What separates Island recording artists Ludo from so many of their fellow post-punk bands today? In a word: humor.
The St. Louis-based quintet may sing about the trials and travails of life, love and being young in the 21st century like the emo and screamo bands that epitomize the teen spirit that drives much modern rock. They do it, however, with a sense of cheeky aplomb, absurdity and pop cultural kitsch, providing a spoonful of sugar that not only makes the medicine go down easily but also enhances its curative powers.
Taking their name from the affable monster in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, Ludo have won their band-on-the-rise stature the old fashioned way: working the tour circuit from their Midwest base with zealous discipline and devotion. A showbiz sense of entertainment along with music that’s both powerful and catchy has left a growing legion and fans in their wake.
“If this takes off, people will say we came out of nowhere,” observes guitarist Tim Ferrell. But the truth of the matter is, “We slept on floors for five years.”
Ferrell and singer/guitarist Andrew Volpe met in college in St. Louis. The group began to take form when they holed up in a house in Tulsa together. “We went somewhere where we knew no one and could only focus on Ludo and we did that and it worked,” says Volpe. When the two persuaded their friend Tim Convy to join as Ludo’s Moog synthesizer man, the band’s instrumental hook was found. Bassist Marshall Fanciullo and drummer Matt Palermo of Houston round out the act.
A self-titled indie album in 2004 and a 2005 EP-length rock opera, Broken Bride, stoked the buzz Ludo’s live show was already creating, prompting Alternative Press to name them one of its “Bands to Watch in 2007.” Major labels and top indies came courting, and Island Records won out.
Their major label debut, You’re Awful, I Love You, was produced by Matt Wallace (known for his work with Maroon 5, Faith No More and others), and has yielded the Modern Rock chart hit “Love Me Dead.” And the band is happy to have made the leap to the major leagues with their spirit, soul and humor intact, thanks to their producer. “He basically used all his Matt Wallace wisdom to help us realize our vision and make the album that we wanted to make,” says Volpe. “He has a sharp ear and really got out of us what we needed to get out.”