Originally published in The Lantern (Ohio State University student newspaper, April 1991)
“We’ve played Columbus since the beginning,” Joey Ramone, lead singer for the legendary punk band the Ramones, said in a recent phone interview. The Ramones will be in Columbus Saturday at the Newport Music Hall.
“I love it there, I want to reside there,” Ramone said with laughter. “Actually, I like Columbus, it’s a nice town.”
The beginning for the Ramones was in 1974 when a group of outcast teenagers from Forest Hills, N.Y., who all shared the same musical tastes, got together to form a band.
“We liked exciting music. We’ve been inspired by the greatest things that have gone down since the inception of rock and roll,” Ramone said.
Back then, the Ramones liked music that nobody else was really familiar with or would accept, such as Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, the Stooges, the MC5 and the New York Dolls.
“I think that the ’60’s was the most influential time in the history of rock and roll,” Ramone said.
The Ramones, then consisting of Joey (Jeffrey Hyman, vocals), Johnny (John Cummings, lead guitar), Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin, bass) and Tommy (Tommy Erdelyi, drums), were signed to Sire Records in 1975.
Much of their early notoriety came after playing successfully at legendary New York clubs such as CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. They took their “Ramone” name from Paul McCartney’s old alias, Paul Ramon.
In the last 16 years, the Ramones have pumped out 12 albums plus two greatest hits packages, “Ramonesmania” and “All That Stuff and More Volume 1.” “All That Stuff … Volume 2” will be released May 25th.
The band rose to cult status when they appeared in Roger Corman’s 1978 film “Rock and Roll High School.”
This year, the band will have a small part in “Car 54” which is based on the old television series. The band will also have songs in “Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll,” “Highway 61,” in which Joey has a small part, and, as long as the scene doesn’t wind up on the cutting room floor, “Terminator 2.”
Over the years, the band’s line-up has changed. Marky Ramone (Marc Bell) took over the drum spot in 1978, was briefly replaced by Richie Ramone (Richie Beau), and then returned while C.J. Ramone became the new bass player after Dee Dee left to pursue a solo career.
The Ramones have always relied heavily on touring. “The kind of band we are, we don’t just go out and support our albums,” Ramone said. “We’re always playing whether we have an album out or not.”
He says fans in Europe have a different kind of attitude, a real appreciation for bands that are innovative and original.
“Over there, we’re the big band. Bands like Warrant and Poison don’t really have a place,” Ramone said.
For the 1989 release “Brain Drain,” Stephen King personally called the band and asked them to write a song for his film “Pet Semetary.”
“It was a real honor,” said Ramone, who is a big Stephen King fan.
One of Joey’s favorite bands, Motorhead, also honored the band by recording a tribute song entitled “Ramones.”
“It is like the ultimate honor,” Ramone said about the song. “Motorhead are a total credible band, they’ve stuck to their guns they way we’ve stuck to ours.”
“To me, having Lemmy (lead singer for Motorhead) write us that song is like almost equivalent of having John Lennon write a song about us,” Ramone said. “I’m still blown away by it.”
Besides being a big Motorhead fan, Ramone listens to AC/DC, Faith No More, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction.
“I wasn’t crazy about them before (Jane’s Addiction) but I love the new album. It’s the most refreshing thing I’ve heard in years and it’s real creative and artistic. I think Perry (lead singer for Jane’s Addiction) is a genius,” Ramone said.
Ramone also listens to a lot of underground, unsigned New York bands including the Crown of Good, Joey’s real brother’s band.
“Punk music is bigger now than it’s ever been,” Ramone said. “The foundation of our sound has been adapted by Metallica, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Motorhead, you name it. Everyone that’s come out since the Sex Pistols has adapted our sound,” Ramone said.
Joey said being in a band has been satisfying on one hand and frustrating on the other hand. He feels the Ramones haven’t gotten their just due in America yet because they haven’t sold out to sell records.
And why should someone go see a Ramones show? Well, besides being able to hear such punk-rock anthems as “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” as well as countless others, Joey offers this. “I feel we’re a total experience for all the senses. When you leave a Ramones show, you’re totally satisfied. We’re going to pulverize your senses, it’s a total religious experience.”