The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
RAGDOLL-LEON-TODD-INTERVIEW-2015

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2015 - RAGDOLL GUITARIST AND SONG-WRITER LEON TODD

RAGDOLL'S LEON TODD TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

RAGDOLL IS ONE OF THE FINEST HARD ROCK BANDS IN AUSTRALIA AT THE MINUTE, BUT BEING FROM THE WORLD'S MOST REMOTE CITY ISN'T ALWAYS EASY: WE TALK TOURING, AUSTRALIA, THE ROAD TO ROCKLAHOMA AND THE MEANING OF LIFE...

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF 'RAGDOLL REWOUND' HERE

Ragdoll is a band you need to hear if you love passionate Hard Rock, melding huge power with equally towering melody they sound like nothing else. Imagine Soundgarden growing up on the Suset Strip of the 80's and you get the idea... We caught up with guitarist Leon Todd to find all about what's new: new songs, new dates,new releases... read on...


Many thanks for talking to The Rockpit today Leon. You’ve again been announced as appearing for the fourth year running at The Premiere US Festival Rocklahoma – what’s the feeling like to know you have a home away from home just outside of Tulsa?

 

Amazing. Our first ever show outside of our home state of Western Australia was in Tulsa,
and we instantly fell in love with the people, the places and the food. It really does feel like home.

Over the last four years you’ve seen a lot of big bands on the bill over there who have been the most
memorable and inspiring so far, and who are you looking forwards to this year?

 

It’s funny, in 2012 I saw my favourite band ever at the festival, Queensryche, at what turned out to be their last ever show with Geoff Tate. That really showed me how not to treat your fans and how not to respect an audience, which is a real shame to have to admit. In terms of amazing shows though, Rob
Zombie, Twisted Sister, Chickenfoot, Kix, Guns’n’Roses...the list goes on!


This year I can’t wait to check out a few of the newer bands; Crobot, Starset and In This Moment
as well some of the stalwarts who always put on a great show, like Black Tora, Lynam, Nasty Habit
and Dellacoma.

 

Before that you have a home town show in March and a local Festival too, tell us about those dates?


We’re playing a special festival for the environment, just north of Perth called Kinetic Dreaming.
It’s a three day arts and music festival with a lot of electronic music and art pieces; we’re pretty
much the only rock band and we headline the Sunday night, so it should be pretty wild.


We have a few shows in Perth in March including a show with an upcoming Sydney band called
The Shadow Embrace, Friday the 13th of March at the Civic Hotel. We’re also opening up for Uriah
Heep at the Astor Theatre March 24th, which I’m over the moon about! We have a tour fundraiser
in April and a send off show in May before we hit the states for a few weeks in late May.


I guess the big question after last year’s ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ is what new material do you have up
your sleeve for us?

 

We’ll be entering the studio in late February to record a single and cut a new music video, which should drop early May. We’d pretty much been on the road, internationally and throughout regional Australia, since May 2012 right up to the launch of Ragdoll Rewound in August 2014, so it’s nice to have had some down time.


The ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ release collected the best of your previous material and either remastered or
remixed it to bring it up to date, how do you feel those songs fared and how would you categorise
the sound of Ragdoll 2015?


I feel it came out fantastic. We felt our older material needed to be brought up to the same
production standard as our later releases, and I feel we achieved that. The album shows a
steady development in terms of writing but also now sounds like a cohesive whole from a sonic
standpoint.


I’d say Ragdoll really straddles the boundary between classic and modern; one term I like is “hair
grunge”; the aggression and attitude of the early 90s coupled with the melody and bombast of the
late 80s. A walking, talking contradiction!

 

Three young Aussies on tour in the US must bring up all kinds of stories and memories, what have
been some of the best so far?

 

All I can say is you never know who your true friends are until you’ve got to sleep in a tiny hotel room, three to a bed. I’m talking about three dudes too...


Tell us about the rest of the US jaunt, any dates confirmed so far? Where can we see you?


