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LES RAMONES - Marky Ramones speaks !


Seule la version anglophone de cette entrevue est pour l'instant disponible. Mais la traduction française ne devrait pas tarder !


The Intruders, your previous band, were a kind of Ramones-style band. The Speedkings are more on a rockíníroll edge Ö Was it your goal to go away from the Ramoneís paths ?

No, you can never do that. You just try to do every song as you like it, and if you donít enjoy doing it, you donít do it. Itís just fast, energetic music, and thatís great because our fans are getting youger and younger and the kids who come to see this new stuff are either Ramones fans who were too young to see us, or new fans who want to see what Iím doing now.

You also played with Speedkingís frontmanís Nick Cooper previous band, the Buckweeds.

Yeah, that was last year and then we founded the Speedkings. You know, we did it mainly to have a good time, to get to know each other.

What are your influences for this new stuff ?

I think our main influences come from the original rockers, from the 50ís, like Elvis, stuff like that. But, you know, sometimes you can write something and not even know where you influences are coming from. Just like Social Distorsion, who copied Ramoneís ďLifeís a gasĒ on their last album. Their song sounds just like it, but they probably not even realized they were copying it ! So, you donít really know where you are getting your influences. I mean, youíre not sitting there and saying ďIím gonna write a Ramones song. Iím gonna take this part and put it in my song.Ē Itís all in the mind, you know, in the subconscious. But some bands would steal, like NoFX, who steal parts to put them in their own songs.

It seems you donít like this skate-punk wave Ö

Yeah, I donít like it, itís faky. Thatís all L.A., orange juice and sunshine. I mean, how much punk can you be if you have suck nice things like that !

Doesnít it make you angry to see all these californian bands who have stolen everything to the Ramones and who have an incredible commercial success ?

I donít care Ö we donít care. The Ramones were very content. And copying somebody is kind of flattering, itís nice, thereís nothing wrong with it. These bands just needed a band like the Ramones to use it as a map. And itís good because they keep punk alive. But in the end, the history books will always say the Ramones were the main people.

Is there any band you like in the actual punk scene ?

I like the Donnas, the Toilet Boys Ö and I still like the old stuff : the first Sex Pistols album, Motörhead, Blondie, The Clash, etc. But I also like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, the Phil Spector stuff, the Beatles, things like that.

Donít you think that the Speedkings are part of this wave of bands like Nashville Pussy, Supersuckers, Zeke, etc. who mix the Ramonesís legacy with the old rockíníroll ?

Nick Cooper : You might be right, yeah Ö I mean, itís all bands who donít care about being categorized. The play punk, they play hard-rock, they play everything which they feel is good and which comes natural. And obviously we might have the same influences. My main influence is the Ramones, and also a lot of other stuff. And I think if we might sound similar, then probably we have listened to the same things in the past. Some poeple say itís like Social Distorsion. It depends on what youíre listening to, I guess !

But it has generally more to do whith the old fashioned rockíníroll. Thatís what Marky likes, he wanted to go back to original music.

What about this european tour ?

26 shows, we have 4 more to go. It has been going really good, but it was kind of life-threatning ÖNo, seriously, itís great, but itís dangerous ! It has almost got really violent.




Youíve joined the Ramones in 1978 Ö

Yeah, Tommy left to produce and Dee Dee asked me to join the band. I was then with them for 15 years with a 3 and a half years break.

What is your personnal best remembering with the Ramones ?

When Dee Dee asked me to join the band. It was at Maxís Kansas City. I was sitting there with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan. Then Johnny asked me oficially if I wanted to join them. And I said yes, of course. Then, Johnny started talking about all these rules I had to follow. I said him "if you want me to join the group, I wonít listen to all these rules. Weíll just do the album, do the tour, gimme the tape and Iíll do the best I can." He was like a sergeant, but he did that with the other guys and it never worked with me. It was a little hard sometimes but it always worked out. I listened to the tape and we rehearsed in the studio with Tommy who was behind me. Iíd had to learn 33 songs for 2 weeks. Plus the whole new album, Road to Ruin. The first song I recorded with them was I Wanna be sedated. And we did it in two takes !

