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The Squares, Joan Jett, Joey Ramone (K-Rock show 1986)

Cornerstone Magazine #74— You’ve been dubbed the original punk band. Do you feel comfortable with that?
— We’re the only band left that’s a genuine rock ‘n’ roll band, that’s really revolutionary.
— Would you say, Joey, that everybody else has gone commercial?
— Everybody is either commercial or broken up. They don’t care, they just want to make money. They just want to appeal to the ten year olds, like Billy Idol. They have no ethics, no integrity.
— How are the “Ramones” different?
— When we started out in 1974, there was no rock ‘n’ roll music back then. There was disco, and then the record companies were really pushing the softer stuff, the southern rock, bands like “The Doobie Brothers” and “The Eagles”. People were in it for the money, obviously.
— The “Ramones” are not into it for the money?
— No, we haven’t made any money. We really haven’t.
— You’re supporting yourself, though?
— Yeah, I mean we’re not starving. We’re just making a living. I don’t have a Ferrari, I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t like to own one. But I don’t have holes in my jeans anymore, because that would be a joke. Besides, I did that, and I didn’t cut the holes in my pants, they were there, because that was the time.
— Tell me a bit about your latest album, «Too Tough To Die»
— Everybody’s saying it’s our best album. It deals with subjects that hit home nowadays; it denounces nuclear war. It’s really intense, but it’s also got some other songs that maybe turn more inward too, like “No Go”. It’s sort of a be bop, swing type of song. I wanted to make it somewhat reminiscent of the Gene Krupa era, but I still wanted it to be very 1984.
— Do you really care about things in society today? I know in ’79 you had this one song where you repeated “I don’t care, I don’t care”.
— No, I care. See, people took that wrong. “I Don’t Care” was about not letting yourself be depressed and get into a state where you want to give up. It wasn’t saying “I don’t care” in a negative sense, I mean the “Ramones” are a very positive band. That’s one thing that’s always set us apart. And another thing about the “Ramones” is that we’re our own breed of music, and everybody in the world has tried to copy us. And I mean everybody, the “Sex Pistols”, “The Clash”.
— What motivates you Joey, to care?
— Well, I’ve always been an optimist. I just believe that there’s nothing you can’t do, if you decide you want to do it. The trouble with kids today is that they’re so negative it’s pathetic, it’s sad. I mean, rock ‘n’ roll is rebellious music, and look at it now; you have “Culture Club”. That’s not rock ‘n’ roll; I hear better music in the elevator than on the radio these days.
— Let me ask, do you have any spiritual beliefs?
— No, I’m not religious.
— Do you have any belief in God at all?
— I believe in God. I believe in him because there’s been... I mean, I’m still alive. I’ve gotten out of a lot of scrapes and I knew somebody was watching out for me.
— Have you ever thought about Jesus Christ?
— No, but I know a lot of people do, especially with Bob Dylan and John Lennon. I guess it just might have come more from their childhood, from being involved with church and the whole bit. But I never was really...
— You weren’t raised in the church?
— No, my parents weren’t that way, and so I can’t really reflect upon that.
— Are you open to Jesus’ claims?
— Everyone needs something to believe in. Obviously, I guess the most powerful source, the most helpful source, is the one you would turn to... Years ago, when I was looking for a new experience, I happened to run into a Hare Krishna. They used to have free meals, and this guy tried to get me to join. Now that was really sick.
— People are so hungry for spiritual truth that many of them are getting into a lot of false stuff.

— Yeah, that’s how it is today, with all these groups like the Moonies. They’re only interested in their own wealth.
— We agree. We’re not here saying check out this religion or that religion. We’re saying check out the claims of the real Jesus Christ. There’s probably been times when you’ve questioned a lot of things.
— That’s what living is, questioning. When you stop questioning you might as well end it, there’s no meaning anymore.
— But what happens if we’ve found the ultimate answer to all questions... couldn’t that be possible?

— Well, that’s the idea to find out, and get the answer to the questions.
— Yet some people get so into the search for answers, that they’re not really looking for the answer. They want to keep checking everything out... endlessly. If you’re really looking for some clear answers in life, look into Christ, he’s for real.

— I’m not doubting that he’s for real. I guess it all depends on what it is you really want out of life. There’s a lot of things that I want to do that I haven’t accomplished yet, and they’re not religious... things I just want to do on my own.
— Okay, but what’s all that worth?
— Well, self satisfaction for one. You know, it’s not even the money, although I’d like to have a bit; it’s self satisfaction. And then I guess relationships. I’m not really clear on those either. Sometimes I think I’m really lost but I believe in myself. I snap out of it eventually... There’s been times when I’ve thought about reading the Bible. I mean at some point, I will probably just do that, read the Bible. Every hotel I’m in has a Bible; I see it every day whether I open it or not.
— The next time you start to check into the Scriptures I encourage you to see what Jesus said, and then ask if Jesus is indeed God. If he is, then we have to listen to what he says. He says to change our ways and follow him.
— Yeah, but it also depends on your activities, right? Like, ah... whether you indulge or not. You see I don’t want to be pure, because I enjoy doing what I do. I don’t believe I want to give up my life so that I can find out if there really is a God or not.

Chris Ramsey, www.cornerstonemag.com

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