THE RAMONES TRIBUTE BAND
INTERVIEW by LUCY HELL for MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC
LUCY: Hey ho, let's go. You guys have taken on a daunting task—to play and pay tribute to one of America’s greatest rock & roll bands.
Tell us why you chose The Ramones.
THE DUDE: The Ramones to me were life changing. I first heard "Pet Sematary" when I was 14 or 15-and it blew me away. I had just been getting into metal and thought how cool it would be to make music. The Ramones assured me I could.
CHRIS: I think we all got into the Ramones around the same time, even though we all weren’t good friends at the time. Mike, Paul & I grew to be close friends over the years and were all doing different things musically and never really played in a band together before. It just ended up falling into place naturally. Let’s get together and have fun playing songs from one of our favorite bands.
PUDGY: You just said it. One of America's greatest rock & roll bands. However I would also add "under appreciated" to the description.
LUCY: What is your earliest memory of hearing/experiencing The Ramones?
THE DUDE: A buddy of mine in high school kept telling me about this band called the Ramones and how he had heard a wild song called "Warthog" (funny I didn’t think of that coincidence until now!!!) on this album called Ramones Mania, but we never had a tape player handy to check it out, so I was still clueless on what this band was. On the night my mom was taking me and some friends to the movies to see Pet Sematary I heard that song on the radio for the first time and it just ate my brain right up. Within 2 days I went to a local record shop and got that 3 song tape, (it also had "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" and a song called "Life Goes On"). To this day I still possess this cassette to remind me of how they changed my world. See up until then the only music I knew was what my older siblings listened to: The Who, Cheap Trick, and Iron Maiden. I still love those bands today, but none of them had the impact That The Ramones’ Pet Sematary had.
CHRIS: I remember hearing of the Ramones throughout the 80s. I remember seeing Joey with his mom on the Geraldo show in '89 and that is about when I first started listening to them.
PUDGY: I saw the music video for "Pet Sematary" when I was 15.
PAUL: It was my sophmore year of HS, and it was Mike who turned me on to them.
LUCY: What has the audience reaction been like so far?
THE DUDE: Real good. At every show there is someone who has never heard us that digs what we do. They like the fact that we are not copying them. That we add our own twist to the music. The coolest compliment so far had been from Joe Jack Talcom of the Dead Milkmen who heard us on myspace and liked the energy. That blew me away cause I’m such a huge fan of his.
CHRIS: It’s like a Ramones show was, people jumping up and down and singing every lyric!
PUDGY: It's been good so far, but more is always nice.
PAUL: Our friends love us very much !!!
LUCY: Has anyone ever taken offense from your act, as if you were messing with something sacred?
THE DUDE: To be honest no. Everyone that has either seen us play or listened to our myspace digs it.
PUDGY: Not yet, screw em if they do.
LUCY: Are you guys playing the same make of instruments as The Ramones?
THE DUDE: Well at a couple of shows, our bass player had to bring mics and they were shures which I know Joey used. Other than that no. Paul plays guitar left handed and to our knowledge they don’t make left handed Mosrites. Give Chris time. He may find a Mosrite bass. To be Honest I can’t think of what kind of drums Pudgy possesses, but he does have a Mosrite (but it’s right handed so Paul can’t use it …)
CHRIS: This kind of goes along with the whole image thing. A lot of tribute bands try to look like the band they are saluting. We do a very loose visual interpretation of the Ramones. We are about giving out the energy and feel of the music, which was the most essence of the band.
PUDGY: I use the same drum setup as Marky. But, I use pearl drums, DW stands, Sabian crash cymbals, and Zildjian hi hats and ride.
PAUL: No way!! Have you ever seen how much they want for a left handed Mosrite. Mike is pretty much the closest.
LUCY: “Warthog,” written by Dee Dee is one of our favorites on Mystery Island and a great choice for your band name. In one of the books that Dee Dee wrote (can’t remember which) he said that he felt he would die on stage if he had to keep playing “Warthog” live, because it was just too damn intense.
How do you feel personally about the song “Warthog”?
THE DUDE: "Warthog" is pure brilliance from start to finish. I never connected the animal to drug use but Dee Dee was a weird guy like that. The first time I heard it I said what is he saying??? It took me years to figure out the words to that one. He was such a great songwriter. I remember that quote in his book. He used to hate that song. At the last Ramones show he didn’t even sing it, he opted for "Love Kills" which he forgot the words to. But it’s a fun song to bounce to. And I think C.J. did a great job singing it after Dee Dee left.
CHRIS: One of the reasons this song is so great is because it was a bit a-typical of their other songs at the time, and yet it was a sign of songs to come.
PUDGY: I've always liked the song and loved the album it's from. Although I have always been a bigger Joey fan at heart.
LUCY: Besides, “Warthog,” what are your favorite Ramones songs?
