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Ludo

Ludo

Rock group

Ludo was formed during lead singer Andrew Volpe's sophomore year of college, when, he wrote on the Island Records Web site, "I finally accepted that all I wanted to do in life was rock." He soon recruited Tim Ferrell, another guitarist. Despite the fact that they were still in college, they spent most of their time writing as many songs as they could.

Ferrell graduated from college, while Volpe did not. He told an interviewer in White Collar Punk Rocker that his parents were generally supportive of his career even though he had not finished college: "[T]hey see how hard we work, and they know how much we love what we do. Of course, there's an occasional ‘Get a REAL job!’ but for the most part they've all been great." Volpe told Kathleen McLaughlin in the Riverfront Times, that "I spent a long time trying to come up with something more ‘adult’ to do, something more easily mentioned in a group of one's parents' friends. After a while I was like, ‘Who am I kidding?’"

The two moved from their hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, to a $300 a month rental house in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they did not know anyone and, as Volpe wrote on the Island Records Web site, they "could rock with no distractions. And by ‘rock,’ I mean ‘hover over my space heater in isolation and sadness.’" They had one rule during this impoverished time: 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."

Their friend Tim Convy, who played the moog synthesizer, joined them at this point, and they made a three-song demo. They hit the road for a tour in Volpe's Camry, playing more open mics, and telling everyone that they would be back in several months with their (nonexistent) full band, and selling their (nonexistent) full-length record. As Volpe commented on the Island Records site: "Ha. Stupid!"

Back in Tulsa, they decided they had better make an attempt to live up to all the lies they had told, so they put an ad on the Internet looking for a bassist and drummer to complete their band. Bassist Marshall Fanciullo and drummer Matt Palermo answered the call. Fanciullo told McLaughlin that the band he was in at the time was breaking up, and his girlfriend was pressuring him to get married. He remarked, "I would be a better father and husband having chased my dreams and passions in life. It was important for me to go for it, and really go for it." Three weeks later, they went into the studio to record the band's debut album, Ludo, which they released on their own label, called Redbird Records.

Fourteen days later, they hit the road again, this time with a "real" band. Their first show, in Indianapolis, was a disaster. Volpe wrote on the Island Records site, "[T]he crowd was drunk/wanting to fight us, and we played like grizzly bears." But by 2005, they had built up a following, and released a rock opera EP, Broken Bride. It tells the story of a man who travels through time to prevent his wife's death in a car accident in 1989. McLaughlin wrote that the EP "incorporated a range of musical influences and reinforced Ludo's reputation for having theatrical flair."

Volpe commented on the Island Records Web site that the EP seemed to give the band "street cred," which made "it harder for people who hate things," such as "dudes in chatrooms [and] college music columnists" to hate the band. However, they were exhausted from all the touring, selling t-shirts, running Web sites, talking to promoters, and all the other nonmusical work of being a band, and they still did not have a contract with any label.

They played more shows and made more contacts in the industry. One thing in their favor was their light, playful approach to their music. One of the record executives who courted them, Jaime Feldman of Capitol Records, told McLaughlin, "I think there's room now for bands that are going to have fun. The band has fantastic personality and showmanship."

Finally, they caught the attention of Island Records when a representative of the label saw them perform in St. Louis. Dan Friedman, an entertainment lawyer who helped broker the band's five-album deal with Island, told McLaughlin, "[The Island rep] saw 1,200 kids singing along to all the songs. He said, ‘You'll have paper within a week’."

In October of 2006, they signed with Island, a five-album deal that allowed them to turn their own Redbird Records label into an imprint of Island. In early 2007, they went to southern California to work with producer Matt Wallace and record their major-label debut, You're Awful, I Love You. It was released in February of 2008. Volpe told the White Collar Punk Rocker interviewer that Wallace "supported us in making the record we wanted to make. We also got to live in Hollywood for two months which was quite an experience in and of itself."

You're Awful, I Love You featured several popular singles, including the title track, an amusingly truthful take on a poisonous relationship, "Such as It Ends," "Please," and "Mutiny Below." Wallace told McLaughlin, "The thing to listen for is the tremendous amount of emotion and humanity behind all the stuff they try to hide it with."

The White Collar Punk Rocker interviewer asked Volpe what advice he had to pass on to any bands who were just starting out. Volpe replied, "Love it. Do it for yourself. Write lots of songs. Push each other. Play every show you can. If something isn't fun, don't do it. Get plenty of sleep."

For the Record …

Members include Tim Convy (joined 2002), synthesizers; Marshall Fanciullo (joined 2003), bass; Tim Ferrell (joined 2001), guitar; Matt Palermo (joined 2003), drums; Andrew Volpe (joined 2001), guitar, lead vocals.

Group formed in 2001; began playing acoustic shows full time in 2003; released Ludo, 2004; released Broken Bride, 2005; released You're Awful, I Love You, 2008.

Addresses: Record company—Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.

Selected discography

Ludo, Redbird Records, 2004.

Broken Bride, Redbird Records, 2005.

You're Awful, I Love You, Island Records, 2008.

Sources

"Band Worth Knowing: Ludo," White Collar Punk Rocker,http://whitecollarpunkrocker.blogspot.com/2008/06/band-worth-knowing-ludo.html (June 23, 2008).

"Ludo," Island Records Official Web site, http://www6.islandrecords.com/site/artist_bio.php?artist_id=655 (June 23, 2008).

"Ludo Is Fired up and Ready to Play on the National Stage," Riverfront Times,http://www.rftstl.com/2008-02-20/news/land-of-ludo/ (June 23, 2008).

—Kelly Winters

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ludo

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