Interview with Leon Todd of Ragdoll
Since 2011 West Australian three-piece RAGDOLL has been working tirelessly to bring their brand of Rock and Roll to audiences at home and overseas. Veterans of US Festivals like Rocklahoma in a short space of time their have seen their reach grow. Featuring the guitar wizadry of Leon Todd, the smooth as honey vocals of Ryan Rafferty and the powergouse drumming of Cam Barrett this is a power trio that creates magic on every stage they step onto!
With an intense desire to inject new life into the music they love; Ragdoll’s mission is to dismantle the sometimes tired genres of Classic Rock, Hard Rock and Progressive Rock and rebuild them, producing a modern hybrid that both transcends and revitalizes the traditional rock genres. The result is a sound thats bombastic and intricate, a sound that is full and brash, leaving many to question how this trio is capable of producing a live sound more akin to that of a five-piece.
The band just released, ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ a compilation of the band’s first two releases (‘Ragdoll Rock’ and ‘Here Today’) plus four live recordings, one of which is a new composition, “Rewind Your Mind.” The trio revisited the first EP and had it remixed and polished the way they had always wanted to hear it. Songs like “Foot to the Floor” sound leaner and meaner while “The Feeling” is even more epic! Any issues the band may have had with the original ‘Here Today’ master have been fully rectified here too; while the new master of “Tell Me” in particular is a lot more dynamic and more true to the original mix.
As the band explains, “We aim to combine the visceral power of classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, the bombastic energy and soaring vocal melodies of Van Halen and the musicianship and songwriting chops of prog rock masters Rush and King’s X. Power, melody and groove!”
Ragdoll guitarist, Leon Todd gave us a call from somewhere on the road in Texas between shows to answer a few questions about the release of ‘Ragdoll Rewound’. Here is what he kindly shared with us..
Q: Ragdoll Rewound a remix/remastered versions of your first two EPs, ‘Here Today’ and ‘Ragdoll Rock’. What were some of things you wanted to change?
Leon Todd: “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We had some issues with the mastering of our second record, ‘Here Today’. That album was just coming out with our first trip to America and we didn’t have time to deal with the issues. And the ‘Ragdoll Rock’ was never released in America. We wanted to put a comprehensive set for folks who saw us last year on our first tour and to give folks who haven’t heard of Ragdoll an introduction.”
Q: What was it like working with Chris Reeve on your video for, “Tell Me”? How did that meeting come about?
Leon Todd: “Working with Chris was fantastic! He’s a good friend of ours, a great drummer as well. He also a great friend of Cam’s. Cam got together with Chris with concept of gathering all these pictures of the last few years we were on the road and we wanted a way to share them with everybody. So, we decided we wanted to put them in a comic book theme. Chris put it together, it was really a short process. We thought Chris nailed it.”
Q: You remixed the songs on ‘Ragdoll Rock’ and shot a new video for, “Tell Me”, what about shooting new videos for your other songs?
Leon Todd: “Yeah, we’ve been talking about that. Basically sound has been based on the rip rocking sounding rock songs. We’ve done three of those, we did, “All I Want”, then we “Break You”, when we got back from the States and now with “Tell Me”. While we write rock and progressive songs we also have a variety of ballad type songs as well. We’ve talking to Chris to a video for, “Could This Be Love”. It’s always been part of our set and has gone over pretty well with the crowds.
Q: What about capturing your latest tour of America on DVD?
Leon Todd: “Cam has been video taping all our shows and I’ve used my GoPro video taping the crowds. We’ve ask for professional film production company to amp up the quality, so we’ve excited about that. I think that it important for a rock band nowadays to provide a multi-media experience. We run our own Facebook page and Twitter and all that social media stuff. You can contact people immediately and that something we love to do.”
Q: You guys have played Rocklahoma not once but three times. What was it like this year?
