RAGDOLL – Big Sound From Down Under

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Leon Todd takes a break in Dallas, Texas on his birthday to give the latest update on .  “We’re all kind of mellow this morning.  We were eating breakfast and listening to Allen Parson’s project and talking about the past week’s tour.  We have a day off and it’s nice to be in a big city and I think Cam, Ryan and I will just hang out, see a few sites, grab some food and meet up with a friend later on.  I don’t like to carry on too much as it’s really just another day and we have a show tomorrow night and the next as well and we get to re-charge for those.”

7Z2A1424 appeared on the Australian music scene just a bit over two years ago when Leon Todd and Cam Barrett met via MySpace and decided to jam together, adding Ryan Rafferty soon after.  “Speaking for myself, I have been able to play the guitar most of all my life.  My dad was a musician and guitars were always around, though he never pushed me into playing.  I wasn’t serious until I was about 14.  From there I really didn’t play in a band until I met our drummer Cam.  I would sit at home and record demos in my bedroom and upload them, at the time back in the days of MySpace.  He contacted me through there and said he would like to have a jam together.  We loved all the same music and after joining the band he was in, we became really great friends and looks like we were the only two guys that stuck together.  Ryan has been playing live professionally for over 10 years, doing over a thousand shows with several other bands. I guess this is the first project where he’s been contributing as a writer, being the lead singer and covering the bass.”

This group is definitely involved with every aspect of their business from running their own Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts to being involved with their tour bookings.  The fans they have gained the past two years have realized they have not only found a personable group of guys but have also found a band that has a ‘no holds barred’ type of belief.   “We are very involved with the social media side of things.  We control all the content that goes on there and we feel most of the time it’s for the better.  I mean we’re always on our phones and when people see us at shows and have the personal contact, they really enjoy and appreciate that fact.  As a band, it’s been a little over two years that we have been writing and playing as a trio but it’s only been the last year where we have really started to sound like and develop our own signature sound.  Out of all the compliments and criticism we receive, our sound is something that remains consistent.  People never come up and say we sound like a three piece band; people come up and say, ‘man your band puts out a really big sound and you’re really tight’.  As a band that’s definitely what you want to hear.  I had much rather someone come up to me after a show and tell me the band sounded amazing than them tell me they liked my guitar playing.  I’m not there for a vanity exercise; I’m here for the band and the show.  The three of us contribute to this as a whole and is greater than the sum of the parts.  At the end of the day, it’s a reflection of our personality and we get on very well as three individual human beings.  That is reflected in our sound and comes across as our cohesiveness when we play live, then that’s definitely what we’re chasing and what we want to hear.”

7Z2A7749Since Ragdoll began, reviews and interviews have tried to tag the Ragdoll sound with a genre.  However, Todd feels they do not need a label other than a band that plays great music and puts on a great show.  “Reviews I’ve read are really informative for us, as the person doing the review says they can’t seem to classify our music and what we’re doing.  I feel that is because we as a band don’t really seem to play by the rules as a rock band is supposed to.  We’ll do a three minute rock song and the next may be a progressive pop cross over or even a ballad.  We just try to sound like Ragdoll.  We never go into the studio or rehearsals saying that we want to sound like Van Halen or Guns N Roses; our goal is to sound like Ragdoll.  If that turns people off because they can’t put a label on us, then that’s the least of our concerns.  We are here to sound like us.  We love writing and playing our music and love it even more when people come up to say they enjoyed what they heard.”

America first witnessed Ragdoll at Rocklahoma (ROK) in 2012.  ROK quickly became the rock n’ roll party of Memorial Day weekend and the line-up covering three decades of bands also welcomes today’s rock and new on the scene bands like Ragdoll each year.  “As a touring band, I feel we are still very new to this.  This same time last year we were invited to play Rocklahoma then do a three week club tour, and it was like being plucked from obscurity.  Back home in Perth in Western Australia, it’s the most isolated capital city in the world.  It’s a very small scene and the rock scene is even smaller.  So coming from there and having the chance to come to here and play to hundreds of thousands of people is just amazing.  We probably see more people here in a week than we would in a whole years worth of touring back home, it makes it pretty eye opening.  It was our first time coming to the States and our first show was that Friday night at ROK and starting at the top.  It was an enormous learning experience.  We did ROK and toured across Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas with about ten dates with a couple of festivals and played with THC.  That was a really nice way to finish the tour last year.  Now that we’ve come back we have a more of an extensive show route.  We are now five shows in a look to add several more.  We’ll be hitting several states as we tour up toward Colorado, back down to New Mexico, just touring much of the Midwest as we end back in California.”

