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Jerry Only (SSA Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia 24.09.04)

— There have been many rumors about the poor relationship the “Ramones” had with one another. You were the only Ramone to visit Joey when he was in the hospital though, so I was wondering what Joey meant to you?
— Joey was more of like a brother than a friend, because when you’re in a band with someone for fifteen or sixteen years it’s hard not to be close. When Dee Dee left in ’89 he was my close friend, but Joey and I had a lot more in common. Dee Dee and I were like driniking buddies, and pot buddies, and pill buddies. We basically were the “goof-offs”, but when Dee Dee left me and Joey got extremely close. I never got along with Johnny which is news anyway. We had a tough two years, and we had a little arguement over him calling “The Remainz” a karaoke band. I didn’t like that so I said “Fuck off” to Joey. Then when I realised he was sick and I did go to the hospital, and did his solo album, and we made up. I brought him cookies, and they weren’t too good but they were alright. No one who isn’t gonna be your friend or who doesn’t love you or like you isn’t going to ask you to play on their solo album. It’s going to be out February 17th and I miss ’em and he was the greatest punk singer there is. He could scream and above all he could write which was very important.

— Being in the “Ramones” must have taught you a few important things in life. What are some you took away from the band and will keep with you forever?
— The “Ramones” trail blazed the whole music scene. It was very impressive to be asked to be in the band by Johnny and Dee Dee. When we retired I realised the trivial things in life don’t mean shit! You gotta let things go and not harbor resentments against things later on in life that you go, “How stupid that was”. You just have to overlook all that shit and have a good time which we did. The “Ramones” had a lot of fun. There were more ups than downs which I’m happy for. The important things in life are the ones that should stick with you not the stupid baby arguements. Ya know like, “Why are we eating sardines in the van it stinks and things like that”. I like sardines though and so did Johnny so what are you gonna do? Or octopus!

— From the “Ramones” to The Intruders and now Marky Ramone and The Speedkings... How are these bands similar and how are they different?
— “The Speedkings” are not my band, they asked me to play with them to do an album which I did because they’re my friends. Then the record company told them that if I didn’t tour with them they wouldn’t provide any touring support, so I have to do a tour with them in two days, for four weeks. After doing this for six weeks (touring with the “Misfits”) but it’s not my band. I’m just playing drums with them that’s all I am. I felt bad for them because they’re great guys and they’re fun to play with, but they’re not my thing. I respect their music and I think they’re really great with what they do. I’m fine with doing this and if doing anything else I’ll be playing with Dee Dee in “The Remains”.

— How did you get hooked up with the “Misfits”?
— Well, it’s Jerry’s thing. Ya know Jerry? Then Dez and Rob so it’s like a combination of things. Jerry is like the only member that’s there. It’s like a super punk band. Superpunk instead of Superchunk!
— Hahahahahahahaha!

— I’m not sure if you’re aware but last weekend the “Ramones” were featured on MTV2 having one of the top ten punk rock videos of all time (“I Wanna Be Sedated). How does it feel getting that award from MTV, and what are your thoughts on MTV’s effect on music?
— I think MTV is playing more punk now. They played us in the beginning, but I think being honored with MTV’s “Lifetime Achievment Award” and one of the top ten punk rock videos of all time, I’d rather have that than not have that. It is a musical program that sends a message. It’s not a message but people tune in on it and it’s visual and audio. Do I believe in awards and statues and things? No, not really. It’s a nice thing to get and I put them in my bathroom.

— Why? So when you take a crap you can look at them?

— Yea, yea, yea! Then I take the toilet paper and you know!

— From 1976 to 1995 the “Ramones” had 14 studio albums and countless other releases, and I know asking your favorite would be impossible to answer. Instead, I was wondering which album had the greatest impact?
— Can I say two albums?

— Feel free!
— First one... “Road to Ruin”, then “Rocket to Russia”, then “Leave Home ”, “Pleasant Dreams” I really liked, “Mondo Bizarro” saved us, the live albums... it’s all about that. It’s very hard to like just one. Ya know what I mean?

