It’s nice to know that even a lowly music writer likes me has a few things in common with a (reluctant) rockstar like Ludo’s Andrew Volpe. For instance his guitar has six strings; mine has four. His confirmation name is Bartholomew (in honor of Bart Simpson) and mine is Bartholomew (in honor of Bart Starr). We both like music from the World War two catalog; I tend toward the canteen songs and the Andrews sisters while Volpe leans toward the holiday songs. Wait… the World War Two Hoilday songs?
And so it goes with one of pop music’s more erudite songsmiths. His lists of musical likes covers the range from the aforementioned holiday music all the way up to Foo Fighters and “Les Mis.”
I caught up with Volpe just a few days into their current tour to see how things were progressing. We ended up talking songwriting, although he did sy that the tour was great because a couple of the bands were friends before this tour and it was cool to be able to travel back and forth across the country to play with them.
One of the most telling elements of Volpe’s success as a songwriter is the audience reaction to his music. “Prepare the Preparations” was released on September 7, 2010. As the tour opened on September 9, 2010, people already knew all the words to the songs.
“It’s impressive,” Volpe begins, “Every show – they all know the new songs. It shows me that what I am doing is worth it because people want to learn the songs.”
Volpe has a near Zen-like approach to writing lyrics. This get-out-of-the-way and let the song write itself practice doesn’t always work in lesser hands. The writer must be tuned in to what he or she is doing and then trust the song.
“When I was writing ‘Hum Along’ I had finished the second verse and I asked myself where the song wants to go. I am going to follow it and not worry about it.”
“Maybe you’d be kidnapped by pirates / And they would take you to their hideout/ As pirates often do / But I’d find the secret map / And I would vigilante-bushwhack/ Through the jungles of Peru.”
Not exactly the stuff of love songs, but it works well and the fans at the show I attended sang each line verbatim.
(“Hum Along” is not from the new disc, but the incongruity of the subject matter – and the audience enthusiasm over this song and its lyrical twists are worth noting.)
Volpe went to on say that is rewarding to see people so invested in the music.
While success is a subjective term, Volpe senses how much the band has accomplished and has his eyes firmly focused on what is (or could be) coming up for them if they continue doing what they do.
“I guess there was a plan in place right from the start,” Volpe said with regards to the bands arc of success to date.
“We decided to go forward – get to the top. We knew we had to go hard and go smart,” he said. “We had to climb each mountain to get to the next level. You have to envision success.”
Less a motivational speaker- and more the voice of experience, Volpe is witness to the idea that if you plan the work – then work the plan – anything is possible.
Catch up with the tour at one of these locations or for more information, log on at www.ludorock.com.
“Prepare the Preparations” is out now. Buy it. Learn it. Love it.
10/ 1 Los Angeles The Plush Lounge (VIP lounge @ the Key Club)
10/ 2 Sacramento The Boardwalk
10/ 5 Portland Hawthorne Theatre
10/ 6 Seattle El Corazon