This was a phone interview conduct with Andrew Volpe (Vocals/Guitar) by Brad Streeter.
You guys decided to go with Matt Wallace as a producer for You're Awful, I love You "your latest album. This guy has some pretty big albums under his belt like Faith No More’s “Angel Dust" to Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane”. What brought Ludo to work with him?
Well, actually we just had the label tell us to start generating names. We came up with a few different people. We both worked out our own lists of albums we loved, and the producers who did them. We then came together and compared notes. We looked at some of the people they had, and we said no to a lot of their names. They looked at our lists and they said no to a bunch of ours, and said things like, “No this guys is Crazy or this guys is hard to work with.” Actually Matt Wallace wasn’t someone we had thought of, but when they suggested him we were really interested.
He was one of the few guys who we met. He came out to a show, and he just seemed to get us right off the bat. After listening to our demos and our previous records, and then seeing us live he kind of articulated what he thought about how to make this record, or our record. We obviously felt good about what he had done in the past. So it worked out perfectly.
I am from the Midwest as well, and I have known about your band for a long time. From when it was just you and Tim (guitarist) doing the duel vocalist gigs to becoming a full band to putting records out on your own label. But how did this major label deal with Island come about?
Ya, you know we were building stuff on our own for a long time. Then real fans were showing up, and buying real tickets. Buying the music we were making. But it seemed like there wasn’t any real labels showing up and watching us. But we were convinced that if we were able to get someone to come see us at one of our big shows in a big town, preferably our hometown (St. Louis) in front of you know, so many..thousand or two thousand people that they would get it. Then they would be able to provide us with offers. But then we started working with a lawyer, Dan Fredman, who did just that. He talked to some people and got them to come out and see one of our shows. And it all sort of came together at SXSW. I believe in 2006. Several different labels came out, and once they smelt blood in the water it was easy to get interest from everyone else. We ended up fielding some indie label offers and some major label offers. We then decided that it is best for us to go ahead and go with Island. And so far it has shown to be the right decision the entire time.
Nice, but have you witnessed any of the major label downfalls yet?
No not really. I guess the only thing in a negative light is that sometimes it takes awhile to get the behemoth moving on a particular thing. But I guess that isn’t just because they are a major. We are use to the just the five us setting in our van on the internet being able to say, "Lets do it, and lets do it now". As opposed to having to reach out to other people in the circle and getting them to take action as well. You know there are different channels to go through, and it takes more time. That happens when you have a bigger team, and trying to get everyone on the same page. But they have been extremely awesome to us. Giving us complete artistic freedom. We were fortunate to build something before they came around. They knew that Ludo works, and they just wanted to help us bring Ludo to the rest of the world. They basically gave us all the room in the world.
Obviously the are not falling short of that.
Next I want to talk about the “Love Me Dead” video. I personally think it is genius. It was a simple concept yet completely original. Was this your idea?
It was all the band’s idea. It was crazy. We all got together and started brainstorming ideas on what we wanted to do. You know it is funny to see a month later all these random people running around and grabbing random props you envisioned, and wearing the stupid costumes you envisioned. It was really cool seeing someone up their realizing your idea.
This video is up for voting on TRL. What are your thoughts on that whole scene with TRL or MTV?
I don’t know. A few of us grew up as big fans of the third wave of SKA. You know we were very, very against the whole idea of being a sell out. And it is still a prevalent notion now. And of course to a lot of people TRL seems to be that evil apex of selling out. But we kind of rejected the idea that one thing equals the other. From the beginning we wanted to make the music we wanted to make and get it in front of as many people as humanly possible. To get people to listen to it or come to a show and decide for themselves if "This is awesome, this sucks, or I don’t care" or whatever they want to determine.
But it doesn’t have to be rammed down anyone’s throat. At Least make it possible to as many people we can and give them the opportunity to decide whether they like us or not. You know TRL or any other outlet that reaches millions and millions of people is an amazing vehicle to give that opportunity to people.
Right. Now continuing on that song. It has also received massive radio support. When and where you the first time you heard that song outside of St. Louis?
