INTERVIEW: Richie Ramone
As drummer and occasional singer/songwriter for The Ramones between 1983 and 1987, Richie Ramone has already achieved much in his musical career.
However Richie has not been one to rest on his punk rock laurels. Since his departure from the iconic band after a five year stint he has been immersed in music; playing with other bands, composing music and working on his own material under the Ramone moniker.
With his new album, “Cellophane” due to be released in May, Richie is taking to the road for the umpteenth time in his career. We caught up with him ahead of the Irish leg of his tour which will see him stop in Voodoo, Belfast on February 12th.
Your solo album, “Entitled” was released back in 2013. You recently announced that you had started recording its follow up, “Cellophane”. What can we expect from the new material?
“This one was recorded with my touring band and has a great live element to it. We are mixing it while I am on the road, and should be released around May. A video and single will be out 3 weeks before the release date. This album rocks!”
What will fans get a taste of on this tour? Will your set contain any Ramones classics or will it focus on the new material.
“I like to mix my new material, songs I wrote with the band and Ramones classic songs in my show. I think it makes for a very exciting evening. You will leave exhausted but still wanting more.”
You still perform under the “Ramone” name as do both CJ and Marky. Do you feel it is important to keep the Ramones legacy alive?
“I think it is important to be true and honest and not be a phony. As a solo artist now, I write Richie Ramone records and don’t try to sound like the Ramones because they can never be duplicated.”
Joey Ramone clearly thought a lot of you. He is known to have described your arrival in 1983 as breathing new life into the band. But how did you feel joining a band who had already cemented themselves as the iconic godfathers of punk?
“I was a kid and never really thought of that at the time. I went to the audition, did my job and the rest is history. Joey became a real inspiration, and pushed me to write and be an active part of the band. I miss him.”
You were the only Ramone (apart from the man himself) to feature on Joey Ramone’s posthumourously released album “Y’know?”. How did you get involved in the project?
“Mickey, Joey’s brother, asked me if I wanted to play a few tracks on the album. I gladly accepted and I think it turned out great. It was kind of strange hearing Joey singing in the headphones as I was tracking the drums. It felt like he was in the room with us. Very eerie.”
Of course “Y’know?” is only one of many projects you have worked on in more recent years. You not only drum, but sing, write, tour and compose music for stage production. What element of your musical career do you enjoy most?
“Touring is probably my favorite because I get to hang with all the fans. I come out front immediately after the show to greet everyone and hear what they have to say. It’s important to listen to them. I also enjoy eating and drinking all the local flavors.”
The Ramones were known for their intensive touring schedules. You racked up over 500 gigs during your time as their drummer. What was that experience like?
“Again, I love the touring part of my work. There are so many stories to tell, but I would need a bigger piece of paper. We were a wild mix of characters who all had their own personalities, but when you put us on stage, we became one.”
My favourite Ramones song is one which you actually drummed on; My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg).What is your favourite Ramones song that you were involved with or otherwise?
“One of my favorites is Havana Affair. I like the more aggressive Ramones songs and I actually do that one in my show. Somebody Put Something In My Drink is ranked high on my list also. It’s hard to pick one or two favorites though as there are so many great songs to choose from.”
Perhaps one of the most iconic songs which you penned for The Ramones, “Somebody Put Something in My Drink” remains a fan favourite. How does it feel to see the music you created with The Ramones continue to inspire new generations so many years on?
“It’s amazing to see how they still appeal to every new generation coming around. I think their music is timeless and never sounds dated. That’s a sign of great songwriting.
Richie Ramone plays Voodoo, Belfast on 12th February, Voodoo Lounge, Dublin on 13th February and Lulu’s, Dungannon on the 14th February.