Issue No 17

Big City Country

BY Kaitlyn Parks

The Ludlow Thieves are a rife bunch of talented musicians and all-around creative people. They've got a big wide open sound grounded by classic rock, folk, gospel and a twinge of country.

Despite the fact that their stomping ground is the biggest concrete jungle in the world, they've got Nashville seeping from their pores like steam from the subway grates on a hot hot day. Their music makes you want to take the first train Upstate, take off your clothes and run through a grassy open field. Or kneel down in an old country chapel and pray.

When Dan Teicher's great grandparents got off the boat from eastern europe, they settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The next generation moved to the outer boroughs, and the following generation moved to the suburbs. Dan's generation somehow reclaimed that original area in the Lower East Side again, thus inspiring the band's name, The Ludlow Thieves, "It's a little bit about reclaiming your history and putting your roots in context." says Dan.

Dan founded the band with singer/songwriter Danny Musengo after he'd been performing solo for some time and was looking to partner with a singer who could really deliver. After putting the word out that he was looking for a voice "that sounded like Rod Stewart on two packs of smokes" he found Danny. Now, The Ludlow Thieves are a powerhouse of six: Dan Teicher, Danny Musengo, Walk Adams, Molly Fletcher, Isamu McGrego and Laura Martin.

To keep it all straight for you, I've asked Dan to give us a dating-site style one-liner for each:

Dan Teicher
Guitarist/writer/producer, lactose intolerant, makes out with Laura

Danny Musengo
Singer/writer/street-artist who loves yoga in Iowa

Walk Adams
Drummer, hippie, splendid conversationalist

Molly Fletcher
Violinist, model and fun-loving free spirit.

Isamu McGrego
Keyboardist, bearded and East meets West

Laura Martin
Singer, art director, and lover of all things cats

Kaitlyn Parks: What is your dynamic like as a team? How do you work together?

The Ludlow Thieves: It is constantly evolving. The band began with Danny singing my material, then we started to collaborate on writing. Danny and I have a really good dynamic in respecting each other's visions for a song while welcoming the other's opinion. Sometimes, Danny and I bring in songs to the band and sometimes we have very specific arrangements in mind; other times, we just have skeletons and want everyone to throw all their ideas in a pot. 

Now that we have a full unit, every opinion is really valuable in sculpting the sound and contributing to what the song ends up being. Molly (violin) tends to have a really great ear for space and the arc of a song, while Isamu (keyboards) can sculpt each line to work with the other parts. Laura (vocals) is a perfect counterpart to Danny's rasp, and she has an amazing ear for harmony. And Walker is just one of the most creative drummers around.

The bottom line, though, is that we have a lot of fun together. We are all really grateful to have found each other, we like being together and partying together and I think you can hear how much fun we have.

KP: Tell us about your up-coming EP.

TLT: The last recordings we did were before we had the full lineup, so this feels like our first real presentation of the band. We tried to build on our live sound by making a really huge sounding record without losing the intimacy of the songs.  Like Andre the Giant whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Or something.

The two songs we have coming out as singles are from different eras of the band; "To Travel" was one of the first songs Danny and I worked on together to see if we could, or should be, in a band together, and it's been a staple of our live show. "World Completely" is a new song to our set and one that Danny had in his back pocket for a long time. The whole band collaborated in piecing together the arrangement, and we can't fucking wait for people to hear it!

KP: What are your musical influences?  What are your non-musical influences (art, places, people)?

TLT: With a six member band, that list is going to be pretty long. Musically, we have a jazz pianist, a classically trained violinist, a gospel singer, a jazz schooled drummer and a classical composer floating in the band, but I think we aim for Zeppelin. Molly actually sums it up nicely: Jimi Hendrix and Brahms.

And outside of music, Molly is a fashion model, Danny does street art, Laura is a graphic designer. Everyone in the band just eats art all day.

KP: What's the most challenging part of your musical process? What's your favorite part?

TLT: I think each member of the band would say different things. I think if we had to vote on it, our favorite part would be performing. Getting sweaty with your friends on a stage and seeing the audience sing along is unbelievable. 

Rehearsing can be tough. Actually, just scheduling rehearsals is tough. Wrangling six busy musicians into a room is like herding cattle. Once we are in there, it's a blast.

KP: Is there a recent show or venue you've played that stands out?

TLT: Our last few shows have been great. We love playing Bowery Ballroom, but recently, we played Brooklyn Bowl on a Sunday night when the L train from Manhattan was down during a storm. We were kind of bummed, thinking that no one would be able to make it from Manhattan. It turns out that we had a packed room, and we played our best show in a while. We were having so much fucking fun. The sound was great, the energy was great… we loved it.

KP: Are you signed to a label?  Thoughts on the current industry and the function of labels?

TLT: Oh, man. We are not signed to a label yet. And we have so many thoughts on the current industry, but the truth is that no one knows what is cooking. If you are a label's priority, they are great. If you aren't, they can be death traps. Who knows. It's tough trying to turn your passion into your livelihood, but that's the dream, right?

KP: What's in store for 2014?

TLT: Man oh man. We are so stoked for this year. We are going to release this EP, we are going to try to find some great tour mates or acts to open for, we are going to play a ton, record more, and just enjoy the hell out of making music together.