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Marky Fuckin’ Ramone!

Written by Daniel Clarke on March 25, 2009

There are some moments, some instances in life that just seem to stick with you. I was only thirteen when someone handed me a cassette from a group called Company Flow.

What do you say to a member of one of the most influential punk bands in the history of… punk?

I sit down to chat with Marky Ramone, drummer for the legendary New York band, and the first thing that strikes me is his rich Brooklyn accent. Having just returned from a performance in Mexico city, Marky tells me there were some dicey moments on the tour.

“It got so crazy that ah… that we, you know, we ah… we really did fear for our lives so, we hadda cancel one show and the security was overwhelmed and they were even afraid so, you know, it got too ah… overwhelming for everybody. The vehicle we were in, the glass was completely destroyed. There were a few injuries, to the driver and to one of the road crew that was handling the equipment but we got home safe, so that’s what matters.”
I remark that crazy situations like that must have par for the course when he toured with The Ramones. He tells me it wasn’t as violent in Mexico city the last time The Ramones toured there.

“It wasn’t, that’s what’s surprising. We retired thirteen years ago. Maybe the fans now, the younger fans that weren’t around then, are a lot more assertive, you know, a lot more physical. Maybe their passion of the music shows more, you know, through their exterior.”

The Ramones did have their fair share of interesting encounters when they played. Marky suggests it has something to do with the ethos behind their performances.

“I guess it’s just the music. You do a thirty song Ramones set and you’re one of the Ramones and you come outside and the audience is leaving. They just, you know, they react differently but Argentina was pretty intense, they attacked us in our van.”

“I guess generations are different. In Japan in 1980, when we went there for the first time, The Ramones, they just sat there and clapped. Now it’s the slam dancing and the spitting, you know what I mean? So ah… Time moves on.”

On his latest tour as Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, he’s been playing a solid set of Ramones classics. The lead singer for this band should be familiar to punk fans also.

“I got the best singer that a band called The Misfits ever had, Michale Graves. The reaction’s been great. I’m happy because I’ve been through a few bands so far, trying to keep the legacy alive and the music alive but these guys do it the best and I’m very happy for that.”

I carefully point out that he’s not so young anymore, and ask how that has effected his touring.

“The energy level’s still there, it’s just that there’s other things that I do. I have a radio show in America, and I like to maintain that because I like to play music that I feel shoulda been played when it came out. I do DJ appearances at places too, so it’s not just being in a band anymore, you know what I mean, there’s other interests that I do have. That’s why I don’t want to be so dedicated to touring over a hundred shows a year. Maybe sixty, fifty that’s fine.”

The Ramones have inspired the sound of countless bands and emerging genres over the years. I ask Marky whether their legacy was as much in their ‘fuck you’ attitude to the establishment as it was their style of music.

“Well, we just played the music. We didn’t talk before and we mainly just counted the songs off. We didn’t wear platform shoes. We wore leather jackets, jeans, stuff kids could afford. We had an attitude like we’re gonna do what we want and we don’t give a damn about what you think about our music or the way we look we’re just gonna do it. I guess the punk bands that came after us took that to heart and then integrated it with their music and their attitude and that’s how it all came about.”

Speaking of clothing, I can’t help but mention the trend among younger punks these days of wearing Ramones t-shirts, whether or not they’re at all familiar with the band. I ask Marky what he thinks of it.
“I think music and fashion go together but the kids want the t-shirts, they see the t-shirt, they’ll buy it and then they’ll say ‘hey, I’m gonna listen and maybe check this band out’ and then that’s what might lead them to listening to the band. On the other hand, the kid could already have a Ramones album, be a huge fan and then buy the shirt so you really don’t know. You hope that that’s the way it works.”

With his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, Marky has definitely had a successful career. I ask him if he has any advice for musicians looking to start out.

“Be original, rehearse whenever you can and believe in yourself and don’t let anybody tell ya you’ll never make it or you know ah… you should just do this, do that and give it a chance. Give it a couple of years. Don’t get disappointed if your first album doesn’t do anything or your first tour isn’t good, keep at it for a couple of years and then after those years nothing’s happening then I would just say end it, you know what I mean?”

I think I do.

Catch Marky Ramone when he tours next month.

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