Two words are about to appear before you. Those words are PUNK and ROCK. When you see those words, one of the first thoughts that will undoubtedly flash into your head is the Ramones. The Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned may also flash, along with Richard Hell, or Sid Vicious. You might think about injecting heroin. Or maybe you think punk rock is dead. The reason the Ramones appear among these initial thoughts is they are that formative, significant, and influential to the punk sound and movement. To 1978 we go, to Manhattan—315 Bowery at Bleecker Street, CBGB, where Dee Dee Ramone asked drummer Marc Bell to join the Ramones. Marc said yes, became Marky Ramone, and would go on to be the Ramones' mainstay drummer until their end in 1996 (with a break from '83 to '87 for "personal reasons"). Marky's drumming combines heft, speed, meter, and, most importantly, stamina—perfect for the Ramones. As the only surviving member of their iconic lineup, Marky is touring with a band fronted by Andrew W.K. and playing a set of more than 30 Ramones songs. Marky carries on the legacy because he feels the songs are too good not be played and experienced. He spoke from his home in New York with a low, sturdy, down-to-business Brooklyn accent. For a legend, I didn't expect him to be so sincere and courteous.
How did Andrew W.K. become involved with this current tour and band?
He was suggested by a friend who used to help run Studio 54, and he was interested. So we met up, and I gave him the set list that I wanted to do, and he rehearsed it on his own. Then he came to a rehearsal, and it worked. I didn't want a clone of any of the Ramones; I wanted a guy who could do it his way, engage the audience—he really pulls it off. So far, we've been to 12 different countries together.
You drummed with Andrew W.K. for a portion of his Guinness-World-Record-setting feat of drumming for 24 hours straight—a superhuman accomplishment.
Yeah, he'd been going for about two hours when I sat in with him. He was pacing himself. It was a fun thing. He did it—24 hours—the proof is there. It's a great record.
Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg with Andrew WK and Figo is at Neumos tonight!