RICHIE RAMONE: “PUNK ROCK IS ABOUT BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF”
SPE: How does this year begin for Richie Ramone? Are you excited about your new visit to Argentina?
RR: The year started out really shitty with the passing of my Dad. That took a bite out of me, but I am really excited about my return to Argentina. It always is an uplifting experience, and it could not have come at a better time.
SPE: Of all your previous shows in our country, is there anyone that you treasure the most? What can you say about the connection between The Ramones and Argentinian fans?
RR: I would have to say 1987 with the Ramones because it was the first time we ever played in Argentina. We had no idea that the fans would react in such a crazy manner, open their arms to us and make us feel really special.
SPE: Being the only remaining live member of that legendary formation, what do you remember about that first show of The Ramones in Argentina, back in 1987? Was there any experience before or after the show that you want to share?
RR: It was very intense with the kids following us everywhere on scooters and shaking the van back and forth when we parked anywhere. Besides the food and wine being so great, every moment was special. I remember stepping outside after the show for a cigarette and getting mobbed, which can be a little scary at times. You always had to have security around which was not as important in other places. Not that anyone wanted to hurt us, it's just that sometimes the excitement can lead to danger.
“Joey was a big fan of mine right from the start. We hit it off immediately and became great friends over the years”
SPE: Can you tell us about your arrival to The Ramones in 1983? How do you analyze those four years with one of the greatest bands in the history of music? What do you have to say about those that branded the band as “commercial”?
RR: I was in the band for four years and 10 months. It was and still is the greatest musical experience of my career. I never heard that we were branded as commercial though. Where did you read that?
SPE: You sang in various songs and also wrote six original tracks. Did it mean a lot to you the fact that Joey trusted in your voice and also in your songwriting skills? Do you think that it puts you above other past members of The Ramones?
RR: Joey was a big fan of mine right from the start. We hit it off immediately and became great friends over the years. He understood my talent and pushed me to do more like sing and write songs. It was great having him as an inspiration and I miss him to this day.
SPE: Let’s talk about your drumming style. How can you describe it? Was it your intention to provide The Ramones with a heavier (closer to heavy metal) sound or it was a natural thing?
RR: I just feel it and then drum to it. The way you hear it in your head is the way you should play it, and there was no intention of trying to make it heavy or anything. The first time I was in the studio with the Ramones recording Too Tough To Die, I asked Tommy if there was anything he needed me to play differently. His only response was, just keep doing what you are doing...It sounds great! Pretty cool huh...
“It's important to express yourself and not sugar coat it, nor make a bunch of shit up. Punk rock is about being true to yourself, not about your haircut or clothes”
SPE: “Suite For Drums And Orchestra”: Which was your motivation to do such a different and groundbreaking performance? What can you tell us about its production and how it was peceived by the fans and the critics?
RR: I just wanted to try something different and was always interested in playing the drums in front of an orchestra. You need to drive 90 instruments instead of 3, which demanded a lot of power and steadiness. I only did around 5 shows, but they were all to standing ovations. That tells me the crowd loved it, and someday I will do it again.
SPE: In an old interview about that show, you said that you don’t like to play “smiley stuff”. Do you believe that darkness and rage are important to deliver correctly the message when talking about punk rock and also in such a complicated social and political moment? Do you see that anger in nowadays bands or do you think that it’s lost in the mainstream wave?
RR: I don't think I ever used the word smiley, but I tend not to write happy songs. I don't know why that is or if it's a bad thing, I just write songs that have meaning and substance to them. I really never talk about politics in my lyrics, but I do say what is on my mind. It's important to express yourself and not sugar coat it, nor make a bunch of shit up. Punk rock is about being true to yourself, not about your haircut or clothes.
SPE: Let’s talk about your work as a solo artist, which has a great combination between metal, punk and classic rock. What’s the musical difference that you can specifically establish between Entitled and Cellophane? Do you see each record as a different picture or as a step in the same direction?
RR: When I wrote Entitled, I wanted it to have a metal feel and be as tough as I could make it. I also wanted to record some of my songs again since really I am a new artist as a singer. Cellophane is a more singer friendly record that was a result of touring with my band. I wanted it to sound like we do live. I think it's important to try and top yourself on every record you make, because you are constantly learning new things in life and that reflects on the songs you write. I try not to plan anything and just let things happen. That seems way easier to me and more natural.
SPE: What can we expect from your show in Buenos Aires the 2nd of May? Will you be only playing the drums or will you also sing in some moments?
RR: It's going to be a great night full of surprises. I will sing and play drums and also front the band. We have a few new songs to the set list which I have always wanted to do. We will also bring a new guitar player, Glenn, who really is fun to work with. 'The Last Time' is a song about my Dad, which we will play also. That is our new single being released on Outro Records next month.