up. We gave him a moog, told him to figure out how to play it, and had he come out on our acoustic “tour” with us.
Armed with a sloppy 3-song demo, we hit the road in my Camry, completely misusing the overdraft protection on my empty checking account to pay for gas and food. We traveled from Texas to New York to Florida, sometimes playing several open mics in a night, and promising everyone we’d be back in a few months, touring with our full band (that didn’t exist) and selling our full-length record (that hadn’t been recorded). Ha. Stupid!
Re-nestled in our Tulsa hideyhole in the summer of 2003, it was time to put our money where our mouths had been – and our mouths had been all over. We mounted the internet with an ad titled, “Drummer/Bassist Needed to Help Take Over World.” The finer points: drop out of school, quit your job, dump your girlfriend, and move in with a band.
Apparently that sounded appealing. Bassist Marshall Fanciullo left Omaha, drummer Matt Palermo left Houston, and they both moved down to Tulsa into our smarmy abode. Five dudes. Nine-hundred square feet. Craptastic. Three weeks (some practicing, and a lot of kickball) after having met each other, we entered the studio to record Ludo’s debut album. We cranked it out in roughly 14 days and hit the road.
Our first full band show was on August 8, 2003 at a bar in Indianapolis. It was bad. And I mean, wow. One in the morning, the sound was awful, the drum set was sliding across the floor, the crowd was drunk/wanting to fight us, and we played like grizzly bears. No one could say we weren’t earning it. Or I guess they could, but that would make them a douche.
A few hundred shows later, we had tricked a bunch of people into liking us. Buttressed by this unjustified success, we released an EP called “Broken Bride” in August of 2005: your run-of-the-mill, time-travel odyssey spanning from the Dawn of Time to the Apocalypse. Pterodactyls, zombies, the extermination of mankind… a love story. It seemed to give us quote-unquote “street cred.” And by street cred, I mean it made it harder for people who hate things (dudes in chatrooms, college music columnists, assholes) to hate us too. Our dreams were realized.
But we were exhausted. Between passing out flyers, mailing t-shirts, arranging interviews, booking tours, e-mailing venues, myspacing fans, fixing equipment, calling promoters, maintaining the van, preparing tax returns, designing merch, updating the website, and anything else you could imagine a band not doing, we hardly even had energy to play shows anymore. We needed help; but there was nary a label lord in sight nor a Ludo-whisper on the lips of an industry underling.
This was a great injustice (overstatement).
So we started playing awkward showcases and going out to ridiculously expensive dinners with important-looking people. And I guess we worked on writing the album too. When we weren’t eating like magistrates of course.
When the surf-and-turfs had settled, Ludo was thrilled to sign with Island Records in October 2006. We celebrated by high-fiving and hitting the studio at the beginning of 2007 with producer Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, Faith No More, a real winner) to record our major-label debut. Matt quickly settled any disagreements by pointing at his platinum records on the wall and saying, “Recognize.”
Eight weeks in Los Angeles was all Ludo needed to gestate their healthiest, most-ten-toed musicbaby yet. The genius was just sloughing off our brains. Man, why weren’t we doing this “signed” thing all along? we rhetorically asked our bio. No response.
Ludo’s new album “You’re Awful, I Love You” came out better than any of us could have hoped for. As a record, it combines the pop sensibilities of our first album with the darkness and adventurous storytelling of Broken Bride, and takes the combination thereof far beyond the scope of either, into a veritable uber-world of extremo-rock, where time is naught and babies burp themselves. When people hear this album for the first time, they will most likely be so moved that they defecate out a perfect, sentient, life-size clone of themselves, feel compelled to murder it, hide the body, and then never speak of it again. So watch out.
Back out on the road after such a distastefully long hiatus, Ludo is kicking ass (not literally) and taking e-mail addresses (literally), delivering the same face-melting, sing-along, power-explosion rock show for which we’d become mildly recognizable in certain small demographic pockets of the middle third of the United States. And as we re-embark on this mission, we rededicate ourselves to our motto, vowing to continue to “entertain people without making them dumber.” Except this time, we’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Check out more great interviews here!
Andrew Volpe- Vocals, guitar.
Tim Ferrell-Guitar, vocals.
Tim Convy-Moog, keys, vocals.
Matt Palermo- Drums, vocals.