Australia and rock n’ roll have gone hand in hand for decades – AC/DC, Jet, and Wolfmother (among countless others) have all hailed from the land down under. And the continent has another hard rocking contender on their hands, Ragdoll. Comprised of members Ryan Rafferty (lead vocals, bass), Leon Todd (guitar), and Cam Barrett (drums), the trio has a new album, ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ that was released on May 23rd, and also recently had a successful performance at Rocklahoma on May 25th on the Retrospect Records Stage, which was part of a string of dates mostly in the Midwest and south.
Ragdoll Rewound is a compilation of Ragdoll’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. 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. I caught up Leon Todd recently and got the full lowdown.
Interviewed by Roger Scales
For those unfamiliar with Ragdoll can you give our readers a little bit of a history lesson about how and when the band started and who came up with the name?
We are from Australia and we all grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Rush, Whitesnake and those types of bands. We have been together a little over three years now as this lineup. The name Ragdoll doesn’t have a particularly cool rock n roll story attached to it. Cam came up with Ragdoll after his cat walked into the room when we were tossing around ideas for the name of the band. We kind of all agreed and just stuck with it. Fans kept asking us “Hey, did you take the name from the Aerosmith song?” That was just a nice coincidence. I guess it would be an easy transition if ever wanted to start an Aerosmith tribute band! Just learn a few songs and practice a few moves, oh and add two members!
Has the band always been a power trio?
Essentially yes. I’ve been playing with our drummer Cam for about 8 years now. We had always been on a quest to start that ideal band. Playing in other bands previous we had never really been satisfied. The three of us have been playing with lineups for 4 or 5 years but it wasn’t until about 2011 that we meshed as Ragdoll.
Let’s talk about your newest release Ragdoll Rewound a bit. Great idea to give new fans that may have missed your earlier recordings a chance to hear your first two EP’s which are virtually unavailable at this point?
Yea. That was the general idea. When Ragdoll Rock was first released back in 2011 it was a promotional only recording. There was never really any intent to release that we pretty much gave them out at our early shows. We were unaware what the market for our band would be at that point. That EP ended up in the hands of a promoter here in the US. He loved it and wanted to promote us here in the states. We put out another release at that point called Here Today to coincide with that tour. Ragdoll Rewound is a collection of those two EP’s. We had recorded a third EP in 2013 called All I Want Is Everything which pretty much put us on the radar with rock fans in America so than rather go back and record a whole batch of new songs we wanted to revisit the two EP’s that basically got the ball rolling for us. I think we really found our sound on the All I Want EP so we wanted to essentially update the first two and get it in line with that release. Also do have a definitive Ragdoll package for newer fans like yourself to have and hopefully latch on to it.
Now you have been touring in the US since early May correct?
Correct. We are currently finishing up the “Rewind Your Mind” tour that started on May 16 in Ventura CA and ending on June 13 in Las Vegas. We were lucky to get an opening spot opening for Skid Row at The Whisky A Go Go in LA. That was a great show. Love those west coast crowds!
Looks like the dates in 2014 are all mid west and west coast. Why no east coast dates?
Funny because a lot of the bands we have been playing with here in the US that originate from there keep telling us ‘you have to get up and play on the east coast. You play music that angry people will enjoy and those areas have a lot of angry people!’ Next time we play in the US we will make sure we try and hit the east coast. There are so many iconic venues up there I have only read about and seen in videos that I want to hopefully one day play.
What was playing Rocklahoma like this year?
This is our third time playing this festival. We got invited by the promoter right after the release of Ragdoll Rock who basically told us about 6 weeks prior to the gig that if we could get on a plane and get here he promised us a good spot on that bill. That really got the ball rolling for us then and generated a lot of buzz. For us coming from one of the most isolated cities in the world where we would play a single show every two to three months playing to such a captive audience at Rocklahoma who don’t have to paid to be convinced that they like rock music that was really huge for us. We planned this tour around that one great big gig and I think we will always look at that show as a turning point for us as a band.
Now you have a new video for the song “Tell Me” which almost makes you guys comic book characters. Tell me who came up with that concept?
Basically as we travel and we are essentially strangers in a strange land we take a lot of photos when we are on the road. When you let loose three young guys in a van touring America we basically look at this country as the land of plenty. Walmart to us is fascinating. We wanted to share that with the fans a lot of the photos that we took across the country. We wanted this video to be more lighthearted and had some humor with it. We wanted to push the song “Tell Me” as the first single and get it some exposure. How do we take all of these photos with the song and make it something fun? Cam came up with the idea of the comic strip style approach and throw all the photos together and see what happens. We approached a good friend of ours, who also happens to be a kick ass drummer in his own right, Chris Reeve to come up with something based on our idea. Within a week he had it 80% finished. We made a few little suggestions and basically not long afterward had the finished product. The feedback we have received so far the fans all seem to love it and I’m glad.