We’ll be announcing dates in March, but I can already say Rocklahoma, Vegas, Texas and even LA
are on the cards.


Will you be bringing out a new release before you set off to whet the appetite?

 

Yes, we aim to have a new single and video out by then.


Back home you’ve also been announced as local support to British Rock Legends Uriah Heep that
must be a thrill to play with a band with such a place in Rock’s history?

 

It’s totally surreal. Not only one of my personal favourite bands, but one of my bucket list venues in Perth to play. Bring it on!

 

So for a seasoned road warrior what are the worst and best aspects of touring overseas?

 

I love seeing new places, meeting new people and playing music to appreciative audiences. The only
downside is I feel like I’m closer to diabetes every time I enter the USA!

 


For those not already in the know how would you categorise the Ragdoll sound?

 

Hair grunge; big riffs and grooves, powerful melodic vocals and lots of guitar histrionics. All the stuff you like about rock music with none of the stuff you don’t! If you like Rush, Kings X, Van Halen and Soundgarden you’ll probably like us.

 


You’ve already played alongside some great musicians – who has been the most inspiring so far?

 


We got to hang out with dUg Pinnick (Kings X) and have dinner with him in LA last year; he’s my
hero! We spent hours picking his brain and hearing some amazing stories, and he really helped put
a lot of things in perspective. Loving what you do, playing from the heart and always striving to be
the best version of yourself.

 


What keeps you going as a musician?

 

Funnily enough, dUg Pinnick said something like this“People always tell me how great I am and how much they love my music. Well, I’ve written over 1000 songs and never had a hit, so maybe I’m not that great and I should keep on trying”. I’m nowhere near as prolific or talented as that guy, so I better keep moving on fast if I’m going to get anywhere!

 


What piece of music you have created most defines you as a band?

 

“All I Want” is definitely our party piece; that song really took on a life of it’s own when we started playing it live. I’ve crowd surfed while playing that song on guitar, I’ve seen girls start fights in mosh pits to it and I’ve used it as the soundtrack to many nefarious activities.

 


Who is your most enduring influence as a guitarist?

 

I’ve spent my whole life around guitars, so to be honest it’s probably my dad. He’s a great player, an amazing luthier and a big influence on me as a human being. Ty Tabor and Alex Lifeson, both being sole guitarists in power trios, would be up there too!

 


What is your most disgracefully rock and roll moment so far. One where you thought to yourself ‘OK
so this also happens in Rock and Roll’?

 

I once walked in on a guy taking a dump backstage at a show once. Why don’t people ever lock doors at venues?!

 

 

If you could compose with anyone living or dead who would it be?

 

Kip Winger. Hopefully I could pick up some dance moves, refine my 5 o’clock shadow and write some tasty tunes.

 


What are your plans for the rest of 2015?

 

The big goal is to write, record and release another EP or LP. We’ll also be hitting the regional circuit in WA hard here and hope to hit the east coast of Australia for the first time.

 


Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed
to be in a Rock and Roll band?

 

Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous album made me dream about being in a band. That album changed everything for me.

 


From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a
musician?

 

I’m lucky to do music full time, whether it’s Ragdoll, as a guitar teacher or as a fill in musician in working covers bands. The golden rule is; never sleep with the female lead singer. Ever.

 


If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just
to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?

 


Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe album. Genius.

 


What is the meaning of life?

 

To give life meaning.

 


RAGDOLL DATES (SO FAR)


1st March 2015 Kinetic Dreaming Festival Bindoon WA
13th March Civic Hotel Perth WA
24th March Astor Theatre w/Uriah Heep Perth WA
29th March Muchea Youth Festival Perth WA
18th April Civic Hotel Perth (Tour Fundraiser) WA
9th May 459 Bar North Perth WA
23rd May 2015 Rocklahoma Pryor OK

 

 

Scott spoke to Mark Rockpit, February 2015

 

 

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