WASHINGTON – The drummer who played the highest number of speedy eighth-notes with punk pioneers The Ramones returns to Washington, glancing back fondly, but charging toward the future.
“I haven’t played the D.C. area in a while, and I can’t wait to do it,” Ramone tells WTOP.
Marky’s new band is playing 34 Ramones classics. The Ramones last show was in 1996.
Joey Ramone died in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone in 2002, and Johnny Ramone in 2004. Original drummer Tommy Ramone is now a record producer.
Marky, whose given name is Marc Bell, joined The Ramones in 1978, before the Road To Ruin album.
Ramone acknowledges it’s different playing with the outgoing Andrew W.K., who calls himself “The King of Partying” than the quiet outsider Joey Ramone.
“I didn’t want clones of The Ramones in the band. I wanted people who had their own personalities and weren’t imitating,” says Ramone.
“I’m not here to compete with The Ramones. That I’ll never do. I just want to play the songs to keep them alive because they’re too good not to be played,” Ramone says.
The Ramones disbanded in 1996, after 22 years of touring, with record sales far below the band’s impact on generations of musicians.
The digital future
iTunes, with its focus on digital downloads, became popular five years after The Ramones broke up.
“The Ramones, if they came out in today’s digital age, who knows,” says Marky Ramone.
“The music business changes, and you have to go along with the change, because with the digital age there’s a lot of things I like about it,” Ramone says.
Active on Twitter Ramone engages in online chats, as one way of connecting with fans.
Ramone was the first musician to participate in a virtual autograph signing session, in which musicians interact with their fans using internet video.
Fans who pay for an autographed item will also receive a video clip showing Ramone signing the item.
“It’s like Skype,” says Ramone. “Let’s say you sign an 8×10 photo of yourself, or drum sticks, or a drum head – the person who’s seeing it is buying it, so at least you know it’s authentic.”
Ramone’s next Interactive Meet and Greet Entertainment event is Nov. 3.
Even with the possibilities of technology extending the ways musicians can connect with fans, Marky Ramone is looking forward the oldest form of communication – a live concert.
“There’s a certain kind of connection. It’s an intimate environment, and I like that sometimes.”