Интервю с Richie Ramone (RAMONES)
This time we will introduce you to the legendary drummer of RAMONES – Richie Ramone! Read through the interview we made with him and see what you can expect on 22nd of March in Club Terminal 1 in Sofia!
Richie Ramone: Well, that’s all they have to know me as! Richie Ramone, drummer, Ramones. But I am a solo artist now, I sing now, I front the band, I play drums and I sing. It’s going to be a great show, I play some Ramones’ songs. I have two records out and a new one coming soon. I can’t wait to get over there, because I love the fans in that part of the world – they are very energetic, very good fans!
Metal Hangar 18: I am very happy to hear that! You have a book that is a fact right now. How did you decide to write the book?
Richie Ramone: I never thought I would write a book. And people kept telling me I should and then an agent got a hold on me and I finally agreed to do it. It was really good, because I wanted to do a book more than just about the Ramones and not a book about slamming people and all that kind of stuff. I wanted to talk about my life, because people don’t really know about when I was a little kid and the bands I was in, the music I was influenced by. “I know better now”… but it is not in Bulgarian, that’s the only problem, it is in English.
Metal Hangar 18: That’s not a problem! It will be read anyway. Tell us, how did Ramones help you to change your life?
Richie Ramone: Oh, of course it changed my life! I was 24-years old and I got in one of the greatest bands ever. I mean – that’s going to change your life. It enabled me to do what I am doing right now. It is very difficult for bands to go out on the road and tour. It’s very expensive and there are so many big bands and if you don’t have a little bit of a name, it’s hard to get work. There are a lot of great bands out there that just can’t pick up and go on a tour, so I am fortunate for that the Ramones gave me this.
Metal Hangar 18: You became part of Ramones in a very difficult period for the band. And I know that you had a very short period of time for adapting and learning. How did you manage with this and especially in the company of such individual personalities as Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee?
Richie Ramone: Well, Joey and I hit it off right away. I had no problems there, there were really no problems. They talked about Johnny not talking to Joey and all of that. You see, a 25-years old, I didn’t even, like, think of any of that stuff. Here I was touring, my first touring – national act. I didn’t have to work any other job, I could do what I wanted and that was a big deal, they became my friends so I wasn’t looking outside thinking – “Oh, what’s he doing, he is not talking to Joey” or whatever, I didn’t see any of that. I was just doing my job and having a good time. It was great, Dee Dee was great. I think that Johnny and Joey maybe got worse over time after I left. I was in the band 4 years and 10 months. So maybe after I left, the years later in the 90s, maybe they weren’t talking at all then, but I never really saw that and I was neutral – I got along with everybody like shouldn’t have been, I wasn’t judgmental.
Metal Hangar 18: You are the only drummer in Ramones who also wrote music for the band so it made you bring a new sound.
Richie Ramone: Yeah, there was a new sound. Every time you choose a drummer you are going to bring a new sound to the band. No two drummers play the same, it changes a little better, a little differently. And writing the songs they told me to write and Joey really encouraged me to write songs, to sing live. The band had a really good lineup these years – 83 to 87. I wrote songs and there I was.
Metal Hangar 18: That’s great! Is there a real story behind the lyrics of “Somebody Put Something in My Drink”, which you wrote for the album “Animal Boy”?
Richie Ramone: Yeah, I am sure you read that story. I used to go out with my friends, this was before the Ramones, when we were 19-20 years old, we had no money and we go to the night club and we watched the tables and if they got up to dance or went to the bathroom, we’d steal their drinks, cause they would be free so we drink free all night long, stealing people’s drinks. But one night I got spiked with LSD in my drink. Somebody had LSD in their drink and it spiked me, it was all weird and I was like “What’s happening to me?” and then I finally realized what was that. I told Dee Dee that story years later, I told him the story of that and he said – “You should write that song!”. So I wrote the song and it’s probably in the Ramones Top 20 of songs.
Metal Hangar 18: “Too Tough To Die” is a very different and most probably the most eclectic album of the band. How did you get to that change and to the creation of the album?
Richie Ramone: I think things evolve just for the time period. It was the mid-80s and that was kind of the sound going on. Number two – we never really sat down and wrote songs together. We would just write songs and then when the time came to do a record, we would go to the manager, everybody would play their song and they would pick the songs to go on the album. So that’s kind of what it was, it wasn’t like a scientific planning to do that. It just happened.
Metal Hangar 18: This is how inspiration works, of course!
Richie Ramone: Yeah!
Metal Hangar 18: Tell us a bit more about the other bands you worked with and how did you decide to start your solo career?
Richie Ramone: I produced some different bands, I played in different bands before the Ramones, like Velveteen. Those are some rare records to get, like 1980, 79, 81 and 82. I was going to Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, his brother puts on the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash every year, May 19th, that’s his birthday, in New York city – it has been going out for 20 years. So back in 2005-2006, Mickey called me and said “I want you to play on the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash“ because I haven’t played for like 9 years. After the Ramones I didn’t do much. So, I was like “Ok!”. I did it and then I went the next year and I was like “Wow, this is what has been missing from me!”. I have been not playing, so then I started to write songs and they would say “Oh, why don’t you do your own record?” and I would say “Oh, I never made my own record, I don’t know how to do that!”. So that’s how it happened – I was pushed and made my first record, and then made another album called “Cellophane”, that’s how it happened and there behold – I was back in music, which I never thought would ever happen! There is something inside of you as a musician, especially me, that you miss that feeling. You miss that feeling of creating, the feeling of being in front of an audience and I guess that was kind of happening to me, it all came back to this. And then I thought, “Oh, God, you can’t do this, you are too old!”, but as long as you are young at heart and you have energy and it is a good show – why not do it? Look at the Rolling Stones, they are in their 70s, but they still play.
