There is some amazing music that is coming out of the Bay Area or San Francisco as we Angelinos prefer to call that Northern California region. Ludira is one of The Bay Area’s best kept secret. The band has been in existence since 1998.Origionally it was formed as a 2 man project but soon was expanded as a five-piece. The band plays a distinctive crust core influenced black metal with neo classical tendencies. The members of Ludicra have all had a long standing history in the San Francisco underground independent music scene. John Cobbett (guitar) Christy Cather (guitar/vocals) Ross Sewage (bass) Laurie Sue Shanaman (vocals) and Aesop (drums) is the current line –up that makes up Ludicra. They have released 3 prior releases to the current highly acclaimed album entitled “The Tenant” on Profound Lore Recordings. Ludicra was to embark on a tour with Norwegian heavy weights Mayhem but just days before the tour was to commence Mayhem cancelled the whole tour and Ludicra were left hanging with time off and disappointed. So what does the band do, they venture forward on their own and head on the road calling the new tour the De-cancellation Tour 2010.
It was in the initial dates of the tour that Ludicra’s John Cobbett suffered severe appendicitis. Forcing him to be bedridden and hospitalized for an undisclosed amount of time. It was during this crucial time that the remaining members of Ludicra decided to forge on again and continue with their U.S. tour while their band mate rested and healed. This brings us to the present day. I conversed with Ludicra drummer Aesop after one of their unbelievable performances here in Los Angeles. So let’s see what is up with The Bay Area’s best kept secret, Ludicra.
Bulldozer: Hello Aesop congrats on an amazing live performance , your band is on tour in support of your latest release “The Tenant” but there was some very interesting circumstances regarding one of your members? This is why the tour hence was named “The De-cancelation tour?” Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?
Aesop: Well we played one show and our guitar player John Cobbett’s appendix burst ,forcing us to cancel 6 shows, and played 5 without him as a four-piece, then we flew him out to Rochester and then we played 25 shows with the full band.
Bulldozer: Wow he was able to perform after that surgery huh?
Aesop: Yes, he was better than ever because he had a full week to recover, he had time to relax and cleanse and was looked after by our good friends in “The Wolves in Throne Room” and they took really good care of him. They are very good friends and they totally took care of him and flew him out our way to resume the tour.
Bulldozer: What was very interesting when this tragic incident occurred was how the whole Heavy Music Underground Scene came to your aid. You mentioned Wolves in a Throne Room they actually set up a direct donation web site, talented underground artist Raymond Ahner was selling his art to assist with Cobbetts medical costs, and Famous producer Billy Anderson also volunteered his production skills to the fund raising cause. Truly a gathering of The Underground Independent Music scene, how does that make you and the rest of the band feel?
Aesop: Well we were all pretty much overwhelmed by the support and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that a lot of people were just impressed that we were not going to call it quits and simply go home. Where we come from (San Francisco) a lot of people love and respect us .We never really done a full tour so I think in a weird way they felt like we were representing them and showing people what they have known for years which is that this is a really special band.
Bulldozer: What was incredible during this difficult time was that the crtics reviews of your live performances were very favorable and positive! Critics were praising the bands performances even though you lacked your guitarist. Truly you guys never skipped a beat. Able to over come such a difficult hurtle. Again Congratulations are in order.
Aesop: Thank you. Awesome! I really appreciate that!
Bulldozer: So now that the tour is winding down what else is in store for Ludicra?
Aesop: Well we are going to take the summer off; everybody is going to work with their other bands. Other projects have gone by the wayside since we worked on the record and were consumed by this tour. Then we will resume and begin another tour some time in October or November.
Bulldozer: Will you be shooting off to tour Europe?
Aesop: We would love to, it is something we have never done, we get a lot of offers, and it is long over due.
Bulldozer: The one thing that I find interesting about Ludicra, is that the bands sound is very indescribable, the music it self seems to capture many elements of different types of heavy music and incorporates many genres. I can hear the black metal, crust, melodic metal influence but yet it borders on it’s own originality. The musicianship is superb, you tend to mix up all these different styles of extreme music and blend it into one whole sound, and it all comes together well, would you agree? Is that something that you set out from the beginning to achieve?
Aesop: No I mean originally John and I started the band, our intent was to create really dark cult black metal, we were both under the impression that we would record one record and possibly never play a show and eventually break up. But then we ended up stickling together and brining more people into the band and making another record and another, everything about Ludicra has been this really natural progression. We never really censored ourselves, we are all very interested in a lot of very different types of music and we sort of just stopped trying to be this or that. We just let things happen naturally, that’s kind of always been our method. We just get in the practice place and begin the trial and error method until we figure out what works best for us. We are very focused on the way we put songs together and the musicianship has been more of a main interest to us than any particular genre or image, so I think that is why Ludicra sort of stands out. Plus in San Francisco there are a lot of bands, and if you are not good, and if you are not doing something interesting people tend not to give a shit, there is a lot of competition! It is friendly but it is like we learned early on that if just sort of follow a cookie cutter path people will just not care. To be quite honest it would be extremely boring for us. This band has been around for 12 years and we are more interested and motivated than we have ever been before to create new music and perform.
