With his debut single “Let Me Be Your Whiskey,” Bad Boys for Life co-star Alexander Ludwig has officially thrown his hat into the country music ring — but the actor is adamant this isn’t a case of “Hollywood-bigshot-goes-to-Nashville.” And in a video premiering exclusively on Sounds Like Nashville today (February 18), fans can get a look at what Ludwig’s new role has in store.
Famous for also bringing memorable characters like Cato in The Hunger Games and Bjorn Ironside from Vikings to life, the Vancouver, Canada, native says he literally grew up loving country music, so his interest in plainspoken poetry comes honestly.
“I spent a lot of time in the mountains and I grew up playing hockey, and it was just the thing we always listened to in the hockey dressing rooms,” Ludwig explains. “A lot of people don’t realize that there’s actually a huge country music vibe in Canada.”
Ludwig wasn’t just a listener, though, he’s been writing his own songs since the age of 12. But with a busy acting career which also included spots in Grown Ups 2, Lone Survivor and more, he only had time to record a few demos here and there — or maybe grab a spur-of-the-moment pub gig in between Vikings shoots in Ireland. But once that show wrapped up filming its final season, Ludwig realized he had some time to explore his musical passion.
“After Vikings, it was my first real breath I had where I could do it, and I never wanted to be that Hollywood guy who shows up and expects all of this stuff,” he says. “That’s not how I wanted to go about it. I wanted to go to Nashville and learn what it takes to write a great song from the ground up.”
Soon the promising talent was making monthly trips to Music City, and one day at the airport Ludwig bumped into “some guys dressed all in black” looking to express their appreciation for his acting. Those guys turned out to be Jason Aldean band members Tully Kennedy and Kurt Allison, and after explaining why he was in Nashville, the hit makers agreed to teach him the ropes.
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“I always felt like I could write a catchy song, but it was only when I got to Nashville that I realized how much I had to learn,” Ludwig admits. “It’s just that naivety that hits you in the face pretty hard with anything in life — just like with acting. You think you know, but then you get into the thick of it and realize what it actually takes to be great. … I wanted them to know I wasn’t just some Hollywood guy coming and expecting songs or a record deal, it wasn’t like that. It’s just a passion for me, and whatever happens, it doesn’t matter because I love the music.”
With a style rooted in the organic sounds he grew up with — he cites stars like George Strait and Kenny Chesney as early influences — Ludwig’s first single seems to show his intentions are honorable. “Let Me Be Your Whiskey” features windblown sonics and the timeless tenderness of a hopeless romantic, plus his expressive pure-country vocal (which may actually remind listeners of a young Chesney). But maybe more importantly, it also proves that Ludwig’s already learned one of the most important lessons in country songwriting — it’s gotta be true.
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My first single is now on @spotify and all other platforms. Link in bio. For those of you who know me, country music has been a huge part of my life. For the last year I have been making trips to Nashville writing and learning all I can. Thank you to my incredible team/producers @tullykennedy and @kurtallison for helping me on this new journey! I hope you like the music as much as I love making it. More to come in the next few months so watch out! For now, this is – let me be your whiskey! On #newboots #wildcountry #breakoutcountry playlists on @spotify now! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR THE LOVE AND SUPPORT and special shout out to @bubbaradio where I first played it! Shout out do #Johnmarks and @colleenjohnmarkswife for believing in me words cannot describe my gratitude!Also last but absolutely not least HUGE thank you to the incredible @jasonaldean for the support. Means the world coming from a hero of mine for so long. Vid coming soon 😎🤙🏻
“I came in with the idea that we all have these medications that we take to make ourselves feel better, but I can be that for you — you don’t have to keep searching for other stuff,” Ludwig explains. “I’ve had my own substance-abuse issues and I’ve been sober for a few years now, but for much of my life I found myself constantly trying to validate myself outwardly instead of inwardly, and I think this song is really special because it was like ‘I can be that for you, you don’t have to search anymore.’”
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“Let me be your whiskey” now on #newboots playlist! Cannot thank #johnmarks and everyone @spotify for supporting me on this new journey enough.. I’ve been listening and loving this playlist for so long it’s crazy to now be on it. Thank you for the love! And thank you for believing in me and the song! @colleenjohnmarkswife ❤️ Link in bio
Filmed in the studio while Ludwig and his team were finishing the song and getting it recorded, Ludwig says the Jordan-Smith directed clip offers a glimpse of what this journey has been like. But even for a seasoned actor, there was something different about sharing his musical heart and soul onscreen, as opposed to portraying someone else.
“I felt very vulnerable, and it makes you want to puke sometimes — but all of that is just ego,” he says. “At the end of the day with film and music, it’s amazing when people can connect to it and it’s the greatest feeling in the world when people love what you do … but that’s not why you do it. At the end of the day, I’m doing this because I love it.”
More new music is on the way in the next few months, and Ludwig has plans to record an entire album with Kennedy and Allison behind the controls. He’d also love to book a small concert tour (“If they’ll have me,” he jokes), but first he’s headed back to his day job. Luckily, Ludwig’s next gig is about Georgia’s independent wrestling scene and will be filmed in Atlanta, so he can make frequent trips to Nashville and finish his most-personal performance to date.