Just before Christmas 1992 we had a chance to talk to Joey Ramone. Unfortunately, not at the best time. Earlier two bombs went off in Oxford Street and the band was stuck in traffic. Luckily there were no fatalities, just traffic chaos. Amongst the sea of circling metal were The Ramones still hoping to catch a plane on time for their Glasgow gig. That didn’t seem to have much effect; the Forest Hill man is still enthusing amid the noise and car horns, about the new album.
“…when we’d started the album Ed said “I want to make the ultimate
Ramones album” and that’s what I think we’ve done.”
Mondo Bizarro continues to increase the reputation of the New York band. The Ramones personal has changed. Unfortunately Dee Dee Ramone has left the seminal punk band with a parting gift of three songs for the new album – and his bail was paid, Dee Dee being arrested for long-term drug addiction. The three songs were ‘Poison Heart’, ‘Main Man’ and ‘Strength To Endure’. The Ramones consist of Joey, guitarist Johnny, bassist CJ and drummer Marky they been touring for four months or so, but nothing keeps Joey Ramone is…
“It’s out best album or definitely up there with ‘Too Tough To Die’ or ‘Road To Ruin’. I think it’s our best album.”
‘Mondo Bizarro’, their first release for three years since ‘Braindrain’, seems to have been helped by the studio debut of CJ on bass and the return, after eight years, of producer Ed Stasium.
“I see a new strength of the band with CJ’s entry into the group. I feel it’s brought a whole new quality and enthusiasm to the group therefore when we’d started the album Ed said “I want to make the ultimate Ramones album” and that’s what I think we’ve done.”
I’d agree that this is one of the strongest studio albums they’ve done in their eighteen years so far, and I don’t think Joey Ramone is into hype, after all the man hasn’t changed his haircut in eighteen years! Talking of punk Joey draws a straight line into now, through the Ramones sound.
“I see a lot of what we initiated back in 74, that the world knew about in 76. Everybody adapted our distinct trademark sound. The foundation for a lot of these bands is the Ramones whether it be the Sex Pistols, Metallica or Nirvana. The Ramones can be found in all these people’s styles.”
Back to their twelfth studio album, and the first release, the single ‘Poison Heart’ – “I just want to walk right out of this world because everybody’s got a poison heart” – seemed to be negative?
“Well we wrote that song, actually Dee Dee contributed three songs to the record. Basically I think it’s his outlook after leaving the band; maybe he expected it to be a little better, it’s a cruel world out there. On the other hand I think it’s very relevant to the way things are in the world nowadays; its total chaos and anarchy out there with drugs, the economies of the world. It’s kind of a little gloomy out there with some pretty serious issues, but on the whole I think it’s an optimistic album.”
Moving on to the new single, ‘Strength To Endure’
“There gonna go for the next one; we shot a video for it the other day, it’s a real cool, positive, optimistic video that features the fans.”
After finding out a little about the New York scene from MOD, I asked fellow Ney Yorker Joey between strained voices, stagnant engines and frustrated shouts and general traffic, what he thought was happening in the North East city.
“There’s a real healthy scene, with new bands like Bowerhouser (don’t quote me on spelling). There’s a real upcoming scene in Manhattan with Luna chicks, 1900 Box, an all-girl band Degeneration and a band called Black 47, they’re an Irish band. It’s defiantly going to be the next big scene, everything’s back to basics again. It’s not just a regional thing, it’s pretty much happening everywhere which is really healthy. I think it’s a good creative time, sure there’s still the dance crap, but that’s more the mainstream.
I think there’s more on the lost side; things are really exciting now with Seattle, the Chilli Peppers and Perry Farrell’s new band – Porno For Pyro’s. There are just a lot of bands coming up and they are being inventive. It’s a time when you can be creative and inventive, and it’s cool. It’s acceptable and promoted. There was a time where you couldn’t really do what you wanted to do, it wasn’t accepted. The Ramones have always done what e wanted to do, now it’s back to basics and being able to conjure up your own thing.”
On to the current tour…
“It’s going great actually, we’ve been on the road now for about 15 weeks, we stated in South America did three weeks there, then we did six weeks in America then ten shows in Germany, two in Holland, and the seven we’re doing here.
It keeps getting better, it’s younger. We’re into our third generation of fans. Our fans are into Metal, Thrash, Hardcore, Punk and Alternative, they’re all different ages, black and white, it’s just great. It’s for everybody.”
Plans for the future? More live shows.
“This tour’s booked to 94. In 93 we go back to the States in April. The plan is to go out with a bigger group than ourselves, one with a higher profile and more exposure: they’ve talking about maybe AC/DC or Skidrow. What’s coming up more immediate is Japan in January, then Spain and France.”
As Heathrow airport loomed into sight, I said my goodbyes to the soft talking Joey Ramone. He caught his plane to Glasgow and I was left wondering why I was sitting transcribing this interview. Instead ad of watching a great band about 250 miles north…