Alexander Ludwig. Photo Credit: Daniel Delgado Jr.
Acclaimed actor and musician Alexander Ludwig (“The Hunger Games” and “Vikings”) chatted about his new studio album “Highway 99.” It was released on August 26 via BBR Music Group/BMG.
The album consists of 16 tracks that tell universal stories about small towns, wild nights, broken hearts, and big dreams, juxtaposed with a mix of amplified guitars, catchy choruses, and gripping hooks.
“It is such a weird thing making a transition from one thing to another,” he said. “I am actually surprised how positive the response has been. Music is my life and what I grew up with and I am so grateful that the opportunity presented itself.”
This musical effort was written and recorded in Nashville during breaks in his busy filming schedule. Simply put, “Highway 99” is the sound of a longtime musician reflecting on the genre that has captivated him most of his life.
The lead single “Faded On Me” blends country storytelling with rock and roll energy, finding a balance between old-school twang and modern muscle. “I am so grateful that the country community has welcomed me with open arms,” he said.
A follow-up to his 2021 self-titled EP and career-launching 2020 single “Let Me Be Your Whiskey,” “Highway 99” was inspired by the classic (Alan Jackson and George Strait) and contemporary (Kenny Chesney and Eric Church) sounds Ludwig grew up with. “Kenny Chesney has always been a ‘north star’ for me and somebody that I have always admired. He is a tremendous performer live and his voice is very nostalgic and his songs are feel-good, and I really love that,” he said.
The album was produced by Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, two distinguished songwriters who have penned Grammy-nominated hits with other album collaborators including Nashville heavy hitters David Lee Murphy and Michael Dulaney; moreover, Jesse Tucker, who had given Ludwig his first guitar lessons in Canada as a kid, became the leader of his touring band.
On his personal favorite songs, he responded, “I’ve heard all of these songs so many times, I just can’t wait to do the next album. ‘Let Me Be Your Whisky’ will have a special place in my heart because it was the first song that I ever wrote in Nashville. I love performing ‘Rough Around The Edges’ live, that’s a really fun one to start a concert with. ‘Like She Wanted To’ is a very bittersweet song that I am really proud of as well.”
A songwriter since the age of 12, Ludwig grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Every weekend, he would venture into the Canadian backcountry with his family, making the trip up Highway 99 to his family’s cabin on Whistler Mountain.
Those drives were filled with music, and it was there while gazing out the window as the car pulled away from the Pacific Ocean coastline and headed toward the snow-capped peaks that he fell in love with country music.
Ludwig acknowledged that it is a dream come true for him to be a part of the BBR Music Group/BMG. “To be a signed artist and to release my first album is an amazing feeling,” he said. “It is still surreal to me and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“I feel the responsibility to give everything I can to make sure every piece of work we put out is stellar because that is why I am doing this. I love the grind and I want that,” he said.
The digital age
On being an actor in the digital age, he said, “Honestly, it is really strange. Things seemed a lot simpler back in the day. Now, there is so much content everywhere. I already feel I succeeded in the fact that I get to write music and record it, and that is a win for me. You want as many people as possible to hear it.”
‘The Hunger Games’
He opened up about his experience in “The Hunger Games.” “I will always be grateful for ‘The Hunger Games’ because that set it all off for me,” he reflected. “That was the thing that really put me on the map. That was such a sensation and it united so many people. It was really amazing to be a part of that, it was wild and I will always be so grateful for that.”
On the title of the current chapter of his life, he responded, “Routine.” “I am really just trying to master that,” he admitted. “My life is so crazy, I am always traveling and never in one place. I am just dialed on having a routine that I can do that can keep me happy no matter where I am, that’s the most important thing.”
Latest and upcoming acting projects
In addition to working on new music, the well-rounded entertainer stars in the STARZ TV series “Heels,” which is currently in production for its second season.
Most recently, Ludwig can be seen alongside Uzo Aduba and J.K. Simmons in STX’s college sports drama “National Champions.” “I am very excited, I found out that ‘National Champions’ is now on Showtime,” he said. “I’m really proud of that film, it’s an awesome movie.”
He will also star in Guy Ritchie’s movie “The Interpreter” for MGM and Amazon. “It will be coming out sometime next year so that will be great. I got to work with Guy Ritchie on that and he is one my all-time favorite directors, so that was amazing,” he said.
Dream duet choices in music
Ludwig listed Lainey Wilson, Shania Twain, and Dolly Paton as his dream female duet choices in music. “There are so many talented artists out there,” he said. “I would love to get a good duet, for sure.”
Advice for hopefuls in entertainment
For young and aspiring actors and artists, he said, “You have to fall in love with the process. You need to enjoy the process of doing it. You need to fall in love with the actual art. It has to be because you love telling stories and you want to unite the world, and trust that the rest is going to come. Persistence is going to take you all the way.”
“Enjoy the highs and know that the highs will pass, and the lows will pass, and that’s the fun of life,” he added.
In his personal life, Ludwig is an avid outdoorsman – from competing in extreme freestyle ski competitions on Whistler Mountain to surfing the California coast, and even white shark diving in the Guadalupe.
If he were to have any superpower, it would be “to fly” and that would be a “blast” for him. “My favorite thing in the world to do is travel so to fly would be so great,” he explained.
Ludwig defined the word success as “joy and internal peace.” “If you can find internal peace and joy in your life, then you are unstoppable,” he said. “The irony is that the person that enjoys the journey will walk further than the person that enjoys the destination.”
“Highway 99” is available on digital service providers by clicking here. “I want the fans to feel like they are on this journey with me,” he concluded about his new music.
Review: Alexander Ludwig shines on his new country album “Highway 99“