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
If you counted Saliva out when you heard that they had parted ways with singer Josey Scott, you have been proven dead wrong – all you have to do is give a listen to the group’s upcoming single, “Rise Up” (impacting radio and available for purchase via all digital stores on February 18th), and album of the same name (April 29th, via Rum Bum). And with new singer Bobby Amaru firmly in place, it appears as though there is a bright future for the new-look Saliva line-up, which also includes guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny, and drummer Paul Crosby.
TWRY recently to catch up with Bobby to get to know him a little better.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales Read more
Dan could we get a quick lesson on the history of Varga for metal fans that may be not quite familiar with the band?
It was founded in 1989 by bassist/vocalist Joe Varga and myself (drummer Dan Fila). We had been friends since elementary school. Joe and I started our first band together in grade 7 and we called it “The Golden Phoenix”. Our first gig we stole shopping carts and brought all of our equipment to school in shopping carts. Adam (Alex-guitars) joined the band by grade 9. Sean (Williamson-guitars) joined a few years later. Read more
Michael, let’s talk a little bit about Bridge The Gap, this is the first time you have recorded new music with Herman Rarebell and Frances Buchholz since The Scorpions 1979 album Lovedrive. After the tour and ultimate recording of the Live DVD Temple of Rock-Live In Europe in 2012 was this lineup something that you knew would work well together in the studio?
By the time we got to the point of the recording of the Live DVD which was the last leg of the European tour I knew. At that moment Pete Way was not doing too well physically and I had asked Herman if Frances was up to touring within Europe with (vocalist) Doogie White. Frances jumped into rehearsals with us and almost from the start there was something happening that was really, really powerful and strong and joyful. You could almost from the first show that everybody was really just enjoying playing with each other again. That was the real reason around recording the DVD at that time because I knew I had to capture this on DVD. There was actually almost a 6 month gap from the first leg of the tour to the second leg of the tour and I basically asked everyone if they would be interested in recording an album together. I started writing right away and then basically handed the music off to Doogie to get started on the lyrics. Read more
All-star drummer Carmine Appice is branching out. The rocker recently launched his own record label Rocker Records already unleashing several albums. TWRY caught up with Appice to talk about the new venture and everything else going on in his world including a new book and a few musical endeavors.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Carmine let’s talk about your brand new label Rocker Records and what led to the creation of your own record label?
Well first off, I have a book coming out via VH1 Books (more on that later) and while I was working on it, my eventual label partner Mike Cusanelli (who was also helping me on my book project) asked me if I had any product lying around that maybe I wanted to get released? He told me he could put together a small deal for my own label through E1 and not only help release my own material but also stuff my brother (Vinnie Appice) has and also some close friends who have live gigs or studio work never released. We had a meeting with E1 and they liked the concept and the next thing I knew we had a deal in place. Read more
Laura, you are currently out on the road with Ted Nugent playing around 40 dates or so. How has the tour been going so far?
It has been fantastic! We have really been enjoying the shows and being able to watch Ted every night and seeing how he performs is such a great experience. To see the USA in all its beauty in different cities every single day, we are just so fortunate to have this opportunity. Read more
Simon, The Very Best of Dio Vol 2 due in stores October 9 covers the final 4 Dio studio albums plus some bonuses. You were a part of most if not all of these records correct?
Most of it yes. There are a couple of tracks that I’m not on but by and large I played on the bulk of the material. I was a part of the Dio magic for the last 13 years of the bands incarnation.
This record is a true testament to not only Ronnie but his brothers in arms who helped make Dio such a legendary act. “Metal Will Never Die” is included on this collection and is one of Ronnie’s final vocal performances correct?
It was his final performance that I’m aware of it. He did that song with his cousin David “Rock” Feinstein who used to be in a band out of New York called “The Rods”. This project was a reunion of sorts of that band.
Apart from being a band member in Dio you were very close to Ronnie on a personal level even living at his home for a few years correct?
Yes. He was very good to me. He let me stay with him while I was going through a rather messy divorce. I ended up staying there on and off for over ten years. We used to work on his place together and build stuff when we were not off in the studio or on the road. We became good friends and remained very close right up until his passing.
You are now currently a member of Dio Disciples a tribute consisting of former band mates and friends who carry on the tradition of Ronnie’s legacy. How did that band come together and does the band currently have lives dates booked for the remainder of 2012?
After Ronnie left us some of us that had played with him over the years felt a great hole or void much like the fans as well. We just felt that we had to do something to keep his music and legacy alive. We just couldn’t leave it alone. It just seemed like the right thing to do to all of us. Craig (Goldy), Scott (Warren), Rudy (Sarzo) sat down with Wendy (Dio) on numerous occasions and discussed whether it was a good idea or if it was a bad idea and it just came to light that we could not leave the idea of carrying on Ronnie’s music alone. It’s like when a family member passes way you never forget them and you often feel like you have to do something to keep that memory alive somehow. We decided that we should go ahead and do it with the greatest respect possible. We play Ronnie songs and it’s a celebration really of his spirit between us and the fans. The fans seem to really enjoy what we are doing so it’s a two way street from our perspective. Emotions run the gamut from tears to fist pumping rocking out at these shows. We have a US tour scheduled for the fall starting on October 20 In Anaheim, CA and ending on Nov 20 in Allentown PA. More dates are being added so keep checking our Facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/DioDisciples.