Your successor, Richie Ramone, is a rather enigmatic guy for fans. Almost nobody talks about him. Have you known him ?

No, I haven't.

He hadnít exactly the Ramoneís drums style ...

Yeah, but he did some good things also. But he did one very bad thing. He left the band as they had still 20 shows booked. He was like a side man and he wanted to earn a lot more of money and the other ones didnít wanted to give it to him, so he told them to fuck off and he just let them hanging. Then they called me up to come back to save them from doing the shows and I stayed with the band to the end. But thatís all I know about Richie.

There was lot of bad feelings between the different Ramones members Ö

You know, it was like a family.... it had started over a girl, 18 years ago. Joey had a girlfriend and Johnny ended up marrying her ! And Joey kind of obsessed on it. He souldnít have because thereís lots of other girls on this earth. He then found another girlfriend, but kind of never forgot. And he kind of did it in front of him, which wasnít very nice. And it created a lot of bad vibes in the band.When Joey was at the hospital, I was the only Ramone to visit him, and I was also the only one to play on his solo album. And, I mean, itís pretty bad if you donít visit a guy you worked with for 22 years when heís dying. Thatís bad.

It seems there were also a lot of arguments between Joey and Johnny, over musical chooses.

Right. Joey liked to do ballads, slower songs and more Phil Spector influenced kind of music. I did too, but I liked to do both. But Joey and Johnny argued on it. Well, not argued, but disagreed over certain kind of styles, of speed of the songs. The subject also mattered. Joey liked to sing about girls and love, and Dee Dee wrote about mentally, lobotomy, things like that. There were differences, but that made the band good.

The two guys specially disagreed on Pleasant Dreams, which was a more pop album.

I like Pleasant Dreams. Itís a very good punk pop album. I really liked it. And the both influences are here. Dee Dee and Joey had both a lot to do with it. To me, itís one of my favourite Ramoneís album.

And what about Dee Dee ? I read an interview where he said that he had left the Ramones because the other ones treated him so bad.

Dee Dee left because he wanted to pursue a rap carreer. When I got back in the band in 1983, he was into rap. And thatís why he left. No one kicked him out. Thatís what happened with Dee Dee. You know, Johnny didnít get along with Joey, Dee Dee didnít get along with Johnny, I didnít get along with Joey, then I didnít get along with Johnny. It was like back and forth. It was just bullshit, just little stupid things. But when we played on stage, thatís what mattered.

Have you been happy sometimes?

Yeah, we were happy a lot of times, but we fought a lot too. But you know, it was like a family, brothers always fight. But I visited my brother in the hospital and weíd be friends till the end. I could keep telling about the other guys, but you should ask them, because I canít speak for them. They have their own reasons...

After Pleasant Dreams, the Ramones went back to a more Punk-Hardcore way ...

We never were really into hardcore. We didnít like it because there was no melody and no verses. And you have to write a song around a hook, a memorable chorus ; and hardcore was just straight and fast.

Is Too tough to die the least good Ramoneís album ?

Maybe ... I donít like Subterranean Jungle. The songs are great, but the production is very bad. And the drumís sound is horrible, itís like paper. The other ones wanted a certain sound of drums and I didnít wanted to argue with them, so I just let them doing it. After this, I always took control of my drumís sound. Thatís what I learned with Subterranean Jungle : donít let anybody fuck with your drum sound. Producers, engineers, I donít care who they are. Just kick them in the ass, get them out of the studio and do it yourself.

A lot of journalists and people still think the Ramones were dumb Ö

I donít care, itís alright. I think they mean it in a good way. And, you know, I donít wanna be known as a smart guy. The lyrics the Ramones wrote were dumb and fun. And you need smart guys to write such dumb lyrics !

And what about this lack of commercial success ?