Are you working on new material currently for a new album?
We are playing a few new songs on this tour that we decided to roll out and get a real live feel to them. It looks as if the industry is changing and evolving to the point where bands are not always touring to support a new release but are now starting the reverse process. Having the opportunity to play them live gives us the opportunity to mold the songs into shape while taking the fans reactions to them during the show as part of the creative process. When I’m home I have my own small studio where you will often find me creating and writing new music. Not everything gets put out on a Ragdoll record but I have it. We plan to go home and continue promotion for the “Ragdoll Rewound” release and do some more touring. I mean even back home not everyone had the chance to own our first two EP’s so they are also getting the opportunity to pick them up as well. Hopefully by early 2015 put together another tour package for here in the states and play some different places as well.
Ethan Brosh is a guitar player of extraordinary talent. His heart and soul lie with such greats as Lynch, MacAlpine, Becker, Freidman and Vai. “Live The Dream” will prove to the world what Brosh has to offer and trust me it’s a shredder’s wet dream. I caught up with Ethan prior to his CD release party at the Hard Rock Café in Boston on May 31, check out what he had to say below.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Tonight (May 31) is the CD release party for your new album Live The Dream out now on Carmine Appice’s new record Label Rocker Records. Tell us a little about the record itself and how you found a home with Rocker Records?
The record took me two years to complete. I had been writing this material for quite awhile now. Some of the music was from years ago and I just had to complete certain tunes. I had some ideas and I just had to actually just finish them off, which is really the hardest part. But I’d say the actual writing process from the time I got on it and to finish recording it, then mastering it and getting the packaging completed took two years. Another year and a couple of months before it found a home on Rocker Records. Being on tour with Yngwie (Malmsteen) in 2013 distracted me from focusing in on the release of “Live The Dream”. It ended up working out just fine because Carmine Appice started his own brand new record label (Rocker Records) and it was just perfect. In fact I believe I’m the first artist on his new label. It was through my connection with my publicist that I came to the attention of Carmine’s business partner and somehow I was the type of artist they were looking for. Read more
I don’t think anyone could have predicted back in 2010 how loud the fallout from Mike Portnoy’s departure from Dream Theater and subsequent hire in 2011 of drummer extraordinaire Mike Mangini to replace him would be felt. Whether it’s due to mis-connections, miscommunication or misconceptions one thing was for sure – there was going to be change in the Dream Theater lineup and fans could either jump on board the new mighty sturdy bandwagon or stay afloat in the past waiting for a ship to pass in the night with a gunboat aboard hoping to hold the other members of Dream Theater hostage and demand Portnoy come back. With the album A Dramatic Turn of Events I think most fans could agree that not much was changing within the DT camp and the album brought forth the first Grammy nomination for best hard rock/heavy metal performance for On The Back’s of Angels in the bands history. You cannot argue with success. Read more
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Never has an album cover and title truly described a band at its core. Tesla, although first arriving in 1986 at the height of hair bands and commercial rock, were really never a band about presentation. They never had big hair, stage theatrics, spandex or racy videos filled with vixens. They did however tour with many of these bands and like it or not got lumped into that era, fairly or unfairly. My introduction to the band was from the first time I saw ‘Modern Day Cowboy” on MTV and my first Tesla show was seeing them opening for Def Leppard on the Hysteria tour. I thought they had boundless energy, were fun on stage and wrote memorable classic rock songs that were easy to sing along with. Read more
May 9, 2014
Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Photos by: Jeff Palmucci
Volbeat played the Casino Ballroom last week and I was there to photograph the show. The first time I met these guys was at Rocklahoma 2012 and they seemed to be great guys. I remember ex-guitarist Hank Shermann geeking out over my brand new shiny Canon 5D3 camera as I was setting up for the video and thinking: “wow, a major rock star can be a camera nerd just like me.”
Hank is no longer with the band, replaced by ex-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano simultaneously with the new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies. Caggiano can definitely pull off some awesome guitar, and is a great showman on stage. While in the photo pit, I noticed a kid about 10 or 11 standing in the front row against the rail. Caggiano came over and riffed to the kid, probably giving him the thrill of his life. Of course, I planted myself nearby so I could catch the action also. Make sure you check out the photo gallery below.
