Michael Macrone
Articles & Essays

Interview with a Rock God

Radio Radio Interviews … Johnny Ramone (July 22, 1979)

On July 22 of this summer [1979], the fabulous RAMONES played the Lunasea bar in nearby Taunton, Mass. These lovable pinheads are well known for their primal, glue-inspired (and brilliant) head-banging music, After the show, WBRU personnages Mike Macrone, Jeff Lesser, and Kris Kearney interviewed rock god Johnny Ramone (who co-stars with his musical siblings in the major motion picture release Rock ’n’ Roll High School); the resulting talk-stream is presented here for your reading pleasure.

( RR: Radio Radio Fortnightly ; JR: Johnny Ramone )

RR: When will the movie [Rock ’n’ Roll High School] begin playing on the East coast?

JR: It opens up Aug. 3 in New York at the 8th Street Playhouse...

RR: I’ve read a couple good reviews already … in Trouser Press and the New York Times ….

JR: Yeah, it’s good, it’s good, y’know?

RR: I’m looking forward to it. How’s the new album with [producer Phil] Spector coming?

JR: He’s mixing it now … we don’t know yet if it finished. We’ll probably hear in a couple of days ….

RR: So all of the tracks are recorded now?

JR: Yeah.

RR: How was it working with him [Spector]?

JR: Very good. We got along with him very well and we’re good friends with him … and the album should be out sometime at the end of the end of this year the year—we’re just waiting for the right time,

RR: Are you going to continue to work with Spector?

JR: Yeah, we’ll work with him again.

RR: Did you play something new tonight? There was a song in the first encore I really didn’t recognize … right before “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.”

JR: Yeah—“Chinese Rocks,” an old song which we wrote which we just recorded, which the Heartbreakers … covered—the New York Heartbreakers. [Ed. note: the Heartbreakers actually failed to give songwriting credit on their recording to Dee Dee Ramone with whom leader and ex-N.Y. Doll Johnny Thunders co-wrote the tune.]

RR: Yeah … I saw them play Max’s Kansas City ….

JR: Yeah, so they co— [tape recorder sticks and shuts off]

RR [after recovery]: It’s known as a cheap tape machine. Now we want to ask the most important ques— [machine shuts off once more]

RR [back again]: We also wanted to know how Tommy [ex-drummer Tommy Ramone] is doing in the institution.

JR: Oh, I think he’s recuperating; he’s recuperating … we paid him a visit and he was able to talk and all ….

RR: He wasn’t able to talk before he went in, was he?

JR: No, no … but he’s doing a lot better now [giggles].

RR: That’s good news.

JR: We were very happy—he’s making progress ….

RR: I hear you’re going to add synthesizer to the band. Is that true?

JR: No [laughs].

RR: No?

JR: Synthesizer? Where did you hear that? No ….

RR: Not for when you go on "Midnite Special" and play disco?

JR: No … I hate that show. It’s disgusting. You sort of need those shows but you don’t even wanna do them, y’know? It’s disgusting … you see everybody dancing around with [inaudible] on, y’know?

RR: [Tonight] was the most frenzied I’ve ever seen a crowd get—everybody was just giving back what you put out ….

JR: Yeah, they were good, it was fun … it was hot.

RR: You may not have the biggest fan contingent, but ….

JR: It’s growing, yeah.

RR: How’s Road to Ruin [the Ramones' late 1978 studio release] selling? Last time we heard [in January] it had sold 250,000 copies.

JR: That’s what you heard? [Laughs.]

RR: That was a long time ago …

JR: I don’t know, I really …

RR: Has it gone gold?

JR: No [laughs], no it’s not.

RR: Good luck. Are you going to continue playing these small club things?

JR: Well, we mix 'em up, y’know? When we do a regular tour we’ll play more of the big things … when the album comes out. This summer we’re not doing a tour, we’re just playing around. We went up to Boston and played the Paradise; when the album was out we played the Orpheum … so when the next album, with Spector, comes out we’ll come back and do the Orpheum or something like that.

RR: Why didn’t you release It’s Alive [a two-record live set unleashed upon Europe in June] in the States?

JR: I don’t know. We’ll mention it to them [Sire Records] … I don’t know, y’know? Have you heard it?

RR: bragging: I was over [in Europe] in June and it was the first record I saw … I have it memorized already.

JR: Oh, good. Uh, you know, we’ll mention it; we didn’t want it released there but they [Sire] put it out and now we’re glad that they put it out.

RR: Why didn’t you want it released?

JR: I don’t know. [Laughter.] Y’know, we figured we did it a year and a half ago [the concert was recorded at London’s Rainbow Theatre on New Year’s Eve to herald in 1978] or whatever so we didn’t want it out now ….

RR: Do you always have two opening bands? [Two groups, Providence’s "Mundanes" and Philadelphia’s "A’s", opened this particular date.]

JR: No, we try not to ever have two opening bands … I’d like to make it a point of never having two opening bands ever again. It tires tha audience out.

RR: They were still jumping around for you tonight. Great show. When you’re in Providence stop up to WBRU and visit us.

JR: Yeah … probably when we do Providence next time—we’ll probably be coming soon … I’d do Brown, y’know, again,

RR: The show was quite good last time [on Feb. 16 of this year at Alumnae Hall].

JR: Yeah, I like Brown, Y’know … we’ll see you soon, we’ll probably be back by the end of the year.

All: Great. Thanks a lot; great show. Good luck with everything. Take it easy. Bye.

– 30 –

First published in the WBRU-AM‘s Radio Radio (September 1979)

Radio Radio #5 (obverse) Radio Radio #5 (obverse)

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