It’s always a thrill to see a band you like and believe in get some well-deserved and well-earned opportunities. That’s one of the reasons I was so happy when Australian rockers Ragdoll recently embarked on their first European tour.
I interviewed guitarist Leon Todd before the band headed to Europe (read that interview), decided to check in with him again, post-tour. A big thank you to Leon for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Q. You’re just back from Europe, and from what I can tell after following you on social media, the tour went well. Can you sum up the experience in a catchy click-bait headline?
It was a fantastic tour, everything we could have dreamed of and more. As for a clickbait headline, I’ll just leave this link here as it more or less became the song of the tour. I apologise in advance…
Q. OK, now I can’t stop laughing! What countries did you play in on this trip? And can you give us some of the highlights from the tour, music-wise: any favourite moments and venues?
We played 9 shows across Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany and Denmark, including two festivals. We were really pleased with the response we got and we were really impressed by the quality of all the venues we played; it was very much a grown up, professional tour in comparison to the circus that touring can often devolve into.
The most satisfying show musically was probably playing Knust in Hamburg with our mates from Perth-band Vdelli; a venue with so much character and an insane sound system. Playing the first show in the shadows of the Swiss Alps was another highlight and really set the tone for the rest of the tour.
Q. I’ve got to ask: as an Australian, you’re used to massive driving distances, what did you think of driving around Europe as compared to touring by car in Australia? A little bit different I’m guessing!
As fate would have it we managed to start the tour with an 8 hour and an 11 hour car trip between the first two shows, so it definitely felt familiar to begin with! Once we hit our stride though it was a real pleasure only having to drive a few hours between shows and be in a completely different cultural and linguistic area of the world. It left us with a lot more time to enjoy the sights and the tastes wherever we were.
Q. Did you find any new bands over there that you hadn’t been listening to before? I know you got to see France’s Sticky Boys live so I am definitely jealous of that!
I think you actually got me onto Sticky Boys, so it was a treat getting to play just before them and then kick back and watch their set. Flayed are another French band I’d never heard before and they blew me away with their live show; likewise with Blazing War Machine and their drummer Frank who is a beast! We did a few shows with Hellectrokuters too and had their singer Butcho sang an AC/DC song with us as an encore in Paris which was a whole lot of fun.
Q. How did the crowds treat you? What kind of reception did you get as a “new” band people might not have seen or heard before?
Anytime we play a new place my expectations are pretty low, but we really got spoiled in Europe. Lots of people had taken the time to check us out online or had grabbed the album in advance, so we had shows where people already knew the words to songs and were familiar with what we do. In general I found Europeans to be far more engaged while we played and much more interested in soaking up the moment, rather than being glued to their smart phones or leering at us from the bar. There’s definitely a culture of respect around being a musician and it was nice to be treated as a professional rather than a bum!
Q. Sounds awesome! This was the band’s first trip to Europe, but was it also the band members’ first trip over there? And if so, what were your impressions of the place?
Ryan and Cam had been to Europe before but it was my first time. I was blown away and totally immersed myself in everything I could get my hands. I’m a history and geography buff, and I love food, so there was a lot for me to sink my teeth into.
Q. Apart from the actual tour and the gigs, what were your favourite places and experiences in Europe? Any new favourite foods you’ll be yearning for now?
I’ve been waking up craving fresh croissants and fine french cheese. Life will never be the same I fear.
Q. I can totally relate to that cheese-craving… Ragdoll has toured a lot (like, A LOT) in both Australia and the US. Now you’ve tried it in Europe. Lots of bands swear that Europe is the promised land for touring rock bands, would you agree with that after trying it out? And if so, what is it that’s different about Europe?
While the culture around live music is fantastic and there’s an appreciation for the style of music we play, it’s definitely more expensive to be on tour in Europe the first time than the USA.
Expenses for food, gas, road tolls and hotels add up quickly, but at the same time I found we got a better quality experience for what we paid. Furthermore, it’s the first time we’ve been able to do festivals that are willing to pay realistic fees given the distance we have to travel to come play them.
It’s definitely the first tour I’ve ever done where I’ve come home in a better state of health than when I left.
Q. Is there a chance Ragdoll will be Europe-bound in the future?
We’ll be on a plane there the next opportunity we get!
Q. That does sound promising! What’s up next for the band?
We have a homecoming show in Perth and then a handful of dates in WA before the year is out. We’re looking to push out a new single and video in the next few months and hopefully get onto some new merchandise too *cough*vinyl*cough*
(Ragdoll’s homecoming show in Perth is October 15th!)
Check out Ragdoll in fine form on this video for ‘Tell Me’!
Photo credits to Elspeth Erickson Photography.