Bulldozer: There has been this new extreme Black metal musical movement that has steered away from the usual Norwegian inspired type of stage antics and musical themes and has carved out their own place in the black metal underground. Bands like yourselves and The Wolves in The Throne Room have reignited so to speak the engines of a almost dying movement. I for one am excited and interested in this scene that in my opinion has lost some what of it’s creative element and independence. What is your opinion on this and where do you think Ludicra fits in with the black metal audience. Do you think they will appreciate the good extreme music without the traditional black metal antics?
Aesop: Well that is interesting? In San Francisco or in The Bay Area our following has always been the punk crowd, or crusties. That has always been our appeal but people tend to forget we pre-date a lot of those Black Metal bands and when we started people did not know what to think of us and actually with this last record (The Tenant) a lot of people on this tour where under the impression that this was our first record and where surprised and blown away that we had 3 other releases prior to this one.
Bulldozer: I hate to admit this but unfortunately but I am that geographic that you are talking about.
Aesop: It is bitter sweet, like part of me questions why did it take so long for people to get on board, but there is another part of me that is like cool people understand it. I feel that it is better for us to have this real solid loyal fan base that really understands and appreciates what we do than to have people that are into a trend and will get on board and then get the fuck out! As much I think that people are impressed with us I personally have been impressed with the people that come to see us. I have noticed that they are really moved and they are really appreciative and they really understand what we are trying to achieve.
Bulldozer: It is really a credit to yourselves and the music that you write because aside from it being unique and original, you incorporate so many distinctive elements that it is appealing to a whole wide audience that is into Extreme music. You tend not to exclude anyone. Especially here in Los Angeles where it is more difficult to grasp a certain audience that is opened minded unlike San Francisco where there is a more receptive audience to experimental music, would you agree with this observation?
Aesop: Yes I do, I tend to agree with you.
Bulldozer: I noticed tonight that the audience was completely mixed, and that you were well received. I was surprised to see that Ludicra indeed has a large following here in Los Angeles.
Aesop: That was truly amazing to us as well? That was the fourth time we have played here and this has been the best show by far. We have always had this reputation as being a stronger band lives than we are on record. I totally agree with that opinion. So when we play live I totally understand that we give some of this cathartic experience to people that a lot of bands merely repeat on what they do on record and do not focus on pleasing the audience. We focus more on playing live than making records so when we play shows I think that kind of comes out, this tour has shown me that there is like a hand full of people that are like “ I waited for years to see you play!” and then I have met these people that are like” I read about you three days ago, I have had my fucking mind blown!” So over all it has been a great response. I always sort of liked the sodality and slowness that way people come into our fold. I really appreciate that.
Bulldozer: I am also find it very interesting that you have the dual female vocals, and the fact that some of your audience that is not familiar with your band will assume that you are inspired by current female fronted bands like Arch Enemy ext. But in reality you predate that phase and have had these amazingly fierce vocalists with the extra ordinary gift of brutality!
Aesop: Those women are incredible! They are not in the band because they are women they are in the band because they are amazing performers. They are not here because they are women or because it is the cool trend now. They are here because they are Powerful!
Bulldozer: That is evident they especially bring some true brutality to the live performance!
Aesop: Yes I do not know any male or female who can really pull that off! That energy and that intensity of Laurie’s performance I don’t know anybody that can match that hands down. It is a joy to watch her play every night and explode, what is ironic is that she is the most sweet and demure person.
Bulldozer: Let’s talk about the new record “The Tenant” it has been well received and highly praised, how does this differ from the last release?
Aesop: Well we took a little more risks? We were a little more self conscience, a little more comfortable with the recording process, we kind of stopped thinking about it so much, it was very instinctual when we were writing the songs, it was more like is this good? Is this not? We stopped censoring ourselves so much.
Bulldozer: You aloud yourselves to be more open?
Aesop: Yeah, we let a lot of influences that we kept in the back of our minds into our writing process. People have stated that there is some elements of Thrash and New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and there is more guitar solos. These were things that we were nervous about and bringing into the fold, but as we get older and get more comfortable making records we tend to have developed this attitude of “Fuck It” If people don’t like it whatever, it is all about how we feel about our music and being proud of our record!
As I stated in the beginning, there is some amazing music coming out of The Bay Area but Ludicra definitely leads the pack. If you have not been exposed to Ludicra you need to seek out their new release entitled “The Tenant!” on Profound Lore Records, It is truly an incredible record. Look for the band on tour; let’s hope no other member of the band has any health issues this time around?