Although Volbeat is a Danish band, they come across as hard rock with a southern, rockabilly influence. They highlighted a bit of this influence during the show with a rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, and of course, in the new album with its western themes. If you haven’t heard Volbeat before and would like to give them a try, two of my favorite tracks off of Outlaw are Dead but Rising and The Hangman’s Body Count.
This is the second time I’ve photographed these guys in as many weeks, making the trip to Rockville at the end of April and getting a chance to see them there also. I suspect I’m a little obsessed. My family may be getting sick of me listening to them in the car. My wife definitely gives me a dirty look every time the “counting all the assholes in the room” lyric comes around. Ah well, worth it.
- Doc Holiday
- Hallelujah Goat
- Lola Montez
- Sad Man’s Tongue
- Heaven Nor Hell
- 16 Dollars
- Dead But Rising
- Evelyn (featuring Trivium)
- Radio Girl
- Still Counting
- Pool of Booze
- Hangman’s Body Count
Volbeat Photo Gallery:
When I first heard about this book I basically expected a pretty vanilla offering from a very well known singer/songwriter/guitarist who just so happens to be a very devout Christian while fronting a heavy metal band called Stryper. I have been a very big Stryper fan going back as far as 1985, seeing them play in a small club in Boston and have never missed a single tour since. That being said, I was hoping that Michael’s book Honestly was going to give some insight to a number of questions I have had during the 30-plus year career of my fandom of Michael in Stryper such as who came up with the yellow and black outfit design? Why did Tim leave during the recording of To Hell With The Devil? Whatever happened to his short lived replacement Matt Hurich? Why in more recent years was their obvious reluctance to play songs off In God We Trust? Why did Michael essentially break up Stryper in 1992? Who got the band back together in 1999? Trust me, I got my answers and a whole lot more. Honestly is a no-frills look into the mind and soul of a man who has made mistakes, had musical and personal regrets but at the same time has been a loving husband and father while maintaining his stature as one of the top rock vocalists of his generation. Read more
Reviewed by: B. Cross
Italian death metal stalwarts Hour of Penance have spent their career taking no prisoners, and extremity is assured on their sixth album Regicide. Kicking things off with an intro reminiscent of a dark fantasy film, the band immediately shifts into high gear with “Reforging the Crowns.” From there to album finisher “Theogony,” Hour of Penance have created a solid slab of high-octane death metal that runs at full speed. Read more
Winger has always been a band structured around songwriting and performance, yet in the early days bassist and founding member Kip Winger could always be found on the cover of a magazine or a staple through his mid section as the centerfold. Too often the band had more articles and photos due to their physical attributes and sex appeal than their actual playing. Nevertheless no one can argue that the first two Winger albums were hugely successful and in spite of the sometimes grotesque overuse of Kip’s “whiter than white” teeth I’m sure the general philosophy was “any press is good press”.
Well thankfully in the 2014 rock world Winger gets press now ONLY for their music, a welcome change for me personally having been a fan since the first time I saw “Madalaine” on Headbanger’s Ball in 1988. Better Days Comin’ picks up right where 2009’s Karma left off with some more heavy rock tunes, complete with signature harmonies and some memorable licks direct from riff master himself Reb Beach on guitar. All of these elements put together will allow Better Days Comin’ to take its rightful place amongst the previous five Winger albums but at the same time contains some individual moments which make it unique. If I were a professor set to study this new Winger album I would title my essay “Superior Time Emergence”. why Winger appeals to my five senses with their past five records and album six gives me added depth with a new sense to be able to predict future events. Better Days Comin’ indeed. Read more
Since Badlands’ 1991 release, Voodoo Highway, Jake E. Lee has led an incredibly low-profile musical existence. He has resurfaced from time to time with a few solo releases and a very short club tour with the short lived band Wicked Alliance, but none of his projects seem to take root and before too long he would be back living under the radar. Read more
Brooklyn based goth-rockers The Amatory Murder have just released a new lyric video for their track “A Haunting” from their new EP Exploiting Our Dreams. The EP was released on March 31.
About the video:
We are very excited to release the first single “A Haunting” off the EP titled Exploiting Our Dreams, via a music/lyric video on YouTube. It was shot and edited at King Killer Studios–our home in Brooklyn, New York. We know our fans will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. – Christian Peppas (The Amatory Murder)
The Amatory Murder “A Haunting” Official Lyric Video: