The Ramones Interview
It's hard to believe but true, The Ramones have been on the music scene 14 years already. To celebrate that, Warner Bros. Records will be releasing a double album on The Ramones in April. Just released, Is The Ramones latest recorded effort - "Halfway To Sanity". Lead singer Joey Ramone spoke with us recently about the history of the Ramones.
Q - When you started the Ramones Joey, did you ever in your wildest dreams
think the group would last 14 years?
A - Well, you don't really think about it. You take one step at a time. First, you want to play. Then the next step is to land a record deal.
Q - Do you remember your first gig?
A - Yeah, I do.
Q - Where was it and what was it like?
A - It was in a rehearsal studio, but it wasn't the Ramones formation as it is now. I think I was playing drums at the time. That mode wasn't working. We like switched around, (laughs). I guess CBGB's was more like the formation we are now.
Q - Were there any bands before the Ramones that had your sound or close
to it anyway?
A - No. Nobody had our sound.
Q - Through the years, what's been the Ramones approach to the music?
A - We're true to ourselves. We’re true to our feelings. I feel were one of the most exciting bands there is right now. We're a new attitude to music. A new sound. Put the fun back into it. You don't find that in music now-a-days. Everything is so sterile and stereo typed. No guts, no feeling in music anymore for the most part.
Q - Why do you think that is?
A - Maybe it doesn't sell. Everything is sort of mass marketed now-a-days. It's rare when you can pick up a record and get something out of it, some real emotion, some real excitement.
Q - When the Ramones first appeared on the music scene,
you were called "punks" because
of the way you dressed with your leather jackets, and jeans. Today's groups
make the Ramones look tame by comparison. Where, if any is the resemblance
between today's groups and your group?
A - The resemblance is, they took our sound and our style.
Q - And they seem to have carried it on in a rather negative way. The Ramones
never sang about Satan.
A - We have taste.
Q - How extreme can any band be anymore?
A - Just being genuine and doing what you really feel, doing what you believe and not going for the sensationalism of it all. There are like a handful of great bands out there that are still unique and innovative. I think Motorhead are great. AC/DC are great. It's pretty sickening, the new metal scene. For the most part, it's just a bunch of posers. Everybody looks the same, moves the same, dresses the same, and the same hairdos. It's a lot of crap. It’s mediocrity.
Q - Did your record company ever try to change the band in any way?
A - They were saying stuff, but we more or less told them to mind their own business, to put it nicely. One thing about the band, we know exactly, what we are and what we want, we don't compromise. We do things our way. Our way is the right way. Most bands out there today don't have the slightest idea of what they want. They're told pretty much what to do by their label and their management.
Q - How did you come to the attention of Sire Records?
A - When it actually came down to us signing with Sire, it was this guy who was sort of an in-house producer who had seen us and liked us and told Seymour Stein (founder of Sire Records) about us. By that point, a lot of labels were coming down. Actually, we were the first band of our kind to be signed. The only other person was Patty Smith, and she was doing something different. There was a sort of black cloud hanging over New York for years ever since the failure of the New York Dolls. For some reason because they flopped in a commercial sense, New York had a black mark against it, which was absurd. With our singing, it was the beginning of something. After all the labels watched the success of the band for like a year’s period, they started signing everybody in the world. We went with Sire because it's a small company. We didn't want to get lost in the shuffle of a major company, maybe like more of what Sire is now, like Warner Bros. At the time, it was an independent company. Things were different.
Q - When you're not out on the road, or in the studio, what do you like to
do with your time?
A -I like to stay creative and energetic. I like to check out new groups. Hangout. Get involved with things.