It's a long way from a downtown apartment in Tulsa to a month-long East Coast run on the Warped Tour, but with patience, persistence and a lot of road work, it can still happen the old-fashioned way. If you think the days of hard work paying off are long gone, look no further than Ludo when the band returns to Tulsa for a show at The Marquee this Friday night, August 29.
What some people may not realize is that even though the band is now based out of St. Louis, Missouri, the group spent its first year working and playing out of an apartment in downtown Tulsa. A lot has happened since Andrew Volpe, Tim Ferrell and Tim Convy settled in to audition a rhythm section while writing songs and playing acoustic gigs and open mic nights, but the band remained focused and eventually landed a deal with Island/Def Jam Records, which released You're Awful, I Love You in February of this past year.
The in-between time included a move to St. Louis, non-stop touring and a lot of time connecting with a growing fan base. Fortunately, all of the hard work is paying off, as Ludo returns to town this Friday night, kicking off a two-week run with the Feds before spending the month of October opening for Relient K, then headlining a West coast run in the month of November.
With the reception the band's received for the new album, Ludo looks to be set to spend at least another year out on the road in support of the disc. "Love Me Dead," the first single from the album, is still in heavy rotation and landed at number eight on last week's modern rock radio charts, nearly six months after its release.
According to keyboardist Tim Convy, that's pretty much par for the course for Ludo.
"We were really lucky in that we got to prepare the label for the way Ludo goes," he told me last week.
"People usually scratch their heads at first listen, trying to figure it out, then later decide 'I love it' or 'I hate it'," he explained. "We knew when going to radio that it would take a while to get the reaction we wanted. Once the programmers caught on, though, we've been doing really well."
Part of that delayed appeal, as anyone who is familiar with the group can attest to, is the band's dark and dry wit, which comes through in its songs. That dark side made itself readily apparent on the group's second release, 2005's Broken Bride EP, a modern-rock opera about a man who loses his wife in a car accident and uses a time machine to go back and try to alter the situation.
Convy admitted that Broken Bride came as something of a surprise to the band, as well as to the fans.
"After the first record, we started writing and we came up with 'Broken Bride (Part I)' and it was one of our favorites, but the fans really resonated with it, too. They wanted to know what happened to the couple and we did, too, so we decided to explore that.
"Ultimately, it (took) more than one song to finish the story, and we realized it wouldn't fit a normal Ludo record, so we just decided to let the story dictate what happened," Convy continued. "We didn't really realize it was a rock opera until we were finished recording."
At the same time, the band also had a handful of songs written that they knew didn't fit with the Broken Bride record, but that they didn't want to release without a label, so they worked up demos of those songs, which were used to help shop the band to different labels.
Even though Broken Bride was a completely different type of record than the band was used to making, the fan response was still there. Not only was there an intriguing story line, but the music was strong and the band's personality and sense of humor were still allowed to shine through.
"I've always said that Ludo is what happens when the five of us are together," said Convy. "It's what our musical experiences are, what our life experiences are.
Some bands always sing about the long-lost girl or how 'I want to die,' but that's not the only thing anyone's about.
"We just try to be ourselves," he explained. "That involves a little darkness and humor and a lot of fun. At times we may take it a little too far and at times we fail, but for the most part, it's all very genuine. I think if most bands would be themselves, they might get more of a connection and response from their audience."
If the reaction to I Love You, You're Awful is any indicator, he may be right. Six months after the CD's release, the first single, "Love Me Dead" (which openly flaunts the band's dry wit) is still playing on modern rock radio and a second single hasn't been positioned yet. That bodes well, not only for a long run with this record, but for a long career.
As for now, however, the band is looking forward to a return to its old stomping grounds with Friday night's show. Not only will The Feds be sharing the bill, but The Hanks will return from L.A. to be part of the show, and My Solstice will open at 8pm. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
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