Weíve had commercial success. Probably more in these last six years than ever. We had the gold album, the RockíníRoll Hall of Fame, the MTV Lifetime Achievement. You know, you just do the best you can ! The Ramones very content with what they contributed to the music history. Thatís flattering. I donít wanna be a multi-millionaire. Iím very happy financially.

A lot of people think that the punk was invented by the Sex Pistols. Doesnít it make you angry ?

I donít hear it from that many people. I think they know who really started it. You know, the Pistols were in the audience when the Ramones played for the first time in London, and their album came out only in 1977, one year after Ramoneís first album.

Sid was even a huge Ramones groupie !

Yeah, he used to follow Dee Dee. He was a junkie, but he was funny and it was fun to hang out with. And ďMy WayĒ is a great song. And he did it in one take ! And thatís great, thatís cool.

His bass style was also a kind of Dee Dee imitation.

Yeah, he imitated Dee Dee, but Dee Dee was very good. And he still can play like that ! And itís very hard to play like him !

According to you, what was the bandís carreerís highest peak ?

Thatís rather hard to say, thereís been so many peeks, Lollapalooza, Phil Spector, RockínRoll Highschool, the Simpsons, Pet Semetary, the gold album, Ö And it just keeps coming !

Was RockíníRoll Highschool a good movie ?

We were pretty high then and itís very hard to remember making it ! But, as I look back, it was a funny movie, and there were lot of good people on it. I remember getting up 6 in the mornig to go to the set. Then we had to wait around all to day to film one little part. And the kids who were there used to give us pills and quaaludes, it was rather crazy. I also remember that I had a hangover because I was hanging with Phil Spector. He was drinking with me and I had to be two hours later on the set !

It was five weeks to shoot it and then we got the hell out of there, because being in L.A. can be selfdestructive, having every wish in your command, and hangin out with Phil Spector, Joan Jett, guys from the Clash. I mean, your body canít tolerate it. Thatís why I had to stop then.

Whatís your best gig remembreing ?

Japan, Lollapalooza, Europe, Spain, Argentina, Brazil Ö You know, all of the world ! Everywhere we went, it was always kind of crazy. And our gigs were good til the end, even with C.J. It was hard for him to fill Dee Deeís shoes, because itís the guy who started the band and created the playing style, you know, that down-stoke picking. He played those constant 8-notes which would create this ďwall of soundĒ. And I had to do that too with the hi-hat and Johnny would also do that on the guitar. And it would create this ďwall of soundĒ you hear constantly.


Are you going to perform at your introduction into the RockíníRoll Hall of Fame ?

I could, but I donít know if Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy can. Because Tommy and Johnny donít play anymore. So, Iím not gonna do a drum solo. And, of course, Joeyís not here, so, whoís gonna sing ? In fact, I donít really know whatís going to happen.

Youíre writing a book ..

Yeah, but Iím taking my time. Itís gonna be a real book, not a bullshit book, like Jim Bessmanís one, which is great. Iím gonna write my thoughts and my experiences with the band. Iíll be positive and Iíll think of the good things. I donít want to be vindictiv, kinda what Dee Dee did with his book.

You donít like his book ?

His bookís OK, but he left it to this girl named Veronica Kauffman who had nothing to do with the Ramones. And he ended up writing the end of the book. Dee Dee let her write the end of his book and, I mean, she wasnít around, she didnít know about the Ramones ! I donít want to do that on my book, Iím gonna write it myself. But Iím gonna have people, which were with me on tour with the band, and which always wrote notes and Iím also gonna use them.

Does it never bother you to talk about the Ramones ? I mean, how many times did you have to tell the Phil Spector story ?

No, it doesnít bother me anyway. I donít mind and Iíll talk about the Ramones anytime anybody wants me to talk about it !

And what about playing the old Ramones songs fot the 5000th time ?

It makes me happy ! If it bothered me, I wouldnít be here, Iíd be home doing nothing, watching T.V., scratching my balls Ö You know what I mean ? Unless itís fun and Iím having a good time, Iíll keep doing it !

This interview was made during the Speedking's 2001 european tout.

A huge thanks to Marky and Nick !