Power-pop rock group Ludo has been keeping busy. After establishing roots in St. Louis, the band went on a touring frenzy and in the process released Broken Bride, a unique five-part rock opera that was later adapted for stage. Written primarily by frontman Andrew Volpe, Broken Bride tells the story of a man who travels back and forth in time to save his wife from an inevitable death.
Though not all as dramatic, Volpe has a knack for story-telling that is apparent in most of his lyrics. Combine this with energetic, upbeat, occasionally sentimental but always pleasing harmonies to create memorable tunes such as “Hum Along” and “Girls on Trampolines.”
Nighttimes.com caught up with Volpe to talk about their new album, You’re Awful, I Love You, and whatever else came up:
NT: Tell us something about You’re Awful, I Love You
AV: I just can’t wait for people to hear it. I don’t know, on one hand we’re just so excited for Ludo fans to hear it ‘cause I think they’ll be completely blown away and totally satisfied, and then at the same time we’re equally excited about new people hearing it because we think it will represent who Ludo is and where we’re at right now. It will be a little while because right now we’re trying to get out there to tour and stuff.
NT: How is the new album going to compare to Ludo’s first self-titled album?
AV: It’s worlds better, personally. It’s just more mature, which doesn’t mean a loss of sense of humor, or a sense of irony, or [losing] an interest in story telling. But it’s certainly more mature. Just tons of fun choruses and big bridges… People who liked the first record will absolutely cherish this record.
NT: I know you’re responsible for a lot of the writing process, how did that go this time around?
AV: It was cool; a few different times we sort of went on little mini retreats to just only focus on writing. We would leave St. Louis ‘cause there’s a lot of distractions in St. Louis, so we would just go to different places like Wisconsin, or Kansas, or Texas where we have relatives or friends and we would stay there for like two weeks and rehearse and generate the music.
NT: What was the inspiration behind the rock opera Broken Bride?
AV: I’d written a song called ‘Broken Bride’ and, [talking to the band, we realized], ‘this story’s not done.’ Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit all the stuff into this story that I wanted to. I sat down to write ‘Save Our City.’ [Still,] I didn’t even tell hardly any of the story, just the part of the apocalypse and there’s so much left to be told, but that song’s done. We all decided, ‘you know what? This should be one story that’s several songs.’ Then someone came up with the idea to just put it all on one record, and there you go. We didn’t really set out to make a rock opera. But once we had the whole album done, we had a little time to think about it. We’re like, ‘man this is totally a rock opera.’
NT: How did you feel about Broken Bride being adapted for the stage?
AV: A lot of different people approached us with different stuff, like some guys tried to do a comic book, and another guy’s trying to do a claymation thing. Any time someone is that inspired by it, that’s just so rewarding for us, we just want to do whatever we can to help them realize their vision of our story. So when Paul Bruton from University of Chicago got in touch with us at a show and told us, we were all about it and trying to help with the music and stuff. When we went and saw it, it was just so crazy to see our story brought to life.
NT: I know that you’ve been in a few bands before Ludo, do you think those experiences have helped you bring to the table what you bring individually to this band?
AV: I think just playing in a group of people and trying to work out, ’you play this part, I play that part, this is what it’s like trying to sing in a room of drunks…’ that’s the kind of thing that you really have to work out. It’s logistically hard and you run into problems that you wouldn’t normally consider. To be able to get through the loudness of a full band practice and actually focus on the music is something that you have to learn over time. Just having the experience with different individuals going in different directions helped me and everyone else in the band.
NT: How would you sum up the other members of the band and yourself in one or two words?
AV: Each member? Uh…Tim Ferrell, vegan. Tim Convy…on the phone. Marshall Fanciullo, uh…graphic art. Matt Palermo…adorable sex. And I would say that I am…a power explosion.
NT: Well, of course. I’ve seen you perform.
AV: Yea, I just made most of that up. That’s not a very good list but you can have it anyway.
NT: What’s the story behind TLVT (That Ludo Video Thing)?
AV: When we were in the studio in January, Tim Convy and his brother came out and filmed basically everything we did while we were recording. He was saying that we should do weekly podcasts and we were all into the idea. We wanted to sort of kick it off with the many weeks leading up to the record coming out, to let fans get an inner glimpse into the crazy stuff that we do on the road and then let new people get a sense of who we are.
NT: What would you say are some of the most memorable fan experiences you’ve had, good or bad?
AV: This one guy proposed to his girlfriend at our show. He called in advance and they got onstage and he got down on his knee and proposed to her; that was pretty crazy. This other woman was listening to Ludo while she gave birth, so like the first thing her kid heard was Ludo, which I think is hilarious. People make shirts, homemade shirts, and wear them to the shows which is always cool to see.
NT: Do you have a preference on venue? More intimate as opposed to a huge crowd?
AV: You know what? They’re both really cool. If it were up to me and we had the ability to do so, we would play an acoustic show in a city and then that night play a full band show in a large venue. It’s about accessibility…we wanna be able to give people as much Ludo as they want, or that they can handle. So it’s great at small intimate stuff ‘cause people can get close and it’s more likely that we can have a one-on-one conversation. But I also like the big ones, and even at the big shows we try very hard to just run out immediately to the crowd and shake everybody’s hand who wants to and hug everyone who doesn’t mind a sweaty hug, take pictures, sign stuff, just talk about whatever. We try to be as accessible as we can ‘cause you know it’s fun talking to people who are into the things that you’ve created. They have opinions on stuff, feelings and stories, and it’s just always cool to get to meet people at the show.
NT: Do you have any plans for Ludo in the future, or are you just taking it one step at a time?
AV: Yea, well obviously we have long term ideas of where we’re gonna be, but how we end up getting there is sort of a crazy path. We’re basically just focusing now on getting back out on the road, ‘cause we haven’t been on the road in forever. [We’ve been] making this album, [but] we’re a touring band. We like to get in front of people.
Check out Ludo during their run on Vans Warped Tour!
8/11 at Park Place in Barry, ON.
8/12 at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, QC.
8/14 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in St. Louis, MO.
8/15 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Kansas City, KS.
8/17 at Idaho Center in Boise, ID.