(The following is the extended version of the PopRox column that appears in Sunday’s Pocono Record. Before we get to it, here’s your last reminder — this is the last day to enter for the tickets to see Marky Ramone at the Sherman Theater on March 29. Good luck! Speaking of Marky Ramone …)
Marky Ramone has seen it — and done it — all in his rock and roll career.
A drummer for the seminal punk rock band the Ramones for 15 years, he’s continued touring and working in music, and on March 29, he brings his latest band, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, to the Sherman Theater.
The band is just back from a tour of Argentina, and before it comes to town, Ramone (real name: Marc Bell) took some time to talk about the scary state of rock and roll, getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and what he’ll be revealing in a new book:
PopRox: Tell me about the band.
Marky Ramone: We play 32 classic Ramones songs. People still wanna hear those songs, man. We’ve got teenagers and kids in their early 20s in the audience, and we still have those devoted fans from when the band was still around.
PR: Why are people still looking to hear those songs?
MR: There’s really nothing out there when you think about it. I just watched the Grammys, and it was so much s—. Excuse my language, but it’s true. People are sick and tired of having music rammed down their throats by the media. They don’t want to hear bands that use samples. They don’t want to hear bands that have tape players stop the background and the band walking around with their tail between their legs because they don’t know how to play. Fans want to see people play.
MR: I don’t know. I have no idea. In the 80s, everything became new wave and soft and family-oriented. That gave us stadium rock, and the songs became 10 minutes long. Self-indulgent 10 minute songs that should have been done 10 minutes before that. What happened to the good two-and-a-half-minute rock song? What happened to Chuck Berry, The Kinks, The Beach Boys? There are a lot of people that still wanna hear that kind of song structure. I have teenagers that call in to my radio show that tell me that, and I completely understand what they mean. And it’s not just that. A lot of these bands flaunt their money showing you their $10,000 clothing or this and that … I know fashion is important in rock, but it’s not what I’m about. What The Ramones were about is that kids should be able to dress up like the bands they like. That’s why we went with leather jackets, jeans and sneakers. Don’t hit me up with how rich you are. Who gives a f—?
PR: When do you think you’ll give this up?
MR: When the body tells me. I’ve been doing this non-stop for so long, I haven’t thought about it.
PR: Did you really own the car from “The Green Hornet”?
MR: It was a 1965 Chrysler Imperial, a two-door coupe. It was the one in “The Green Hornet,” the one Kato had to drive him around in. I got a lot of offers on it from museums and individuals. I had rebuilt the engine. It really kicked ass. Then the brakes went out on me while I was going 80 mph. I had to crash it into the weeds on a highway.
PR: Where were you?
MR: I was in Brooklyn heading toward Rockaway Beach. If the weeds weren’t there, I don’t know what would have happened. One of our roadies ended up under the dashboard screaming. That was in the 90s sometime.
PR: Do you get to just tell people off once you get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
MR: Nah. There were a lot of obstacles to us getting in. I was just happy to be the first band of our genre in the hall of fame.
PR: You’ve appeared on a lot of TV shows about punk rock. Do people look at you as a punk rock historian?
MR: Well I was there in the beginning, who else is around now? There’s me, Tommy (Ramone), Debbie Harry, Patti Smith … there aren’t that many left around. They either just gave up or have different lives now and didn’t wanna continue in this.
PR: Are you giving away all your secrets when you do those shows?
MR: No, that’s what the book is for. I’m writing my memoirs, and everything is going to be in there. It will have intimate things me and the other Ramones know about that other people don’t because they weren’t in our inner circle. There have been second wives, brothers or whatever that have written books, but they don’t know the true story. Whatever I have to say is the final word on all these books that have come out.
PR: What was wrong with the books about The Ramones that have come out?
MR: I’ve read them all, and most of them are exaggerated. They miss the facts. The one (Ramones tour manager) Monte Melnick wrote (On the Road with the Ramones), was just a bunch of people with quotes. Half of them I didn’t even know. That’s one of the things I do in the book is go through all of the books about the Ramones and critique each with a star system based on accuracy and informative aspects of it. the first one by Jim Bessman (Ramones: An American Band) was good. Just about everything else was exaggerated or made up by people who weren’t around. That’s why I wanted to write my book, to give the final word on the Ramones.