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
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.
also played with Speedkingís frontmanís Nick Cooper previous band, the
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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
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.
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
& THE RAMONES
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.
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 !
successor, Richie Ramone, is a rather enigmatic guy for fans. Almost nobody
talks about him. Have you known him ?
No, I haven't.
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.
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.
seems there were also a lot of arguments between Joey and Johnny, over
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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,
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 !
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
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.
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
& THE FUTURE
you going to perform at your introduction into the RockíníRoll Hall of
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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 !