Life Goes On

Editor’s Note: This interview first ran in 2002.

Having worked on many records with a variety of artists, earning recognition in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and MTV’s Life Time Achievement award would be a dream come true for many musicians. But for punk artist Marky Ramone, the loss of two close friends had affected him more than winning some awards. But with the offer from the band the SpeedKings to record a new album, titled Legends Bleed Marky Ramone picked himself up and went to England to make a new record.

Jupiter Index: Tell us about your recent record and what was different for you on the making of this album?
Marky Ramone: Well on the death of Dee Dee Ramone and Joey Ramone; I really tried to do nothing for a while because I was in such a state of shock particular Dee Dee because I didn’t expect him to pass on. Joey I expected because you really can’t win over cancer. And some guys I knew in Europe who were big Ramone fans asked me to play on their album and I had just finished a tour with the Misfits, because I play with them also, and I had nothing to do [and] I really didn’t want to wallow in my despair so I went out there and made the album. And it kept my mind off the depression of the loss of two great friends who I have known for 25 years. Nothing got me out of the doldrums so I picked myself up, go to England, record the album and that was the result and they treated me great. I really enjoyed what I heard, I wasn’t going to do it unless I liked it because I’m in a position that I can choose because of all the years I have been in the [music] business. And I was really grateful to do it and of the fun doing it and getting me out of my temporary depression.

JI: How did you approach the writing of the songs for this record?
MR: Well Nick Cooper wrote most of the songs and I wrote two on the album, “Road Rage” and “Motivate to Move.” And one day I wrote a song about road rage and how ridiculous it is and “Motivate to Move” was about realizing that there is a lot of opportunity in the world and get up and get out and try to do something you enjoy. And to make stuff and believe in yourself and things can come your way.

JI: Who would you most like to work with but have not yet?
MR: I saw David Bowie the other night and he was great and it’s not my kind of drumming but if I had the style I would love to play with him. I would love to play with Paul McCartney.

JI: As a musician, what is the most difficult thing that you are confronted with at this point?
MR: As a Ramone musician, what is it like being in the Hall of Frame?, what is it like to be a legend?, what is it like to be famous? I tell them I’m only human and being a legend is part of what the media generates to probably sell more records and draw more people at your shows. I am just a guy from Brooklyn who was reared in a lower-middle class family and I just graduated high school and I tell them being in the Ramones was a great experience but we were all just looking to play music and that’s all it was, nothing more. The difficult thing about music is hopefully any band out there can be original, instead of imitating other groups and if people like you – you can still be in music for as long as the Ramones did, which was 22 years. Or the Rolling Stones who are coming on 40 years. To me that is the most important thing, maintaining your originality.

JI: In the last few years, the Recording Industry Association of America, the organization that is a special lobbying group for record companies, is working to control piracy on the World Wide Web. As a musician, how do you feel about the kind of work RIAA is doing now?
MR: One side is, the musician who writes and works hard in the studio and puts out a product should get paid for what he did; and, the other side, a lot of people who download [the music off the Internet] can be introduced to what that musician is doing. So you have so many arguments over this and eventually the copyright is going to set in because these people going to court and the judges have to stick to the rules. So in the long run the record companies are going to win or you never know a new invention could come up on the sites and if they do download they would have to pay something to the site itself. And part of that profit will go to the record company.

JI: Tell us what new creative projects you will work on?
MR: I will be touring all the way into the summer and doing my spoken word engagements as well. Also, I am working on a “Ramones Around the World” video that I produced of all back stage stuff and live shows and the inner circle of being a Ramone. And [the tape] is 90 minutes long and that is coming out in February of 2003.

JI: What keeps you going in your music?
MR: I always wanted to do it as a little kid and I loved seeing bands on TV and they always looked like they were having fun up there and I wanted to do that. And I started playing the drums because I saw Ringo Starr with the Beatles and I was very influenced by that.

JI: What are five records you have heard recently and why did you enjoy them?
MR: Oh wow, that is a lot of music. What I have been listening to is late 1960s biker albums, like “Easy Rider” and “Barbarella,” the movie with Jane Fonda, things like that because they have some pretty good songs on those soundtracks. Sometimes you have to go back to be influenced instead of going forward.

JI: Would you like to add anything else to what you have already said?
MR: Well, if there is any new band out there trying to get their group together, just remember originality is the most important thing because that will help your longevity. Believe in yourself and try to stay clean because the heavy alcohol things and the drug thing will destroy it.

by Gabrielle Burns, © 2002