Metal Hangar 18: The fans are super lucky now as you made a very great choice!
Richie Ramone: Let me ask you a question. What should I eat in Bulgaria? What is your local dish?
Metal Hangar 18: I would advise you to try musaka.
Richie Ramone: Musaka? Ok, what is that?
Metal Hangar 18: It has meat and potatoes and on the top it is covered with yogurt mixed with eggs. It is a very nice combination.
Richie Ramone: Oh, good! Ok! I will try it!
Metal Hangar 18: Can you tell us about the long period of time when you were a little bit away from music – what were you doing back then?
Richie Ramone: I did nothing… I was kind of a bum. I did different jobs, I worked in hotels, it got to that point after that. I played with some bands and nothing is happening, I am done, I am fed up. So, I worked some hard jobs and stuff, I worked in hotels, probably for almost 10 years. I really didn’t play drums. And I guess that’s what got me all rested up for now, I don’t know, but I just put it away until someone said to play to the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash and I was like “Oh, God, I am going to start doing this again!”, that’s how it happened. It’s crazy and another thing – it wasn’t timed, it just happens. I believe in life just happening. Let it play out, don’t try to plan everything, just let day by day happen and see what happens. That’s always a struggle for me because I would like to have plans, like when I do a tour – a tour got to be planned perfectly and all this, but there are always things that happen so don’t let it get you crazy. You are only here one time so let’s just make it happen. As soon as I can’t do this anymore or I don’t feel I am as good as I should be, then I will stop. But I feel it is still going strong and it’s still a great show and people love it, so I have no reason to stop now.
Metal Hangar 18: Yes, of course! How would you describe Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee through your own eyes?
Richie Ramone: Dee Dee – great guy. He had two personalities – the crazy Dee Dee and the nice Dee Dee. Joey was like my brother, always took me under his wing right away, we were together all the time for those five years. Every day, every night we hung out, whether on tour or New York city. And Johnny – he definitely ran the band and he was the businessman. I never had John’s phone number, we never went to dinner or coffee with John or anything. You only really saw him at rehearsals or on tour and at the show. After the show he disappeared, you didn’t see him until the next day until he got in the van or the bus. That was it – no real social activity with him. Sometimes we would go to a baseball game during the day or to something like that early, like baseball I would go with him, but there was no hanging out with John in that way. But I think that’s what makes everything cool – different kinds of personalities and that’s why it really worked.
Metal Hangar 18: I know that one of your favorite tour destinations is South America. How would you explain the great status of Ramones there?
Richie Ramone: I can’t explain it. In Argentina I am like a household name. People see me on the street, see me getting off the airplane, in the airports. The only place in the world where I need big sunglasses and a big hat. Otherwise everybody wants my autograph. (laughs) No other place in the world they do that! But the fans in Bulgaria and the Eastern Bloc, what it used to be, and all those countries around you are very intense. I played in Prague – that was crazy, Czech Republic, Slovenia. You guys over there still have the intensiveness for the rock’n’roll, like Argentina. You will come out and see me, even though I don’t have a hit on the radio or something like that. In America it is different now. It is a lot quieter – if you are not on the radio or doing pop or hip-hop – rock’n’roll isn’t upfront anymore. There are no radio stations that play it. It is really taking a back seat to pop music and country and everything. But not so much there, people still want to go out and bang their heads and that’s why I come that far to go there!
Metal Hangar 18: It is very great to hear this! Mentioning Bulgarian fans, what can we expect in terms of a set list?
Richie Ramone: I play a bunch of classics, songs I like to do for the Ramones, like “Havana Affair”. I like the tougher songs, because I can sing them better. I can’t really do some of the sweet crooning songs like Joey Ramone used to sing, because I don’t have that voice. It doesn’t work for me. “Havana Affair” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” and stuff like that we play, then I play naturally “I know better now” – my book title, stuff that I wrote for the Ramones. Then we do some stuff from my two records. And I got one or two from a new record coming out. It works, my material kind of works well with the other stuff. And you guys – I need everybody to come out, bring their friends, because if you don’t come to this show your friends are going to go “Oh, man, you missed it last night! Richie – what a great show!” (laughs)
Metal Hangar 18: Oh, we will come, for sure!
Richie Ramone: I have a lot of great merchandise and great t-shirts, pink vinyl and all kinds of cool stuff if anyone is interested in that. I always come out after every show, right after the show. Sometimes I jump right off the stage and go to the merch table and I say hello to everybody. So, that’s how I roll! Everybody can get a selfie, an autograph, whatever they want!
Metal Hangar 18: Perfect! This is very cool! Would you like to say something to the Bulgarian fans?
Richie Ramone: This is Richie Ramone! I am coming for you! I am going to eat musaka, or however it was called. (laughs) We are going to have a good time, we are going to get sweaty! I can’t wait to talk to everybody after the show and say “hello” and tell me what’s on your mind! See you soon, it is coming up quick, I leave soon to Copenhagen! Thank you so much for this – this was great! “I know better now” you can look on Amazon and richieramone.com. See you all!
Metal Hangar 18: Thank you! See you and goodbye!
Questions: Emiliyan Shterev
Interviewer: Silviya Vladimirova