An Interview with Billy “Ludwyg”


This article originally appeared in print in Buzzbin Magazine, 2011. The music is now available. Here’s a link to it on MySpace.

“Whether I like it or not, the band is my number one priority.”

With those words, Billy and I settled into our seats behind the 13th Floor Gallery’s front counter and started an interview that rambled, went off-point and eventually summed up enough about the new Ludwyg album, “Violent,” that I’m officially excited about the CD release party on February 19th.

While we chatted, local artist and gallery regular Scott Phillips continued working on the first of three large pieces that will be chopped up and distributed in each of the 666 physical CDs. The atmosphere stayed relaxed and Billy started playing the new album – sans vocals due to sickness – to let me get a feel for what was coming.

Ludwyg has an EP available at the moment, but “Violent” will be their first LP. That’s not for trying. A year ago, an album was nearly complete when the hard drive the songs were stored on “crashed, so we lost everything.”

That means the new album will have a decidedly different feel than the EP they’re currently known for. “I think a band… each album kind of progresses. Gets a little bit better. I kinda feel we skipped that whole step.” Fans may be a little surprised by what they hear, but the foundations of the band’s sound are still there. They’ve just moved their focus a bit.

“The first album was more electronic. The guitars and a lot of the live stuff was underneath and the electronics were up front. This album is way more organic.” The electronics are still there, but they exist more to back up the band’s performance – enhance it – rather than overshadow it.

“Friends that are in other bands, and Adam, the guy who actually mixed and mastered it, are kind of shocked that this is where we went.” The guitar and percussion line that came in after those words left me agape, as they felt decidedly Keane-esque. That could be because both Ludwyg and Keane count Joy Division as an influence, if not directly then in the fact that they would both be comfortable in a Manchester venue.

As the album progressed it was still full of the industrial, darker presence people are expecting, but it is definitely more alive with experimentation. “Even saying experimental is a cop-out,” Billy argues. “Any band, I mean, I hate new country music but you could even classify that as experimental. Everybody’s experimental. If you’re not experimenting you’re a cover band.”

At the CD release show, the band plans to get even rawer. “We’re not going to do any backing tracks or anything. It’s just going to be completely raw. These are the songs and this is the four of us. For this show in particular we don’t want to have any of the extra stuff.” The band plans on playing the complete album, but a couple of the song s may be a little different to accommodate the party feel. “We just want it to be a good time. For everyone to have fun.”

The CD will be available from all of the usual internet sources, including iTunes, Amazon and the band’s own website, but buying one of the limited edition CDs comes with some bonuses. Billy brought in Scott Phillips to work as a visual artist for the band, which will translate into CD sleeve inserts that are only available with the limited edition. Billy’s gallery also hosted a Scott Phillips art show that, in turn, inspired a song on the new CD and lent the song its title.

After the CD comes out, the band plans on doing some shows if the opportunity presents itself, but Billy won’t commit himself to anything inside the box at the moment. It’s apparent that the band may be his first priority, but he doesn’t want that to get in the way of creativity. He shows me an old video camera that he managed to acquire along with a few rolls of film. He mentions projecting images of the band on the sides of some buildings and then filming the images. He talks about performing at art galleries and craft fairs. “I want to make it more about the event. Nobody wants to just go out and see a band anymore. Especially with all of the cover bands floating around. People would rather sit inside and be on Facebook. You have to give them a real reason to get out.”

All in all, Ludwyg fans will be pleased with the new offerings and people just tuning in to the band for the first time will find them more accessible than they were on their EP. Their sound has built into more of a band sound than a produced sound, but that could stem from the fact that they’re now four when before they were two. It could just be the direction it’s going for the moment. Regardless of why the songs sound the way they do, we know it’s an experiment that takes priority in one artist’s life. And he genuinely hopes you enjoy it.

This article originally appeared in print in Buzzbin Magazine, 2011. The music is now available. Here’s a link to it on MySpace.

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