By Jason Delgado
Marc Bell has been known as Marky Ramone since 1978, when he became the drummer for the influential punk band the Ramones. Often cited as the first true punk rock group, and recognized by Spin magazine as the second greatest band of all-time (behind only the Beatles, who inspired the Ramones’ name from Paul McCartney’s use of the pseudonym of Paul Ramone during his Silver Beetle days), the Ramones played exhilaratingly intense yet melodic, short songs at a breakneck speed. Marky Ramone got his start with the band on their fourth album, Road to Ruin, that produced one of their biggest hits (and my karaoke go-to song), I Wanna Be Sedated. Forever linked to both New York City and Spider-Man (which you can read more about in my Spider-Man: Far From Home review here), the word legendary doesn’t do enough justice to the Ramones wild and crazy journey.
Marky Ramone has appeared in the Simpsons, Roger Corman’s film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and briefly in the horror punk band the Misfits. The Ramones and the Misfits have both left an indelible mark on fashion and music, while bands like Green Day and the Offspring have said that they wouldn’t exist without the Ramones.
Here is a transcript below of my interview with Marky Ramone:
JD: It’s an honor to be with you here for this interview, Marky. So what horror movies, or movies in general, are you into?
Ramone: Well, I like Pumpkinhead, Aliens, the first Godzilla, Ray Harryhausen stuff, the Howling. Let’s see, I like most of the old Universal horror films. I like Hellboy, a lot of different things.
JD: Definitely. As you know, the Ramones have only grown in popularity over the years, how do you feel Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee…(I was going to ask how he thinks they would’ve felt about that fame, since some punk groups are against popularity and becoming “mainstream,” but Marky interjected).
Ramone: You mean about me being the last one left?
JD: Sure (I wasn’t going to argue with a Ramone, much like when Stan Lee wanted to sign my comic in a different spot than I had asked him to).
Ramone: I feel that the songs are too good not to be played, and I play them in my band (Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg) all over the world. There’s other people who call themselves Ramones (Ritchie and CJ), and they really haven’t proven themselves to toe the line, so here I am.
JD: I love your single (from 2009), When We Were Angels.
Ramone: Yeah, with Michale. Michale Graves, the frontman, singer/songwriter who was in a band called the Misfits.
JD: I saw you play with the Misfits back in the day in Orange County.
Ramone: No, they played with me.
JD: Yeah, they played with you.
Ramone: It was Dez (Cadena) and Jerry (Only), it wasn’t the Misfits. Now they did the right thing (by reuniting with original frontman Glenn Danzig), it’s a reunion band. Kids want to see the original members, so, you know, they weren’t doing anything for years. You go for the money, while you can. You need money, so you reunite the groups, you know what I mean. That’s why there’s all these reunions now.
JD: If the Ramones were still alive do you think they would…
Ramone: No, no reunion. We didn’t believe in reunion bands, I’ll tell you, because we were at our peak. Now if we were to form twenty-three years after me, Johnny, and Joey retired, how could you be as good as you were at that moment? So when you see these reunion bands, they’re nowhere near what they were when they stopped. You can tell they’re doing it for the money, that’s really it. Obviously you need it, and in life, if you’re going to do something, do it because you want to, not because you have to. It’s the same thing with Guns and Roses. There’s better copy bands that play better than them and the Misfits.
JD: (laughing). Are there any new bands that you’re into, up and coming bands?
Ramone: Well I like the Gallows out of England, I like the Arctic Monkeys. So I have two radio shows on SiriusXM, I gotta hear all this stuff.
JD: I’m so glad your shows are back. I remember when they took your show off the Faction channel on SiriusXM (and how upset myself and many other subscribers were at the time because it was the only place on the radio for punk rock).
Ramone: Now there’s two of them, 24/7, you know what I mean.
JD: Definitely. I love the documentary about you guys called End of the Century. I saw that you were a bit of a prankster in that film. Do you have any funny prank stories?
Ramone: Yeah, we always used to dump water on our tour manager’s head when he walked through the door. Oh, I’m sorry, road manager.
JD: (laughing). I gotta tell you this story. I went to New York a couple years ago with my wife and because of the song Rockaway Beach, I called an Uber because you guys said, “it’s not far, not hard to reach” in the song, but it is! (laughing – an hour and a half, and $80 tab each way later).
Ramone: It is.
JD: You guys were just pranking everyone (laughing).
Ramone: You gotta go over the bridge, or take a train. Yeah, I wouldn’t live there.
JD: (laughing) Yeah I found out the hard way.
Ramone: I like it, but I wouldn’t live there.
JD: (after an interruption from a fan, we switched to a more serious gear). I really admire (singer) Joey, when he was sick with cancer, how he recorded the beautiful cover version of What a Wonderful World with you.
Ramone: Right, he was still in the hospital. We took him out of the hospital, then we brought him to the studio in Jersey. We did the basic tracks with Daniel Rey, me and Daniel together. Danny added the bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, and then Joey did the vocals. After that we brought him back to the hospital.
JD: Wow. Was he really that optimistic about life up to the very end?
Ramone: You gotta be. I mean naturally body and mind take over, it’s a human instinct.
JD: I really admire that about him.
Ramone: Look at Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy. It’s not just Joey. You know, all the other three Ramones besides Joey.
JD: Yeah, you’re right (I was reminded that they were strong too facing the end of life, with Johnny and Tommy succumbing to cancer, and Dee Dee of an accidental overdose). If Dee Dee were still around, do you think he’d try his hand at rapping again?
JD: (laughing) Yeah, he was so bad the first time.
Ramone: There’s better rap artists. But there’s nobody better than Dee Dee Ramone.
JD: Yeah, well I love you guys and your work, I hope you’re back in Orange County again sometime, I’d love to see you play again.
Ramone: Thank you. Yeah, maybe I’ll do a special show in LA or something, the last one I did was for a charity, I want to do my own show.
JD: Do you have anything else you’d like to tell Friends of Comic Con Blog?
Ramone: Yeah, two radio shows with SiriusXM. On the SiriusXM internet, go to the app, print in my name or channel 712 and the music is 24/7. Plus I have another one that’s on the radio on Sirius, it’s on channel 31, the First Wave. Check out the app, print in my name, and find both channels.
Ramone: Good book, the most comprehensive.
JD: I just started reading it, great book, I can’t put it down.
Ramone: Thank you. It took five years to make.
JD: Wow. Thank you for your time Marky.