THE DUDE: Oh so many: "Glad to See You Go," "Pet Sematary," "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," "Poison Heart," "Love Kills," "Timebomb," "I Don’t Want to Live This Life (Anymore)." I could go on and on, to be honest I know some people don’t like some of their later stuff. I love all of it, not every song, but a lot of them.
CHRIS: That’s tough, there’s so many! "Beat on the Brat" & "Pinhead" are two of my most favorite songs to play. "Bonzo" and "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" are two of my more favorite to listen to.
PUDGY: The first 4 albums, Pleasant Dreams and Mondo Bizarro are all must haves for me.
PAUL: "KKK," "Slug," "Commando," "Bonzo."
LUCY: Tell us something funny/strange that has happened at one of your shows.
THE DUDE: I have a couple. At a club called the Skybar we were going into "Chinese Rock" and Pudgy kept starting the wrong drum beat. This happened 3 times before Chris looked at me and said you know which tune we’re playing right, and Pudgy realized his cymbal was covering that one song in the set list. Another time recently I had way too much too drink before a show, not that I was forgetting words or anything, but I must of almost hit Paul with my mic stand about a dozen times. I completely lost my set list. My mic cable kept getting tangled up in Chris’ bass cable, and with my baseball bat I managed to knock over one of Pudgy’s cymbal stands. I’m a fun drunk front man.
CHRIS: A group of people on a pub crawl dressed in formal wear like they came from a prom or something came in one night--very odd!
PUDGY: I tried wearing a black wig and mirrored sunglasses at our first show ... that was the last time I did that.
LUCY: What Ramones song have you not yet done that you really want to power up as a part of your show?
THE DUDE: "I Don’t Want to Live This Life Anymore," "Strength to Endure," "Timebomb," "Gimmie Gimme Shock Treatment," "It’s a Long Way Back to Germany," "Somebody Like Me." It goes on ...
CHRIS: "Havana Affair."
PUDGY: I'm always a fan of the lesser known songs like: "I Dont Wanna be Learned," or "Yea, Yea."
LUCY: What do you guys think of The Monkees? What do you think about them getting blocked from the so-called Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
The Dude: Well I’m kinda on the fence with this one. On one aspect, they should be cause they were huge almost neck and neck with the Beatles back in the day, and I did see them play live once and they put on a great show. But on the other hand the early popular stuff wasn’t by written them nor really played by them, but that shouldn’t keep them out. They proved themselves to be a real band in the end, right?
CHRIS: Although I am not the biggest fan, they wrote their own songs, played their own instruments, and had major industry support, so it doesn’t make much sense. Then again it’s no surprise. Rock ‘n Roll has been against the institutionalization of anything, so the R ‘N R hall of fame is a bit of an oxymoron.
BRAD [editor interrupting here]: They're just morons, especially Jann Werner. Fuck Rolling Stone Magazine, too.
PUDGY: Sorry I was never into the Monkees. I used to watch the show when I was little.
LUCY: What’s your favorite comic book or superhero?
THE DUDE: I used to be a big comic geek. I’ve since calmed down a little but still read a bunch. I’m big fan of Batman (when he’s the conflicted dark knight one, not the campy one). I’m a big fan of X-men, not in the last 10 years or so. I’ll pick some here and there but as a kid Wolverine was the shit. I’m also a big fan of The Walking Dead. And I’ve been trying to pick up anything having to do with Bruce Campbell--cause he’s awesome.
CHRIS: Animal Man.
PUDGY: As far as traditional superhero I'd have to say Batman. Otherwise Goku is my man.
PAUL: Bruce Campbell.
LUCY: Do Marky and Tommy know what you guys are up to, any word from the surviving Ramones?
THE DUDE: No. Part of that is on me. I figure these guys must hear from guys like us all the time, so I just do my thing. If I ever get the chance though I would ask them what they thought of us. I know Marky had some issues some years back when bands started covering full albums and he didn’t see the point of it. I think Mr. T experience actually put on their version of End of the Century “as if Marky was an original member.” We do this to have fun, and all the shows we’ve played have been that. If it ever becomes un-fun I won’t do it anymore. These aren’t our songs. We’re just paying tribute to one of the greatest rock bands that ever walked the Earth.
PUDGY: Not sure.
PAUL: Shhhhhh, don't let Marky know. He'll start looking for his cut or wanna sing a song.
LUCY: If you could say anything to Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny right now—-what would it be?
THE DUDE: Thank you for some great music. I wouldn’t have gotten through my teenage years without you guys.
CHRIS: Thank you for being an inspiration!
PUDGY: Thank you ... enough said.
PAUL: Thank You.
LUCY: And thank you, guys, and good luck out there.
WARTHOG MYSPACE :: RAMONES: WEIRD TALES REVIEW
“Warthog Interview" by Lucy Hell.
Edited/formatted by Bradley Mason Hamlin. © 2008 by Mystery Island Publications. Published: 11.18.08.
All rights reserved.
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