John Ludi is reasonably pleasant individual who writes, plays, and records tuneful and/or abrasive, melodic and often atmospheric songs about war, greed, materialism, the environment, biodiversity, apathy, corruption, mortality, ethics, the human condition and the rapidly-approaching end of civilization. He's more fun at funerals than parties.
Though he obviously has his own distinct sound and musical identity, major inspirations would be David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Nick Cave, David Sylvian, Todd Rundgren...and other eclectic artists whose work embraces contrast, juxtaposition, diversity and stylistic variance while still being easily identified as the unique and idiosyncratic artists they are. As a recording artist, Ludi's aim is to take the listener on a journey through dynamic peaks and valleys and leave them feeling well-traveled by the end of the experience. He wants that experience to be impacting on deep emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels.
(And now this will shift to the first person as I'm the one writing it...I'm not fooling anyone.)
I was born and raised in Detroit, a now-decaying post-industrial Mid-Western American city that used to be the automotive capital of the world. From a very early age, I sensed that there was something deeply wrong with the world and the majority of the people living on it. Though of a generally easygoing and humorous nature, a deep and omnipresent sense of foreboding in my heart did not exactly translate well in my youthful attempts at communicating with my fellow humans.
This particular attribute would persist indefinitely. Reading voraciously, progressing from a foundation of science fiction, fantasy and horror to mythology, science, philosophy, economics and world religions, I found myself obsessed with the “Big Questions”…you know…the ones that freak people out. I asked them a bit too often in polite company. (I’m a lot quieter now. Comes with age.)
The music of artists like Frank Zappa, King Crimson, and Peter Gabriel grabbed my ears in my early teens. I started singing odd and unpleasant little songs with a pianist/trumpeter friend in middle school, attempting to blend humor and dissonance in way that some would term avant guard (though on reflection could simply be termed “bad” ).
At around 13 years of age, I started learning how to play guitar, bass, and later, keyboards, as well as attempting to harness my embryonic vocal skills. Though very much intellectually and emotionally moved by progressive genres of rock music, I discovered the British Wave of Punk Rock in the mid/late 70’s and realized that the Sex Pistols and the Clash were a lot closer to my then-current skill set than Gentle Giant or Yes. The overtly political nature of the lyrics also inspired me.
Rapidly growing in my guitar playing ability, I teamed up with the only two other punk rockers I knew and assembled a short-lived but truly awful punk band that mercifully never made it out of the basement. No physical records exist of this project…hopefully.
Eventually, I happened upon the atonal experimentalism of artists such as the Residents, Renaldo and the Loaf, Chrome, Fred Frith, Laurie Anderson, Henry Kaiser, and Tuxedomoon. Inspired by such music, I formed a band with two other friends, named Pliny The Elder. The focus of this band was to make music that would cause both discomfort and laughter, often simultaneously, through the use of obnoxious sounds and lyrics that were an abstract mockery of the common culture.
Release: Pliny The Elder-Torpid Liver (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: Pliny The Elder-Compound Lobster Maintenance (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Pliny The Elder recorded over 200 “songs” over a period of 2 years and developed a small following via word of mouth and cassette-only releases.
I also recorded my own experimental music, generally increasing in compositional coherence with each release. I even managed to play some of this material live.
During this period, I maintained a weird and visually flamboyant public persona, often dressing in bizarre clothing, wearing theatrical makeup, and otherwise finding ways of attracting more attention than was probably justified and going out of my way to irritate people in general. I was pretty much an attention-whore…but I justified it with my altruistic conceits.
Release: Tim Z******i-Etcetera (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
After bludgeoning listeners with experimentalism and dissonance and finding myself only reaching those who were already well-versed with the “fringe” culture, I decided to find a more populist way to reach audiences with the philosophical and political messages and ideas I was trying to convey. I answered an ad for a lead vocalist for a band (named Gon Moros at the time) that was much more mainstream in it’s presentation, though still highly creative and musically inventive.
I took on the stage name “Tim Eldair” (a twist of the word “Elder”) , the band renamed itself Soft War, and together we began a campaign of recording and playing long weekend stints in the Mid-West, near-South, and East Coast, attempting to develop an audience.