We were driving into LA. They played it on K ROQ, and they did a really cool intro into the song that talked about us. It was pretty surreal. It was LA, I mean LA is huge. And our song was playing on one of the biggest rock stations in the world. It was crazy.
Congratulations on that.
Now, like I said earlier you guys have been around a lot longer than just this album. We all have friends in bands and after years and years of grinding away they sometimes just end up calling it quits. However, you guys have managed to stay together, and it is finally paying off. How have you guys managed to maintain as a band and still strive for that goal?
I don’t know. I guess you never really think about it till you hear other bands say, “So and so came into today and quite and no body knows why.”
Then when you hear someone say that you. You realize how much we actually communicate. We have meetings that are often painful and long where everyone flushes out all the shit they have been dealing with.
Frustrations in our band never gets to that point where it explodes. You know, it doesn’t even get to that point where we act out, or someone doesn’t show up for something or goes out and gets hammered then disappears. If people have problems we force each other to let it out. That we are one step ahead or least even with problems that may arise. Communicating just allows us to get through whatever crap we need to get through. I mean it is difficult, and no one wants to have those conversations. But in the long run you are better for having them.
Right. Now you are achieving the success at this point that a lot of bands strive to achieve. However, for you guys it has been a long road. Where there points were you thought to yourself. “Is this ever going to happen? Or should we keep doing this?”
No, we successfully diluted ourselves to keep trudging. I mean the tiniest morsels of success reinforced everything. It was like "yeah, yeah we are doing something". But for me personally it was a something we were going to see till the end no matter what, and we are still taking that attitude. However, it is funny when I think about the way we were when we first started with nothing, with no one knowing us, with nothing going for us, not even a full band. I listen to that and thought “ Jesus, we had no chance in the world. What are we doing?”
But I guess it is just clarity of will, believing insanely, absurdly that you must continue on, and that you are heading in the right direction.
Now again, I am from Omaha, and I have heard the crazy rumors or urban legends of these annual shows you guys put on in St. Louis like the HaLUDOween and A Very LUDO Christmas. Can you explain to me these shows?
Haha, They are just spectacles. I mean they are just everything that is Ludo and then stuff them in a trick or treat bag. I mean Ludo is fun. I mean the big one we do is A Very LUDO Christmas. You just walk out of the show soaked in christmasness. We cover the venue in St Louis with tons of Christmas decorations, and music, and we have people dress up like the ginger bread man, Santa Clause, and elves, I don’t know it just ridiculous. It is just a winter wonderland on stage. I guess the meaning is it ok to have fun. It is ok to participate. We try to entertaining you without making you dumber. We feel like that is great way of doing that. It doesn’t make you an idiot for having fun. But if it does then cool.
Yeah, I have seen you guys numerous times. It seems no matter if it is a small show with 20 kids to a huge show with a 1000 kids you always try to make the very best of it.
Yeah, I mean we always try to be present in that moment. We try to seize every single show, and making that specific show special. Make it so that you are in the room and engaging with those people. We are paid to be here, and people have paid to be here. So we have a full responsibility to entertain them.
Now you guys are on tour The Spill Canvas. What are your thought of this tour?
Very very great. We are going across the country in a very short amount of time. We are playing a lot of very nice rooms. It will be nice to just hit the entire country in just one tour. We are seeing Ludo fans out there, and are seeing what “Love Me Dead” did for us being on the radio. Seeing what we have been working so hard, and then finally seeing what is has done for us. We are able to show people our live show, because the Ludo live show is the main part about this band.
Then you are going on the second half of Warped tour.
We are in a bus for the first time in our lives, and we are so excited of this.
Are you sharing it or do you have it for yourselves?
I believe we have it to ourselves. We are thrilled. We will not know what to do with ourselves. But we have to return right back to a van after warped tour, so we are going to have to immediately erase all memories of the bus.
Thank you so much for your time, and good luck Andrew.
He's not kidding when he says Ludo's live show is an experience. I went to a show just to see a friend who was in town to see them and when they took the stage I was memorized and delighted. Great show. Amazing music. They're not spring chickens either so I'm always impressed by dudes who are like my age who keep plugging away at their dream instead of going the safe route and getting a job with benefits lol.