— After the “Ramones” retired you formed The Intruders and began playing with The Speedkings. When the “Misfits” tour ends, what can Marky Ramones fans expect from you? Will we be seeing more spoken word?
— I’ll be doing some spoken word in between things, when I have the time to do it. I think what’s going to happen with “The Speedkings” is that they’re going to get a drummer that lives near them so they can tour extensively through Europe. Like I said they are a really good band and everything. Spoken word... I get offers from people all the time to play with Dee Dee and tour with Dee Dee. Great guy, I love him, but we would have to come to some sort of agreement that would have to be on different times. If I wasn’t doing this stuff at this moment I would be playing with Dee Dee.

— You joined the band after Tommy’s departure in 1978. After only three rehearsals you learned 31 old songs and 4 news ones. Was the
“Ramones” everything you thought it would be, and would you do anything different?
— The “Ramones” were everything I thought it would be because I saw them live before I joined and I knew them before. I always wanted to be in the “Ramones” and Tommy wanted to leave so he asked me to play. Tommy sat behind me and I sat in the front and we just went through the whole set. I had to go home with headphones and a drum pad and play all of the songs from ten in the morning to three the next morning so you’re talking about fifteen hours but I had to do it.

— Obviously Joey had a tremendous impact on both music and on the community. Recently a New York board approved to name the corner of East 2nd Street after Joey. How do you think and hope Joey’s memory will live on in the future?
— Well, he deserves it and all the “Ramones” deserve it. Obviously he does because he died is such a shitty way. Death sucks! He deserves it and that’s where we all used to hang out and why not? I’d rather see his name there than “Whitesnake”!

— I heard many rumors about how the “Ramones” got their name. What’s the story behind the name?
— Paul McCartney used to call himself Paul Ramone when he checked into a hotel. So, Dee Dee said, “Hey, let’s call the band the “Ramones”... simple. You know what I mean?

— Early into your days as a Ramone you had to take time away from the band to recover from a battle with alcoholism. How did you overcome that obstacle in your life and did music play any role in your recovery?
— In ’83 I did “Subterranean Jungle” and I was drinking vodka in the bathroom. So, someone stormed in because he had to take a quick dump. So, I was drinking it and everyone found out and everyone was flipping out and I was at a point where I just wanted to drink. They said, “Get lost” which is understandable. I finished the album and I stayed for another year and kept getting drunk, then I started getting into car accidents and started going to jail. I had to be put away. I went into the “rubber room” for a while and I saw things and it scared me. I didn’t learn anything so I drove my car through a store window and went to jail and second time then I learned my lesson. I went to two or three rehabs and now that’s it. It sucks... it’s booze. I love booze, but you know. I don’t wanna come off like a dead beat. People like to party and you can’t preach. You can’t preach because kids like to drink and kids like to get high! I don’t wanna tell them yes or no!

— Lastly, I want to thank you for giving punkbands.com this interview. This past summer you played the “Warped Tour” along with the “Misfits”. How did playing the “Warped Tour” compare to the festivals you played as a Ramone. Would you play “Warped Tour” again?
— Would I play the “Warped Tour” again? Yea! Most bands on the tour sounded like the “Ramones”, like “The Gimme Gimme’s” and “Rancid” sounded like “The Clash”. Kevin Lyman is a great guy from the “Warped Tour” and we were very grateful to be on that tour because it’s a lot of fun. “Lolapalooza” with the “Ramones” was great and we did the whole tour. We only played like seven or eight shows on the “Warped Tour” but we had a great time.
— Obviously, nothing compares to the shows you played as a Ramone but did you notice a big difference?
— “Lolapalooza” had 25 to 30,000 people and “Warped Tour” had 10 to 15,000. They knew all of our songs, and all the other bands they have known two or three songs. The whole audience knew all of our songs, and it was great having the kids clapping away and slam dancing to all of our stuff. We have such a history of players so we can just bang them out. It’s such a cool thing seeing 16 and 17 year old kids having fun.

— Did you get to hang out with any other bands?
— They wanted to hang out with me but I didn’t want to hang out with them. Everyone got along but I just didn’t like “The Gimme Gimme’s”. I don’t like Fat Mike’s stuff! They are just a bunch of “Ramones” rip-offs. I’m not into that rip-off shit ya know? You can print that I don’t care!

Tim Creter, www.punkbands.com

 
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