Leon Todd: “I think this year what we really tried to do it prepare ourselves. The easy part is the playing, thankfully. The hard part is, it’s only the three of us. We drive ourselves around every night. We pack the van every night. We handle all the merchandise. Being prepared for that and to have a system in place is very important. I think we’ve don’t a great job and things have been going very smoothly.”
Q: What’s your favorite song you guys like to cover? (Most recently you guys did, “Holy Diver” by Dio)
Leon Todd: ” We love doing covers. Ragdoll like playing music we like. A big part of us playing live is playing music we love. Two songs that we’ve included in our set are, “Goldilox” by King’s X, an all time favorite of our that went over really well with the crowd. The other song is Led Zeppelin’s, “Immigrant Song”, we love Zeppelin.” Back home, we cut our teeth as a pub rock band touring around Australia. We’re doing our stuff and we’ve done covers of “Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher Cross. Being that we’re from Perth, Australia we’d do Bon Scott AC/DC songs, like “Highway To Hell”. There just great songs to do live.”
Q: Speaking of covers, Thin Lizzy ‘Live and Dangerous’ came out 36 years ago, do you remember when you first heard that record? Have you done any Thin Lizzy covers?
Leon Todd: “Thin Lizzy was the band that actually got me into music. I’m a huge fan of the band. Obviously it’s difficult for us to cover Thin Lizzy because of the dual guitars. To me personally Thin Lizzy is one of my all time favorite bands. Their ‘Live And Dangerous’ was the album that made me want to become a guitar player.”
Q: Where were you when you first heard it?
Leon Todd: “A good friend gave me a copy of ‘Live And Dangerous’ for my thirteenth birthday. He was like, “If check this out, I think you’ll like it.” From there it was pretty much what did it for me. That cover with Phil on his knees and Scott Gorham, I saw that and said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to be!” It was actually that record and AC/DC’s ‘Powerage’, Stevie Ray Vaughn’ s ‘Texas Flood’ and ‘Still Got The Blues’ by Gary Moore.”
Q: What places in America most reminds you of Western Australia?
Leon Todd: “I think it would have to be Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was the dry heat that reminded us of Australia. It was like 100 degrees at midnight (laughs), yeah kind reminded us of home, but we were use to it. “
Q: What’s the difference between the fans from your home town of Perth to the fans of America?
Leon Todd: “There is a huge difference in regards to the fans. That is one of reasons why like coming here. I think it’s because of the concentration of people and the ability to hit different cities night after night. It’s really great for us. Here in the States there are people who love the music and go to shows. Back home the music scene is not that strong.
Q: Are people surprised that you are a trio?
Leon Todd: “Web actually get that a lot. The biggest compliment anybody has ever given us is when people say we sound like four or five piece band. We’re very noisy for three guys, we pride ourselves on that a large part of that is how we arrange songs and writing the right songs. It’s about being ourselves when we play, it’s a challenge but something we definitely pride ourselves on.”
Q: Do you like any of the new bands out there?
Leon Todd: “Yeah, there are a few bands. That one of the great things playing shows we’ve no one you’ve heard before. It might be a local band or it might be a touring band. Bands that will just blow your mind. One band is from California called, Kyng. There super tight and heavy. They write amazing songs. Other bands are Nasty Habit out of New York and Black Tora out of Texas.”
Q: Name your 2 favorite old school rock bands from Australia. Name 2 newer bands that you like from Australia.
Leon Todd: “A huge fan of AC/DC of course. Another band was Southern Sons, that Virgil Donati’s band before he came to the States. Newer band’s, I’d have to say Hailmary who we will be touring with when we get back to Australia. Also Electric Mary out of Melbourne, I saw open for Judas Priest about seven years ago and they blew me away!
Q: Any parting comments?
“We ‘re looking forward to play our last show of the tour in Las Vegas. Cam is really excited about that. We’ll be playing at the Vamp, which we’ve heard nothing but great things about.We want to thank all the people who come out to the shows! We love playing for you guys.”
FOR INFO ON RAGDOLL, Please visit: ragdollrock.com