There's been quite a bit of news out of the Ludo camp lately. The St. Louis band, whose 2008 major-label debut, You're Awful, I Love You, sold over 100 thousand copies thanks to non-stop touring, was rather quiet the first half of 2009 but have emerged with all sorts of announcements. The band is re-releasing their first two albums on their own label September 29, they are playing nine shows this fall where they'll be performing their 2005 rock opera Broken Bride in its entirety, and they've begun work on their next album for Island Records with producer Matt Wallace. But that's not all Ludo has been working on in the first half of the year.
They've announced the formation of a side-project, The New Heathers. "It all just kind of worked out," says Ludo guitarist and Heathers' front man Tim Ferrell. "I was writing a lot of songs that didn't really fit for Ludo. We finally had some time off and our singer, Andrew, wanted to spend some time at home before we put out the next Ludo album. Fortunately for me, the other guys were anxious to record and play some shows as well." And so 3/4 of Ludo - singer/ guitarist Ferrell, keyboardist Tim Convy, and drummer Matt Palermo entered the studio and became The New Heathers.
Why "The New Heathers?" When the trio was still unnamed, Convy came across an article about Winona Ryder declaring that there was a sequel in the works to her 80's teen dark comedy Heathers. "I'm a big fan of that movie, so I kept looking for details," said Convy. "As it turns out, every few years Wynona declares they're making a sequel, but no one else involved with the film knows what she's talking about, and no one's actually planning to make the sequel...ever!" Convy brought the name to his band mates and within days Ferrell came across "The New Heathers" in the book he was reading at the time, Jack Keourac's Dharma Bums. They took it as a sign.
So armed with a name, they set out to find a sound. "It'll sound something like Ludo, 'cause it's us playing, but Tim's songs and voice are pretty different from Andrew's," says Palermo. Ludo fans have heard Ferrell's work before; he's penned several Ludo songs including "Topeka", a fan-favorite from You're Awful, I Love You. But the six songs on the EP entitled The Fuel, The Fire, The Spark are different not only from Ludo tracks but from each other. "Agatha" starts the release off with guitar noises and slides into a throwback soul song about hopeless love, complete with a dueling guitar fade-out ending. "Mr. Green Blades" is prog-y and invokes Queen and Rush while the title track could be a lost Johnny Cash tune. "Start" is a socially-conscious Ramones-style anthem, "Hammer & Chisel" borrows from The Decemberists and "Santa Rosa" is equal parts Wilco and Simon and Garfunkel.
But all of the influences are united by two things: Ferrell's simple, sincere vocals and the production of Jason McEntire. "We wanted it to be simple, stripped down, and to feel very live. We did it all in seven days," says McEntire who was also at the boards for Ludo's Broken Bride as well as albums for Ha Ha Tonka and Son Volt. The Fuel, The Fire, The Spark is available at digital retailers now and the physical release hits stores October 13th. The New Heathers will headline their first shows across the U.S. this fall in between Ludo dates starting October 18 is Allston, MA.
October 18 - Allston, MA - Harper's Ferry
October 20 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
October 21 - Lansing, MI - Mac's Bar
October 25 - Omaha, NE - Sokol Underground
October 26 - Lawrence, KS - The Granada
October 27 - Iowa City, IA - The Picador
October 28 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock
November 1 - Colorado Springs, CO - The Black Sheep
November 4 - Salt Lake City, UT - V2
November 9 - Scottsdale, AZ - Martini Ranch
November 10 - Tuscon, AZ - Club Congress
November 12 - Austin, TX - Emo's