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  News arrow Members arrow Joey Ramone arrow 1999.07.23 — Interview with Joey Ramone (www.rollingstone.co
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Dee Dee Ramone & Barbara Zampini

— What’s your take on this anthology? Do you see it as the definitive “Ramones”?
— It’s really well put together. It’s like the ultimate tribute to the band. “Rhino” wanted to make it really unique as well, so they were going for some really obscure stuff, mixes that were never released and things that make it kind of unique. It opens up the band to a more broad audience of fans as well as newcomers as well. “Ramones” records are continually handed down from generation to generation, and they’ve inspired all these new kids to start their bands like “Green Day”, “The Offspring”, “Rancid”. It continues like a pollination type of thing. The “Ramones”, right from the inception, were kind of the blueprint on punk rock. It inspired everybody from the “Sex Pistols” and “The Clash”. And it wasn’t just one kind of musical form, either. I met Lucinda Williams who is a big “Ramones” fan and people I never would have expected that we touched with our music. There’s countless people who are into all kinds of different styles if music and who are “Ramones” fans. So when you find that out it’s always kind of exciting and wild knowing that.

— What did you personally take away from this project?
— Well, it’s been three years now since our last show and... I’ve got really mixed feelings about the band as far as individuals go, but as far as the music goes, it’s timeless and very inspiring. I don’t really listen to it that much, but I see how it affects other people. There must be about 100 “Ramones” web sites and newsgroups on the Internet. And I check them out from time to time, and I guess that’s what keeps it continuing on after the “Ramones” have absolutely disbanded. There’s is a real intensity there.

— Have you got the reunion bug yet?
— No. I have no intentions of reuniting. Sometimes I miss playing with them, because there was such an excitement in the music, and the fans were the best. So maybe I miss that. And maybe just knowing what’s going on today musically, I mean, music really sucks again. Today it’s strictly business. They sign everything, they’ll sign a million bands in a shot. It’s not like it used to be where nobody would get signed, and if you got signed there was a reason why you got signed. It has nothing to do with the music today. There’s only a handful of unique artists out there. And a lot of kids tell me that they missed the “Ramones” all together because they were too young, so I feel bad for them. Sometimes I wish that they could see the “Ramones”. One thing about the younger kids: they get it. I mean, like when we started out, we were like our own island. There was us and “Fleetwood Mac”, or us and “Journey”, or “Disco Duck”, all that shit. But the younger kids, they love it. It’s like their music. They totally understand it. So sometimes you wish that they could have a taste of it. But, I don’t really see any reason to reform. It’s not like we were the best of friends, so it’s not like I miss their company.

— Do you see any of the other “Ramones” much?
— No, I try to see the least of them that I can. Once in a while I talk to C.J., once in a while I talk to Dee Dee, I never hear from Johnny — he never calls me, and that’s fine. And the other one I could give a shit about. But um, no. I guess that answers your question. (laughs)

— So how do you fill that “Ramones”-shaped hole in your life? I know you manage a band called “The Independents”. What else keeps you busy?
— I’m producing Ronnie Spector’s new record. Creation in the UK put out an EP earlier this year, and we just recently got a deal with “Kill Rock Stars” and it’s going to come out here in September. I was always a big fan of “The Ronettes”. Ronnie’s the best. She’s like pure passion; no one sings like her. Her voice is probably more amazing now than it’s ever been. She just is totally genuine and has that street credibility. She’s the original bad girl; before there was Courtney Love or anybody there was Ronnie Spector and she retains that. It’s really enjoyable working with her. I wrote a couple of the songs and I’m doing a duet with her, actually a song called “Bye Bye Baby”. And Brian Wilson wrote “Don’t Worry Baby” for her years ago, as a follow-up to “Be My Baby”, but Phil (Spector) wouldn’t let her record it because he didn’t own the publishing on it. But she always wanted to, so I said go ahead. It came out really great.

— Didn’t you also just do a movie?
— Yeah I’m in a film called “Final Rinse”. It’s an indie film that just premiered at the “Seattle Film Festival”. I really liked the premise of it — it’s a serial killer rock & roll murder mystery. Me and “The Independents” are in it. I play the MC of a club. It’s a small role, but it’s cool. It was a fun thing to do. It’s a totally off-the-wall, cult kind of indie film.

— Any news on your solo career?
— Well, I keep myself busy. I just do what excites me. I recently did a single with an indie artist named Helen Love. It’s coming out on “Sire” this summer. And I do shows from time to time that I concoct in support of new bands and just to create a cool social scene and just to have some fun. It seems like nobody knows how to have fun anymore, except pick some friends and blow out their fellow students’ brains or whatever it may be — it’s ridiculous today. So everybody has a good time, and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what rock & roll is supposed to be about: having a good time, no bullshit. You know what I mean?

Richard Skanse, www.rollingstone.com

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