Akin to pop-punk superstars Fall Out Boy, Ludo has made a name for itself by writing catchy, hook-laden tunes with outrageous, attention-grabbing titles. With a rock opera titled Broken Bride and an incessant string of high-energy shows—which frequently include the band wearing anything from Santa outfits to superhero capes—Ludo has dedicated itself to its promise of “entertaining people without making them dumber.” Fresh off this year’s Warped Tour and Bamboozle festival, Ludo is once again traveling the lower 48 to promote their first major label release, “You’re Awful, I Love You.” Prior to Ludo’s show at the Metro, I caught up with guitarist Tim Ferrell to talk about Broken Bride (and the U of C’s own production of it), keeping in contact with fans, and what it’s like to finally hit it big.
Hayley Lamberson: I’m not sure if you were aware of this or not, but a couple of years ago, University Theater here at University of Chicago adapted your rock opera Broken Bride onto stage. Did you hear about this?
Tim Ferrell: Oh, I was there. We were touring at the time and got to come and see it. It was totally crazy for us. We went to the cast party and got to hang out. It was amazing. In fact, I have a poster hanging up in my bedroom.
HL: How did you guys feel about it? Did you ever think that someone would make your rock opera come to fruition like that?
TF: Even when we were working on it in the studio we thought we would eventually take it to the stage. Right after it came out we knew we would be doing it way down the road, though. Even now we still get e-mails “Go make a Broken Bride comic book,” or “Put it on stage,” or something like that. We always say, “Oh, go for it,” but not much comes to actualization.
HL: Was it faithful to how you imagined the story?
TF: Kind of, yes. Once we knew their vision then, yeah, it was good. What I had pictured was more Broadway, more crazy and stupid though. Mine will never happen. They made it more practical, but they nailed it. I mean, it was a whole large group of people who put just as much into it as we had with recording the album. They really lived it and were just as invested in it.
HL: Have you guys ever thought about staging another production of it yourselves?
TF: Definitely. Every day different ideas come up. Now we’re finishing up touring and starting to write for a new album but having different ideas every day. I don’t think Broken Bride is over, whether it’s with us or others. Just recently some college marching band did a Broken Bride medley. All different kinds of things have come from it.
HL: Why create a rock opera in the first place? Any other ones up your sleeve?
TF: Nothing in the works, but maybe someday. We didn’t originally set out to do a rock opera. It just started with the band writing more and more songs. We first wrote the song “Broken Bride,” which told a story that never really finished. We started playing it, and eventually fans and us wanted to know what happens next and wanted to explore it. We didn’t know how many parts it would be, but we just started writing more and more. Eventually we realized the story was going to take more than two songs, and before we knew it we wrote a rock opera.
HL: On a much different note, tell me about this “The Ludo Video Thing” that your fans seem so fond of.
TF: It started out when we went to record the new album. To keep people posted on the making of it.... so we had cameras following us around the whole time. Once we were out of the studio, though, we used it as a fun little outlet for videos. We have got to do a better job of updating.
HL: Speaking of fans, apparently you have two videos for “Love Me Dead,” correct? An official one and something having to do with your fans?
TF: Oh, the Ludo toothbrush video? We actually didn’t know that the song was going to be an actual single, so we had people send in video of them singing that song while brushing their teeth. All kinds of people sent us stuff, and it’s really funny, and then later we did a video for the label where we got to go on a big stage and have our turn of making fools of ourselves.
HL: What was it like working with Matt Wallace for “You’re Awful, I Love You?” He’s worked with some pretty big names [Maroon 5, Train, Faith No More].
TF: The idea was intimidating, but nothing about actually being with him was. At first we were a little nervous. I mean, you hear stories about big time producers that make bands do only what they want to do, but that’s not what he’s about at all. He really helped us get where we wanted to go with the record, and he really pushed us to be more Ludo. Every time I say this I sound full of shit, but he really brought the best out of us.
HL: This is your first album after signing onto a major label. Were there any noticeable changes during the recording? What, in general, has changed?
TF: It’s been way different from our other two records released on our own indie label. We put those out ourselves; there was no real distribution, and everything came straight from us. All our other records were made in less than seven days for few a thousand dollars. Now we have the best equipment in the world and all the time in the world. Since signing, things have been way different. Now our songs are on the radio, we’re playing Tonight Show, our song is on TRL.... it’s nuts. The doors have opened, and it’s now a whole new game. We’re thankful for having a time when we were doing things on own because we came to know our identity, and now that we’re swimming in bigger waters, it’s easier to stay true.
HL: Is there anything you miss from your indie label days?
TF: Some things, but overall I don’t miss much. Life is so much better now, but I’m glad we spent the few first years of the band doing that stuff. We have so many stories that, if we had been signed right off the bat, we never would have had. We never would have played for 10 people or have been booked with metal bands. Experiencing that made us so much better and helped us learn this crazy, stupid business, where we were booking our own shows and mailing our own T-shirts. I’m so grateful, but I would not want to go back. Now we get to focus more on our music. I’m glad I can pay some bills. When it comes to the starving artist thing, I don’t really like to think of art as suffering.