7Z2A0986National touring may be new to Ragdoll, but they have staked their claim on several stages and that has given them the opportunity to play with some of their favorite bands such as Queensryche, Guns N Roses, Alice in Chains and Rob Zombie.  “We have played with bands and a lot of people realize have the same elements of sound of what Ragdoll does.  It’s almost like going to school when you get to see bigger bands like that play.  However the bands that impressed me most were some of the independent bands across the Midwest.  The caliber of musicianship across the United States is so much higher and some of these bands we met and toured with are phenomenal.”  Not only did they have the chance to share stages with some of the big names, some of the smaller bands caught their attention and appreciation.  “One of the bands we did a small tour with was a band called Black Tora from Texas.  They are basically the same set up as we are, a three piece group that have an amazing show.  You could put them on any big stage anywhere in the world.”

Looking back on their summer U.S. Tour, Todd states there were so many wonderful memories as he highlights from some of the best moments.  “ROK was a great three days of playing, meeting new fans, catching up from last year and just being a part of the community of bands that played there was awesome.   To top off the weekend, we were invited back the second we stepped off the stage!  We had some fans drive five hours to see us play on a Tuesday night in Topeka, Kansas and two weeks later drove four hours to see us in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  We hiked in the Rocky Mountains on some of our days off and cooked smores over a campfire in Missouri.  It wasn’t all work, as we did take time off to enjoy the sites in America.  One of the biggest moments was playing to a packed house as we opened for Bret Michaels and ended up partying with his band afterwards. That same night we had people drive across three states to see the show which was an amazing show of support for us.”  A definite surreal moment occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a mosh pit broke out during the show.  “It was amazing to feed off that energy, seeing everyone lose themselves in the music.  As for the fans, they are so much more open and willing to participate.  The vibe back home is more on the party level. They go out on Friday night to party and get wasted and if there happens to be a band, then they will listen.  Whereas the attitude here in America, people go out to see live music and if it happens to be a venue that is licensed, then the fans will have a drink.  Seems to be peoples priorities here are a little different and they are not afraid of going out and seeing a band they have never heard before and experience new music.”  As the band drove across the states heading to California, they drove into 117 degree heat in Las Vegas where they played The Cheyenne Saloon.  “The sound man at The Cheyenne had toured with Frank Zappa it was amazing to meet him.  We couldn’t have ended the tour any more special than playing The Roxy in Hollywood and feel to be part of the legacy of the great rock bands that started there.”

Ragdoll - All I want is everythingRagdoll returns to Australia with a homecoming to the release of their new EP All I Want Is Everything.  “The album will be out next month by the time we get back to Australia. We recorded it very similar to the Here Today EP.  Working closely with a good friend of ours, Troy Nababan, we recorded a lot of it at my home studio. We then had it mixed at one the largest studios in Perth and actually had it mastered in New York by Tom Coyne.  We are really, really stoked with the songs and the production and how it’s come out.  We feel that it’s the first record we have done that really 100% represents where we are as a band and gives a good hint as to where we are going musically.  Our video for the title track was released on YouTube and we’ve already had 5000 plus views.  We hope this will album will push us on through to next year.  We’ve already received our third invitation to ROK, so if we can put together another extended tour line up, we would love to come back and even cross through Europe and Asia.  We’ve been told we would go over really well in Europe so it’s exciting to think about what may come.  I know when I first picked up a guitar I had the dream I would eventually go around the world and play and basically entertain people.  That seems to be what we are doing at the moment.  We’re just living show to show and enjoying every one of those moments.”

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