INTERVIEW: Randy Ludwig, singer-guitarist-songwriter for Dizzy Box Nine
How would you classify your music?
Our music is straightforward pop-rock. When people ask me to name bands we sound like, I think the closest description I can come up with is the following: Think Tom Petty meets Train, on the way to a Blink 182 concert. That’s one way to think of it.
Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?
This is a challenging question as there have been many! I can’t deny the influences of super melodic and poppy bands such as Sugar Ray and the Cars. Then of course there are the punchy and dynamic bands such as Blink 182 and MXPX. When they are at their best, it’s something to experience. Other bands such as The Refreshments, Local H, The Dead Milkmen, The Kinks, The Cure, Enanitos Verdes, and Maná have also left their mark. And, then, there is the master songwriter Tom Petty. Not many do it better than him. Those are just a few. But I am definitely a fan of all good music, representing a variety of genres, from rap to rock, hip-hop to punk, and even country. There are several country songs on the radio these days that are just super catchy, even after just the first listen.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
I hope our listeners experience music that is uplifting, melodic, and relates to them on many levels. To me. the perfect song is instantly catchy—something that you want to just listen to over and over again. And then, 20 years later, it still sounds great! That’s a special song. That’s a special experience. Fortunately for all of us, some artists manage to pull this off. Such songs are timeless. They trigger memories that immediately allow us to experience a form of time travel—a shift back to the moments in which you originally lived and grew with these songs.
What is the best concert you have been to?
I’ve been to my share of great concerts. I was at Motley Crue’s last concert ever, at Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2015. They put on quite a show. I was hesitant to leave at the end. It was so powerful. I just wanted to take it all in. I wanted to absorb every second of this experience. They ended with “Home Sweet Home”, and Vince Neil couldn’t quite finish the song, as he was so emotional. That band is truly special. You have to admire that talent—that persistence. Other great shows I’ve experienced have been from the following bands: Local H, Enanitos Verdes, Maná, Belle & Sebastian, Blink 182, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Sweet Water, and 21 Pilots.
What’s the best song ever written?
The Cure “Just Like Heaven”. Every time I hear this song on the radio I tell myself, “Dang, I wish I could’ve written that song!” It’s such a complete song from start to finish. It just captivates you—the way the keys enter, the way the lead guitar comes in—the way Robert Smith nails the vocals. It’s totally complete. I always wished they would’ve added an extra chorus to the song, because I just loved how it felt when the chorus came in. Like, that song would come on the radio, and then next thing you know, it’s over! I’m like, “No! Come back! I want to keep listening!” In those days you couldn’t just YouTube it, you had to wait for it to come back on the radio. That song came out in like 1987, and it still sounds just as good, if not better, today. That was the first song I ever played live. I was like in 7th or 8th grade, playing at my friend’s pool party in his backyard. Those were some good times.
Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
I wrote over 50 songs that were considered for this record. But in the end, only 12 made it. And, to me, all 12 are special in their own way. However, if I had to highlight a few, I would say there’s something appealing about “Open Up To Me”. I love the synthesizer during the chorus. I love poppy songs like that–songs that are guitar-driven, but also catchy and poppy. I also love how “Oh Yeah!” sounds, especially on loud speakers. It’s a pretty catchy song, and I think many people can relate to feeling that way when they first meet that special someone—that person who makes them feel like that. “When I Look At You” just feels good to listen to. It just kind of flows. It has something for everyone. And finally, “Samantha” is pretty special. It wasn’t written with any one person in mind, it was more of an idea. Of true love gone awry—of lost potential—of feeling underappreciated, yet hopeful. Of feeling forced into a decision you didn’t really want to make—and then immediately regret it. And, the guitar solo at the end is really inspiring. It speaks volumes without words. You can feel what it’s telling you. And, the guitar solo basically wrote itself. There was really no planning with that solo. It just kind of appeared out of thin air. It only took like 3 or 4 takes. It came so naturally. Every time I hear it, I get chills. It’s my favorite part of the song for sure.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been told?
Never be intimidated by anyone. You’re just as good as they are.
What’s next for you?
I hope to keep growing as an artist and challenging myself. I already have about 30 new songs written for consideration for the next record. I can’t wait to start recording. And, I have this idea for a country song that turns pop—halfway through the song. It’s just for fun. It might not make the record, but it’s a fun song to play—at least the initial versions of it are. It’d also be nice to get the band on a few of these late night shows, and to just keep writing, recording, and playing live.