When Ludo frontman Andrew Volpe and guitarist Tim Ferrell were ready to get serious, they moved six hours south of their St. Louis hometown to "a 900 square foot ghetto sh*thole" in the illustrious "b

It’s typical for bands ready to break the big-time to relocate to musical epicenters like New York, Los Angeles, maybe Austin or Seattle. When Ludo frontman Andrew Volpe and guitarist Tim Ferrell were ready to get serious, they moved six hours south of their St. Louis hometown to "a 900 square foot ghetto sh*thole" in the illustrious "barren wasteland" of Tulsa, Okla.

"In those other scenes, people wanna move into something to tap the artistic power of the place," Volpe tells Billboard.com. "But we had no distractions. No encouragement. It was a place of perfect psychological anonymity."

Anonymous no more. The well-dressed quintet has peaked at No. 8 so far on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart with a high-tempo, twisted love song "Love Me Dead." The track is culled from their debut full-length for Island "You're Awful, I Love You," released in February and produced by pop-rock engineer Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, Train).

Part of the band's hard-fought gain in popularity came with the its devotion to the road this summer on Warped Tour -- in addition to five previous years of constant touring.

"We just built, built, built over the years, earning as many fans as we could, one fan at a time, until we had something of a fanbase everywhere," Volpe says. "We focused on honing our show. If some industry guy heard our CD or saw a showcase, they might go 'I don't get it.' But if they went to see a show, we could point at a great crowd in any city and go, 'Get it now?'."

Devoted isn't just a word for Ludo's fanbase, but also describes its personnel as well. Ferrell and Volpe moved to Tulsa and grabbed onto keyboardist Tim Convy on the way. In 2003, to fill out the lineup, they distributed a nationwide online ad that demanded potential members to "drop out of school, quit your job, dump your girlfriend and move in with a band." And it worked. Bassist Marshall Fanciullo and drummer Matt Palermo hopped on board.

The group began recording its premiere self-titled debut three weeks later. They also crafted "Broken Bride," a rock opera EP "that's the story of a guy whose wife dies in accident, so he goes back in time in order to change history and ends up fighting dinosaurs and zombies at the apocalypse and stuff."

Considering that effort, plus tracks like "Love Me Dead" ("You're a parasitic, psycho, filthy creature, finger-bangin' my heart/... you're hideous, and sexy!") and "Lake Pontchartrain" (a horror story of the siren cries from the undead of Louisiana) from "You're Awful, I Love You," listeners aren't in for your typical pop-punk songwriting. These geek-rockers hardly shy from sci-fi themes, self-deprication or college humor.

"With a lot of other modern rock, listeners have been bred into thinking 'I need this music to not poke out.' People want things to be vague, like a serious soundtrack to their serious life. That's not what we do," explains Volpe. "Sometimes shit that's funny happens to your big serious life, like slipping on crap on the floor hitting your knee. It's like, 'Sorry sad boy, life is full of ridiculous moments,' beautiful moments. We're not joking around all the time, but I think it's important that we do. This album was a real effort with real music and passion that just so happens to involve pterodactyls."

The band is currently gearing up for a fall tour with Relient K, followed by a headlining stint that will take them through Thanksgiving.