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Igor Checkryzhov & Marky Ramone (Sheremetyevo-2 Airport, Moscow, Russia 23.09.04)

— What are your current “Marky Ramone and Friends” shows about?
— Since Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee passed on, I guess I’m the only Ramone out there still doing things. And I’m getting a lot of email, because my email is on ramones.com, from a lot of “Ramones” fans saying, “Are you ever gonna play out and do “Ramones” stuff?” So I said, “Well I guess I should”. So not because I have to, but because I want to, and I feel that it would be a nice thing, for “Ramones” fans who never saw the “Ramones”. Basically, it’s keeping the legacy alive and a tribute to Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee.

— There do seem to be a lot of new fans.
— Oh Yeah! I mean, you’ve got 14 to 18 year old kids wearing “Ramones” t-shirts. And I go on the computer and all the sites saying “Marky, come out and play!” And it’s hard to say no because of all the great reaction! And I just feel it’s the proper thing to do at this point because there are so many tribute Ramone things and even bands like U2,“The Offspring”, “Pearl Jam”, “Green Day” and Marylyn Manson playing “Ramones” songs on the “We’re a Happy Family” album, I figured if they can do it, I can do it.

— Are you doing any recording now?
— No, not at this moment. I just released a DVD called “Raw”. That’s just my footage that I accumulated over the years. It just went gold in America. It’s a road trip with the “Ramones”. And there is the movie “End of the Century”, it was in the theatres and now it’s on DVD, and it covers the early days, so there is something for everybody.

— What else are you working on now?
— I’m going to finish writing my book. It’s about the New York scene. Starting with the punk scene and up until when the “Ramones” were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And then the passing of Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee, my insight into that. And I will be appearing once a week on “Sirius Radio” as a DJ.

— You brought up the early days, it’s a period I’m fascinated with, but I’m a little young and I kind of missed it.
— When Elvis came out I was 1 year old, but I still like Elvis. And I like other things like Jazz from the 40’s.

— What was it like in that time?
— It wasn’t planned, but we knew something fresh was starting. And the “Ramones” were definitely in the forefront of it in New York. Then you had guys like Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders, “The Heartbreakers”. You had “Blondie”, “Talking Heads”, “Television” and stuff that you never heard before that spread to London, and then it spread to California and it took off everywhere. We were all friends and we all kind of liked the same music. It was basically a backlash against Disco and this over bloated stadium Rock, y’know?

— And you were playing with Richard Hell at that time, right?
— Yeah, with a band called “The Voidoids”, and we did the “Blank Generation” album with the same company the “Ramones” were on, “Sire Records”, and they wanted Richard to be the lead singer of the “Sex Pistols”. But he refused, which was good, because who knows what would have happened (laughs).

— How was that a different experience than being in the “Ramones”?
— Different time changes, different accents. It was more like a Jazz Punk kind of feel. “Ramones” are just straight ahead 4/4 and the songs were shorter. That was the difference, just alot of accents in the band that me and Richard Hell had.

— It’s interesting that we talk about all these bands now like it’s a movement but they were all so different.
— Oh Yeah!

— But it seems that there is less originality in the bands that are now influenced by it.
— Oh yeah, of course there is. “The British Invasion”, who did they copy? Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Were “The Beatles” original? Yes, because they wrote their own songs and they put their own style into it. Today Punk Rock is basically, it’s been alive and great, but their teachers are the “Ramones”, “The Clash”, and the “Pistols”. But what I don’t understand, I don’t like to say the word hate or dislike, I just feel that you can’t just go to a mall and buy Punk clothes and call yourselves a Punk band. And get a bunch of tattoos from your local tattoo guy when you were into Heavy Metal 2 years before that.

— When I was in High School, if you went looking like a punk you’d get beat up...
— Well, that’s bad.

— ...but now it seems like everybody...
— Yeah, I know. It’s just at this point it’s fashionable, which is good, because it got to that point, to that many people. But in the beginning it was a struggle because we were competingwith “Saturday Night Fever”. We were competing with “Fleetwood Mac”, “Journey”, “Foreigner”, all these over blown bands. There’s always somebody who paves the way, you know what I mean?

— Looking back now, those bands you mentioned that you were competing with, is there any of that stuff that you actually like?
— Oh No!

— Are there things going on now that you do like?
— Well, anything that’s Punk I will support, it doesn’t mean I have to like the band. I think “Green Day’s” last album was very good. There’s believe it or not, a band from Russia that’s great called “Teraconnie” (Tarakany!). They’re very original because of where they came from. Living there in Russia is a very hard place. A kid that lives up in California an has rich parents and he’s in a Punk band really doesn’t have that much to complain about. That’s basically the difference.

— Do you think that things now mean less?
— Well, listening to “Green Day” album, at least it’s somebody speaking up for what they believe in. You can say I hate this, I hate that, I hated Mommy and Daddy, I hate tying my shoes in the morning, whatever. But at least people are speaking out, which is good. Using Punk as a format, which is good.

— What would you like to see happen in the future?
— That people use it as a basis. Whether they like what’s going on in their world or if they don’t. But not generalizing, being more specific. And the trivial things aren’t that important, y’know.

— Do you think the “Ramones” have gotten the right credit for what they’ve done?
— The “Ramones” have gotten the credit. It took a while, but you can’t change history. Thanks to all the other Punk bands that look to the “Ramones” as an influence, and especially getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all that stuff. The audience is finally catching up to us and realizing that the “Ramones” are basically at the forefront of starting this movement.

Cary Barnhard, www.heatbeat.com

 
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