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Dee Dee Ramone (1980)

— You guys are back in New York now?
— We’re in between shows with “White Zombie”. We’ve been home for a day and then we go out tomorrow.

— How’s the tour going?
— They’re nice guys, we get along real well, and we’ve been having a good time. Everyone’s having a ball.

— Is it weird opening up for a band that was probably in dipers when you guys started?
— No, that’s the way it goes. A lot of times we’d headline over bands that got started before us, and they probably felt the same way. But we just play and enjoy that, you know?

— I saw you guys at the Capitol Ballroom and you guys were great. Is this really going to be the last tour?
— Yeah, this is it. John and Joey decided that they want to end it, and, you know, that’s what they want to do. I have different plans, but they started — along with Dee Dee — the band. I do have a say, but in the long run, it’s up to them. That’s the way it goes.

— When was the decision made?
— It was made about a year ago. It’s not that we’re beaking up — they just want to retire from the music business. There’s a difference. Some bands break up because they have to. They’re doing it because they want to get out while they’re still good.

— What’re your plans?
— I got my own album coming out in March or April. I wrote all the music and all the words. And I also have a side project with two members of “Rancid” and the guitar player form “Sheer Terror” called “No Brain”. We’re going to start putting out product in 3 or 4 months. It’s me, Lars, Tim and Mark Neuman. We’re all friends and we decided to start a band together. But the band that I got is called “Static Cling”. It’s a three-piece band. The guy who sings is named Skinny Bones, he’s the guy who writes with me on the “Ramones” albums. And it’s real good punk stuff — a good punk album, like the 70’s meets the 90’s.

— So it’s more like the classic stuff?
— It’s all original, but it’s got the rhythm that I play with the “Ramones”, and it’s got more guitar leads and a lot angrier voice, so it’s pretty fast and energetic and melodic. There’s melody to it — that was important to me.

— Is this going to be your main thing now?
— After the “Ramones” break up, I guess the main thing I’m going to concentrate on is my band, and “Static Cling”.

— I guess you were really the prodigal ramone, leaving and coming back. When it’s all over, what’re you going to look back on as your proudest moment?
— I guess playing these two big shows that we’re supposed to play in front of 70,000 people in South America. That’s two shows — 140,000 people, if it materializes. The good things? There were a lot of them: Phil Spector (1980’s “End of the Century”) was a lot of fun; my first album with the band, “Road to Ruin”; I liked the last album, “The Simpsons” was a lot of fun, there were just so many things that it was hard to pinpoint just one thing. It’s been a lot of fun, but time marches on, you know what I mean? For everyone.

— It’s funny, because you guys were getting better reviews for this album than you had in a while.
— I know. I think it’s the wrong time for the band to break up, and so did a lot of other people who’ve told me that. But, there is a time when you have to end it.

— You’re going ahead with your thing, that’s going to be a mix of the old punk and new stuff?
— Yeah, it’s going to be a mixture. I’m keeping the “Ramones” rhythm, but the guys in my band are all like 26, 27 years old.

— What’s that like?
— It’s great. The energy’s there, and they can keep up with me and my kind of playing, and that’s what I wanted — some people who can play in my style. It’s different playing in the “Ramones” than other bands. You have “Green Day” and “The Offspring” — other bands that copy our rhythm and our sound, sometimes, but to really play in our style is a little different.

— How does it feel to be an elder statesman and have all the younger bands look up to you?
— It’s cool, you know, it’s funny. Everybody gets along, you talk about things, it’s nice to see a lot of people like us.

— Did you think you guys would be around this long when you first joined the band?
— No. Twenty years is a long time. In this business — I mean, the “Rolling Stones” have been together since 1962, so they’ve been togther for almost 34 years. That’s really amazing. But you really don’t know — you come up to 10 years and go, “oh”, because you didnt think you’d make it this far. Then you hit 15 years, and then 20 — I would have been happy to see the band reach 25 years, just for that reason. But it seems to me that 21, 22 years is awkward time to break up.

