Marky Ramone: The Culture Brats Interview

It was during a long hot New York summer, that we liked to refer to as our own little patch of hell, that I discovered the Ramones. After seeing the kind of effect the music had on our friends when we played it at our lame parties or how much it improved long trips into the city to see unknown bands in dingy dive bars, it became the soundtrack of our lives.

Today we sat down with Marky Ramone, the drummer and lone surviving member of the iconic and much loved band and chatted about fame, fans, and why he'd be great to have over during a cookout at your house.

Hi Marky, how are you today?
I'm great, how are you?

Doing well, thanks. I'd like to start off talking a little bit about this virtual autograph session (via IMAGE Personal Experiences) that's taking place this Friday. This is fascinating to me. It's like the fourth wall has come down and you are engaging directly with your audience. Tell me how this is going to work, because I'm sure there are many rabid fans out there that would love to get a face to face with you.
Definitely. Well, how's it going to work? I wish I had a really concrete answer to that but it's definitely the fifth dimension here. I think what they do is call in with some sort of video service from the internet, they Skype basically. Then I sign the autograph to the fan and then they have it and they absolutely know it's me signing it because I'm there in front of them. I guess at that point what I signed gets sent to them.

What's interesting about this is that there are so many bogus autographs out there circulating, that this whole process takes the guess work out of it.
That's right, because I've been a victim of that and other people have been duped thinking they got my autograph and it seems to make it more legitimate.

I agree. One of the things that seemed problematic as I was looking at it was once you get the face-to-face, I'm sure there are going to be some fans that don't want to hang up the Skype and let you go. You can't stay on for a half hour with each fan. Will you have a virtual bouncer there to pull the velvet rope and send them packing when time's up?
Well, I guess it depends on the situation.I'm sure that there's a certain amount of time that they are allowed because there are so many other people. So I'm guessing them seeing you signing the autograph on whatever item it is, they want a little hello and a thank you very much, etc. And then at that point an expert would come on so at least they'd see they got what they wanted. That was the reason why we are doing this.

Collectors and fans are going to be thrilled to be getting this kind of opportunity. But do you kind of worry about the advent and subsequent popularity of social media as a tool to level the playing field between the common folk and basically what are the rock stars/entertainers/actors etc. Do you think it lessens the value of actually catching that rare glimpse into that world? It used to be you went out there with stars in your eyes and you'd have to wait by the tour bus for a wave or a autograph.
Well the problem is that it's a worldwide thing and the United States is huge. So I really can't be ten different places at one time and a lot of people can't commute or get to see you. So in a lot of ways that really is the reason for this. It's just so accessible. Instead of somebody having to travel hundreds of miles to meet you where you are playing at a show, then you have to make sure everyone is okay backstage or whatever. There's a lot of reasons for this being better. But I know what you mean, the actual contact is something I always liked. Things, I think, are changing for the better because it gives more people more choices.

You're a pretty busy guy with touring and hosting the Punk Rock Blitzkrieg on Sirius XM Faction, so I guess something like this is ideal for someone who has his hands in a lot of different kettles.
What's great also about this is that it's just the start and who knows how far it can go. Not just with me but with other people. It's not just rock musicians, it's athletes, politicians, it's people who you never had access to who you wanted to have access to and now you can, if they want to do this. You know what I'm saying? To me, it's really opening up a new door concerning technology and it's pretty impressive. Looking back only ten, fifteen years ago, this would be unheard of.

You couldn't see inside that rarefied stardom bubble.
No, you couldn't.

You either had to find out where someone was staying and stand outside their hotel room or chase the bus. There was a lot of legwork involved! What will the groupies do?
I know. Either the hotel people won't let you inside and there's always some kind of skirmish. That's how it ends up a lot of the time, believe me. And then you feel bad because they are there to see you and get an autograph and meanwhile they've got into a whole hassle with the management of the hotel and then you've got security, so this makes it easier for a lot of people .

Agreed. And I think people who don't utilize the technology and embrace how social media has changed things do themselves a disservice because this is the way it's already gone.
It has. I mean, can you fight technology? Yes. But why fight it? You can live without it if you want, but it's a choice. Either you live with it or you don't. But it's everywhere.

I'm a huge Ramones fan since the early days.
Since what year?

'82 or '83 at least.
Those were good years!

I was really young.
Weren't we all?

If you actually had to pick five songs that defined the Ramones to you personally, what would they be?
Oh, man. "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Rock 'N' Roll High School," "Rockaway Beach." Let's see, um, something a little later. "Pet Sematary." "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker." There are just so many songs.

There are almost too many in the catalog to rifle through.
I know, I wish I could tell you the entire list.

I've heard that you are quite a good cook. Truth be told, you have an award winning pasta sauce: Marky Ramone's Brooklyn's Own Marinara Pasta Sauce. I've also heard it's mind-blowingly delicious. Truth be told, I like marinara, it's lighter.
Number two in The Wall Street Journal next to Rao's. In a side-by-side test, it did well. My grandfather was a chef at the Copa Cabana for twenty five years and then at 21, the restaurant in New York.

I was going to ask you if you stole your grandma's secret recipe or something.
Well, when my father told me to get out of the house at eighteen, I had to cook for myself. The cheapest thing was spaghetti but of course the ingredients weren't as good as what I'm using now. But you could live on that for a week so I remembered all that. I used to watch my grandfather cook in the kitchen as a little boy. It was like an art. So, I always remembered that and then I was approached to do this and I said, "Hell, why not."

I'm having a flashback of my Nana now. I'm getting a bottle of this sauce.

As soon as the virtual autograph session is over, you are headed right back out again to Pennsylvania to see fans live.
I think so. I know it's two days. I just got off a tour in South America, so I just got home and I'm trying to decipher the details of everything I have to do. So if you think that, then I'm sure it's going to happen.

Do you think you'll be doing more of these virtual sessions or is it a one time thing?
Yeah, if it works and everyone is satisfied with the delivery of the items and there was general happiness about the whole thing, I would do it again for my fans. Definitely.

Thank you for speaking with us today!
Thank you, take care!

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More IMAGE Personal Experiences: Official | Marky Ramone Signing

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