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Paul Ludenia (2014)

Written by Randy Patterson

Posted June, 2014

paulludenia2014Photo by DE AngleAs I write for Boomerocity, it’s not an unusual occurrence to receive unsolicited CDs in the mail for me to review. Since I only write positive reviews, if I don’t like what I hear in those CDs, I just won’t write about them. I figure there’s enough negativity in the world that I don’t need to add to it.

Since that time, we’ve become good friends. He’s even been a tremendous help in the new look of the Boomerocity website through his business, Imagine Images. I also take every chance I get to plug his appearances in the Phoenix area, hopefully making friends and readers aware of the amazing talent he possess.Paul lives, eats and breathes music. He started his music career in Minnesota because, by his own admission, to attract girls. When I called him up for this interview, I asked him how that worked out for him.

As Ludenia’s musical skills improved, he and his bands opened for ever more popular artists and performing before ever larger crowds.“We had a bunch of great shows as far as out of town things go. For about eight years of my first twelve years in music I was pretty much on the road 200 to 250 days a year doing week long stays all over the upper Midwest – maybe to as far as Montana and as far down as Nebraska. That’s what we would do. We’d hit every town in a van and our production truck would follow us. We’d get there on a Sunday or Monday and then play Tuesday through Saturday.

“So, I remember little things like that but, of course, looking out at a sea of people was always a pretty amazing thing to be able to touch that many people at once. Always amazing!”

Paul paid his dues by playing in lots of different bands and in lots of different kinds of venues.  He ultimately took a detour in order to provide for his lovely bride and pursued entrepreneurship.  I asked Paul if he thought he was out of music for good when he made that decision.

“So, yes, I did stop music, planning not to play anymore. That was it. I was going to go down this graphics design path which I had already done for the band for years – all my bands. I made the logos and did all the things that graphic design was and I’m, like, ‘Oh! That’s a career! Okay!’ So I fell into that and it came so easy and financially fruitful that it was just an easy choice. I’m, like, ‘Okay. I’m done with that (music). We’re going to move on and do this (graphic design).

“I remember going to Best Buy every week to buy the latest CDs – as much as I could afford, I would buy.  I always dreamed of having a job like yours, Randy, where people would send me music and I would get to peruse it and enjoy it. I just want everything. I want to hear everything.

No that the small venue scene can be very inconsistent, I have observed that Paul is always booked on prime nights in very good venues in the Phoenix area and enjoys a loyal following. I asked him how that was working out for him.“I think that I can harken back to my quitting music and doing my business for ten years. I got to learn business – true business. Music can be a real hot mess as far as business goes. It can get kinda lawless out there. People sayin’ just whatever. Being in business, you’ve gotta put up or get out of the way. Just like with you and everyone else, people want their stuff done. It’s going to cost a certain amount. You’ve got to keep a good reputation. If you don’t, it’s going to spiral down and you’re not going to have a business and then what do you have?

“So, I started there and I thought, ‘Well, at least they can’t fire me because I’m being late or anything like that.’ Then, I just kept doing my thing. What I would do is listen to the people. When they told me this is the cover they want me to play or, ‘this is the original song I want you to play’, they go on my list of songs and that would be my song list for guests to choose from – like a human jukebox. I didn’t pick my list of now over two hundred songs – everything from rap to country to metal to rock – anything - they picked them. I think that’s a big thing.

“So, I’m kind of different that way, in that, I like all of the different genres. I like to play them all. I like to shock people when I play Michael Jackson right after playing Stone Temple Pilots. You’d be surprised how many people like that variety – that sort of, ‘Let’s celebrate music’ instead of, ‘Let’s celebrate seventies hard rock’ or something like that. It’s too small of an audience. That’s what I do. I let it all out there, let them decide the songs. I play for them and I tend to get a following because of it and I hope one of the reasons people come out to my shows, whether solo, duo, trios or full rock band, that we’re so positive, trying to be nice to each other and create an environment of no stress. We’re just entertaining, getting your mind off of the craziness out there. We don’t want to add to that. We want to take that away.”I asked Paul if he found that, when he goes from Phoenix area venues like Murphy’s Law or Sages, that he does have a following that he sees at all of the places he plays.