Do you think there is a chance this lineup could potentially record any new material together? Do you think there are more unreleased Dio tracks from these last four albums that could still see the light of day?
We have done a little bit of songwriting together but we are taking things rather slowly because we are not real sure what direction it’s going to go in. So there are a few things Craig and I have worked on together and at some point it will see the light of day but we have to be careful how he do it because we want to make sure it’s done out of the greatest respect possible and we want to make sure its quality material so the fans like it. We are not rushing it. We take that aspect of recording anything new one day at a time. Right now our focus is on touring and making sure we put on the best show possible. There are 3 or 4 demos from the Magica sessions that were left in an incomplete form. I do believe that something is going to happen with those tracks but that falls under the wing of Wendy who will make those decisions. At some point they will be released.
What is the single biggest attribute that you bring to the Dio Disciples band that you learned from your years of playing with Ronnie?
I played so many shows with Ronnie I just remember how he thought about things and how he approached each tour, each city, each crowd. He had the greatest respect for the musicians around him. He also listened intently to the musicians he surrounded himself with on a regular basis. He was the master at bringing the best out of the people he worked with. I think that’s probably what I learned the most. Listen to what’s going on around you. In years past I didn’t do a very good job of that. I just played the hell out of the drums in the middle of battle on the road and I just sort of turned a blind eye to others.
You were only 20 years old when you joined AC/DC in 1983 replacing Phil Rudd did you feel pressure stepping into such an established act?
I did but I didn’t let it affect me. The lads in the band are just so straightforward and unassuming that they made me feel very welcome from day one. The first two or three shows were very tough. You’re waiting to go on and the rush was just insane! I think my first show was in Vancouver, BC at the Saddle dome and the stage was huge..like looking at a football field in the dark. Then there is this roar like a jet engine and I’m just standing there frozen going Oh My God..what now? They made me feel so comfortable from that very first gig it was like playing at a large rehearsal with a few friends along to party.
Has there ever been a moment where Simon Wright, Chris Slade and Phil Rudd have all been in the same room together?
Yes, on the Black Ice tour when the guys came out and played LA Chris and I went down to the gig and hung out together. It was very cool. We got along great. It was great to see Angus, Malcolm, Cliff and Brian after not seeing them for quite a few years.
You also filled in for Andy Parker in UFO for a period of time did you record with them or just tour?
We were going to record while I was in the band and in fact we did rehearse two or three different tracks but the timing wasn’t right and it never came to pass. Michael was leaving just as we started to record so that put a halt to things. There is a Live CD Live on Earth and I did play on disc 1 and2 from a show in 1998 recorded in Austria that was part of 4 disc set also featuring two older gigs with Andy. Funny story about how I got the UFO audition. I answered an ad in a local LA paper. It pays to read these ads! It was called the Music Connection and it read: Michael Schenker-looking for musicians for project. I happened to not be doing anything at the time so I called. I was talking to his manager for weeks and it was on again off again. Finally I got a call back and it wasn’t for MSG (Michael Schenker Group) it was for UFO. I was thrilled. Count me in. I ended up in Phoenix, AZ with the guys and we started to rehearse and it just worked. We got along great..I think it was our British connection that did it.
Do you have any current projects that you are working on at this time?
I just finished an album with an Italian band I got to know called The Rocker. I was out in Italy doing a few gigs with an Italian cover band called Riff Raff and The Rocker is their original band. It’s 3 chord rock at its best and we recorded with a guy named Fabrizio Grozzi who engineered a ton of great records with Steve Vai and Glenn Hughes and also played bass on the record. http://www.riffraff.it/
Any messages to your fans Simon?
The new record is will be out October 9 – The Very Best of Dio Vol. 2. Come check out the Dio Disciples on the road this fall! The fans are the ones keeping the flame burning for Ronnie and as long as they demand it we will keep playing. New dates are still being added to keep looking for updates on Facebook.
Confirmed Dio Disciples Tour Dates:
10/20/2012 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
10/21/2012 San Luis Obispo Slo Brew
10/23/2012 Seattle, WA El Corazon
10/24/2012 Portland, OR Hawthorne
10/26/2012 Las Vegas, NV Hard Rock on Strip
10/27/2012 Tempe, AZ Club Red
10/28/2012 Ventura, CA Ventura Theatre
10/30/2012 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
10/31/2012 Hollywood, CA The Avalon
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund 2nd Annual Gala
11/04/2012 Dallas, TX Trees
11/08/2012 Ft. Wayne, IN Pierre’s
11/10/2012 Detroit, MI Harpo’s
11/13/2012 Portland, ME Asylum
11/15/2012 Sayerville, NJ Starland
11/16/2012 Pawtucket, RI The Met
11/17/2012 Amityville, NJ Revolution
11/18/2012 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
11/20/2012 Allentown, PA Crocodile Rock
Live In Baltimore is a true celebration of party rock at its finest. In spirit isn’t that what Kix has always been about? Read more
TWRY caught up with Warrant guitarist and founding member Erik Turner to talk about the show which just so happens to fall on Jerry Dixon’s birthday. Erik also talked about close to three decades of rocking with Warrant, the passing of Jani Lane, their record label Down Boys Records, their new “I Saw Red’ wine…and much more.
For tickets to the upcoming Showcase Live show, head over to their website.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales Read more