Release: Soft War-Stay b/w Ruins (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: Soft War-Conflict (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
During this time I continued with the low-budget recording projects:
Release: Tim Eldair-Doubts, Fears, and the Death of Reason (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: Tim Eldair-The Slow Dance to Desolation (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
We released an EP that garnered the band a fairly impressive amount of press and airplay on the college radio circuit.
Release: Soft War-One Day It Will All Come Down (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Sadly, this was about as close to reaching a wide audience we would reach in this incarnation. Despite the quality of the music and the prolific output of the songwriting team of Greg Kutcher and “Tim Eldair”, we were not able to take advantage of this momentum and after 5 years in the group I left the fold after we recorded a never-released full length album and played our final show as Soft War at the famous New York club CBGB’s.
Recording: Soft War-Labor Day (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
The band continued on as Trust Fund and I slightly altered my stage name to “Tim Elder” and proceeded to continue a solo musical career that also included producing a fair amount of other artists and bands. (As it turns out, being a solo artist is my default mode…while I enjoy collaborating with others, it’s a lot easier and less stressful to just put things together on my own, even though I miss the extra nuances that other players provide.)
As “Tim Elder” I recorded a full length album that I used as a demo and moved from Detroit to Minneapolis. It was very well co-produced with Barry Warner, but the songs themselves were not up to my usual standards, so the album has sat largely in the “vaults”. A couple/few of the tunes are on my album of outtakes, the rest kind of make me wince.
Release: Tim Elder-Unsigned (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
The Minneapolis period was a particularly fertile one. I formed a band with several local musicians (the Hate Gods), started a soundtrack company, created a label (Sublime Carnage), assembled a comedy troop (the Bad Poets), formed an acoustic duo and put out several releases under my own name as well as under the names “House of Usher” and “The Quiet Earth Orchestra”.
Release: Tim Elder-The Hate God (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: House of Usher-The Healing Power of Oblivion (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: The Quiet Earth Orchestra-World Without Words (REMASTERED AND REISSUED IN 2020)
Release: Tim Elder-Everything b/w Crucified (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Release: Tim Elder-Fashionably Angry (CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)
Taking a somewhat new musical direction, I decided to adopt the new stage name John Ludi for the next album…as well as leave Minneapolis for the more dynamic city of Chicago.
After only a little over 2 years in Chicago, I was drawn to the East Coast for personal reasons, where I accomplished very little of artistic consequence aside from remixing some of my early releases and laying the bed tracks for my next album.
Rhode Island turned out not to be the scenario I expected, so I returned to Michigan and finished my next album as well as messing about with a few other recording projects.
Release: John Ludi-Rise Above or Fall Below
After 3 or so years back in Michigan, I decided that Chicago was a better place to be economically.
In 2008, I released two albums, one with my old songwriting partner in Soft War, Greg Kutcher, the other by my “Prog Rock” project the Quiet Earth Orchestra.
Release: Soft War-Soft War
Release: The Quiet Earth Orchestra-The Quiet Earth Orchestra
The Quiet Earth Orchestra project in particular garnered a good deal of positive press and online radio play. Sadly, after a month or so of decent sales via CD Baby, the sales plummeted to nothing. I quickly realized that tens of thousands of downloads of the entire album had occurred on torrent sites and, greatly disheartened, I packed the whole musical career in for a few years.
My muse rests discontentedly though, so I released a couple more albums in 2015. I had initially planned on only one album, but wrote too many songs...so I ressurected some of my more "Punkish" tunes for Rage and focused on more subdued songs for Obsolescence.
That muse kept at me for the next few years, so I attempted to satisfy it with my latest release, Mistakes Have Been Made. I consider this one to be the apex of my recording career, frankly. It has all the elements that I most like about my output, and people who are not me seem to like it...once I actually get them to listen to it and all.
Release: John Ludi-Mistakes Have Been Made
Future plans...assuming there IS a future...another instrumental Quiet Earth Orchestra album may be on the horizon, though I'm going to be pushing the current album out there for a while. I want people to hear it and download it and stream it...for free even. All my works. It's why I'm here, as far as I can tell.