Body Electric’s Frank Ludwig connects with street kids through rock ‘n’ roll


By Steve Newton

“A lot of people figure, ‘Gee, you were in Trooper, you were in Iron Horse. I guess it’s a real snap’. But we’re struggling, I’ll be honest with you–have been for a long time. So it’s really encouraging that people are coming out and saying they like it for what it is, not for what we might have done in the past.”

So says Frank Ludwig, a local rocker who spent several years with one of Vancouver’s most successful bands (he played on four Trooper albums) before teaming up with keyboardist Bob Buckley and guitarist David Sinclair, former members of a promising but sadly overlooked group called Straight LInes. The three joined forces late last year after running into each other during session work at Little Mountain Studios.

Their resultant debut on Attic Records, Body Electric, is a well-played collection of mainstream pop-rock (“Don’t Take Me For a Fool”) and catchy ballads (“Somewhere in Time”). Its basic tracks were recorded at Buckley’s 8-track garage studio, bounced up to 24-track by Ron Obvious at Little Mountain, and then mixed in Buckinghamshire, England at Rupert Hine’s Farmyard Studios.

Since the breakup of Trooper, Ludwig has devoted a good portion of his free time to volunteer work, counseling teenage addicts and runaways. His song “Judy’s In Her Room” deals with teenage abortion, and he expects to pursue the issue of child abuse on a future Body Electric LP.

But doesn’t the singer’s credibility as a rock star cause him to be viewed in a different light than your typical social worker?

“Initially,” he admits. “After a while you’re just another guy, and hopefully a guy they feel they can talk to.

“But kids have grown up with rock and roll, so if you know rock and roll they’re interested. You’ve got a common ground, and from there can go on to something else.”

With the success of their breakthrough Two For the Show album, Ludwig’s former band became one of the first–along with Prism, Loverboy, and Chilliwack–to make Vancouver’s musical presence felt across Canada and in the U.S. But even though he acknowledges the determination of bands like the Payola$ and Villains, he doesn’t think this city’s current music scene is much help to other original bands trying to break out.

“It’s always amazed me that some very creative bands have come out of Vancouver, because the town itself is really restrictive. You don’t have that many clubs, and they’re all expecting Top 40. When times get tight, people get cautious–and that’s not rock and roll. Rock and roll is supposed to be living on the edge.

“I mean, that’s one of the reasons I got working with street kids. There’s more rock and roll working with street kids than there ever was playing four sets of other people’s stuff.”

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