When I asked Paul just how well does music and his business, Imagine Images Design " width="240" height="120" allowtransparency="no">Studios, coexists for him, personally, he said, “I’m not sure there are many other avenues I could take to have that sort of double business. I’ve heard some guys do real estate sales because of the flex hours and that kind of thing.  But the one thing that I get that helps so much is everything I do in my business transposes over to my band and my music.

“That was the goal. I got those songs recorded and all it did was fuel me to want to do the next thing and keep writing. One thing led to another to where I am today. I still take lessons and try to get better. I’m never happy with the final output. I want better. How can I make it my best? I don’t even know if I’m going at it for people’s approval or just my own, to be honest, because I feel that I’m definitely my own worst critic.  But, then, this album has been interesting in that I’ve been able to – with “Karma Come”.

“So, with “Karma Come”, it’s been eye-opening as to how powerful music is and what you can actually do to get people behind a good cause. In this case, making folks aware, in hopes of reducing, Intimate Partner Violence.

“So, just to go from a guy who’s out of music – doesn’t play anymore and is just doing graphic design and to think how that has morphed to become what it is today. I just could’ve never imagined it. I really couldn’t. Even talking about it right now I’m like, ‘Wow!’ It blows me away!”

“It reminded of the first one in the sense that it is just me, for the most part. By now, I kinda ‘got it’. I’m less worried about how I manipulate the tools and more about the focus on the song and writing itself. It felt easier, this time, to be able to accomplish what I’m thinking. I think it has a lot to do with doing it myself. The second album, “Twenty Ten Again”, I spent three months with a guy – he was doing all the tracking. He had the computer and the software and knew how to use it. I gave him a bunch of money and we got about three months in and he stopped. I didn’t get any of the files. I didn’t get my money back. I had to start all over. I ended up doing that one by myself but it was the third time I had recorded that album. It was the worst experience but it’s led me to do things on my own. I don’t need that kind of help anymore and that’s pretty powerful!

In response to my question as to how long BOOM! took for him to record, he said, “I’m going to say about six months. You can listen to, ‘Life Got In The Way’, for an explanation about that because I could’ve definitely done it sooner but life gets in the way and I physically don’t have time to go into my studio and write/record sometimes. Again, it was easy. I had a bunch of songs to pull from and it was just a matter of picking which ones I wanted to finish up. But six months was about it.”

“Maggie is the lady’s name. She is a fifty year old, super kind-hearted lady and successful in business but she always struggled – as many do – with love. From what Maggie tells me, she just hasn’t had it true love before. When you’re out in the bars as much as I am, you see a lot of that and how people are so desperate for love. I’m very lucky that I’ve had that my whole life but I can imagine how tough it could be.

“I can’t even tell you now the pain that I felt immediately. I texted my wife, ‘Can you go on Facebook and make sure that I’m reading this right? Is this what really happened?’ Sure enough, it did! She (Maggie) came back with some broken bones and a bruised face and body but was thankful to be alive. She didn’t think that she was going to make it. He ran off and she came back to town with the kids right away and they were trying to find him. While that was going on, I wrote a song to him. That’s what the song is about. It was my feelings of ‘How could you do this? How could you be in love and do this?’ But also, ‘How could you shake my hand and then use that hand to beat her?’ I just wanted to take back all that love I had given him because he didn’t deserve it. Anyone who would do that is not worthy. This song is really about my feelings and about how I feel towards him. I think “Who cares about what I feel towards him?” because that’s not the point at all but that was my emotion coming out and is why I wrote the song. She tells me that she looks to this song for guidance and strength. I could’ve never imagined that that song would’ve affected anyone that way, much less my friend, Maggie.”

“I’m going to keep pressing and doing what I do. I like the old days when the bands would pump out an album about every year, if they can do it. I want to be that guy. I would also like to get a little more into helping others write. I’ve helped some others and it’s really gratifying. But I’m just going to keep pressing, doing what I do. I would like to make enough waves that maybe someday a label would come calling but, at the same time, be strong enough to say, ‘You know, I don’t know if I need you guys’. That might be the best route. It might not be the most fruitful but it might be. I don’t know.”