— How did they tell you that they were breaking up the band?
— It was all discussed, you know. There were no surprises. I know John doesn’t want to do anything anymore, and Joey says he wants to open a bar — like a rock club or something in NYC somewhere, and he doesn’t want to do anything for a few years. You can’t take time off, because then you get rusty. You gotta keep playing and playing so you get better and get better ideas. It’s like anything else.

— Do you ever feel old?
— Do I feel old? naw, I feel better than I did 15 years ago. I mean, I was really screwing up then. I was really fucked up and drinking a lot, not giving a shit about anything. Now, I can play longer easier, than I could around 1980 or ’81.

— Did it ever seem to you that the “Ramones” would go on forever?
— No, because the whole idea was to quit while you were ahead and quit while you’re still good. I mean, you’ve got bands like “The Who” and the “Rolling Stones”, who are nowhere near as good as they were fifteen years ago, and they’re still going. They still draw a lot of people and they still sell a lot of albums, but I don’t think they want to be remembered like that. I was asked to join the band, and I came in to replace an individual member — Tommy — and that was it. I never thought the “Ramones” could go on forever.

— Were you expecting to do a couple more albums after this one?
— No. Just by the title I knew that it was going to be the last one, but if I have any say, I’d like to have in the can one more live album. No bootlegs, no “Loco Live”-rush jobs. I think that if we choice the right atmosphere and the right conditions, we could do another really good live album.

— How long does this tour go on for?
— With “White Zombie”, we got 3 weeks, and then 3 weeks off, thank God, and then we go to Europe for 4 weeks, and come back to do South America. I think we’ll do 5 or 6 show in New York, and that’ll be it.

— Will it be tough to wake up one morning and have it all be over?
— Well, I’ve kind of prepared myself for that — I’ll look back and say well, it was great, it was a lot of fun, I’ll always have good thoughts. if you reminice, that’s when the age process sets in — when you start saying “Oh, I coulda” or “I shoulda” or “Why didn’t we do this”. You just gotta move on to other things and hope that people will like them.

— I’ve always thought that the great thing about the “Ramones” is how timeless the music is — I wasn’t even born when the first album came out, but my friends and I still love it. Why do you think that is?
— Most of our fans now are anywhere from 17 to 25. What is it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the energy. Maybe it’s the weird lyrics that relate to what a lot of teenagers are going through or went through. That’s what we wrote about, that what we always write about. We never had to mature like some artists — we never worried about cracking the Top 10. I think that’s why it’s timeless stuff. It’s better than a lot of shit out there. It’s just a bunch of weird people, and when those people combine you got some great stuff going on.

— So there’s not going to be a reunion tour in 10 years?
— No. Johnny and Joey are the older members — I joined right after I got out of “Richard Hell and The Voidoids”, and C.J.’s the youngest. 10 years from now, they’re going to be in their early 50’s, so what’re you gonna do? Play “Ramones” music at 52, 53 years old? That’s a little too weird, unless we play the ballads every night — “Questioningly”, “I Don’t Want You”, things like that.

— Any chance you’d do another movie?
— Well, we had a script introduced to us, but we didn’t take it seriously. It was some situation where the “Ramones” were in another predictiment, and P.J. would be in it again, with the other guy Clint Howard, but you know, this was in the office lying around — just an introduction to it — and that’s the last I heard of it.

— What’s your favorite song that you guys are playing right now?
— Live? I like “Spiderman”. Well, some guy from MCA approached us about doing a song on a compliation of cartoon songs with some other groups, so we said, yeah, that sounds like fun. The speed is right, it’s “Ramones” style, and we just went into the studio and knocked it out. We like cartoons, and stuff like that. We just thought it would be fun. I like playing that, and I like “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” — those are the two newer ones that I like playing.

— Do you ever get tired of playing “Blitzkrieg Bop” every night?
— No, no. When you see the crowd enjoying it, you go, “Oh wow, this is better than watching TV or something”. It’s more of a thrill than doing other things.

— Do you guys have any studio tracks in the can that’ll come out later?
— 3 or 4 songs, nothing that great to speak of. They are good, but they were rejected for “Ramones” albums. I know what you mean though — no, nothing like that. When a band does that you go “Oh, that’s why it wasn’t on the album”.

Fritz, Diamondback Newspaper

 
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