By Steve Newton
Whether you remember or not, May of 1983 was a great month for historic rock concerts in Vancouver.
On May 9 Roxy Music played the Pacific Coliseum, performing tunes from its final studio album, Avalon. Then on the 25th a little band from Ireland named U2 played the Queen E., blasting out political diatribes like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day” from its new album War. Lucky locals still talk about that gig in revered tones.
I missed those shows for one reason or another, but the one I did make it to that month was the Ramones at the Commodore, which went down on May 6, 1983. The band was touring behind its new album, Subterranean Jungle, which included the video-single “Psycho Therapy”.
What I remember most about the show was beanpole of a singer Joey Ramone hollering “One-two-three-faw!” really fast before a wall of deafening guitar chords kicked in–with some bass and drums thrown in for good measure. The guy creating the six-string racket was Johnny Ramone, who I’d talked to over the phone from San Francisco a week before the show. I wouldn’t say it was my finest moment as an interviewer–some of my questions sound just plain dumb–but hey, it was 1983.
And besides, it’s punk, so who cares?
How would you describe the sound of the Ramones?
We try to play wild, entertaining, aggressive music.
Would you say that you’re a punk band?
I guess so. It depends on what you mean by punk. To me, Elvis Presley was a punk, and the Rolling Stones in the beginning were punks. But if you’re talking about some sort of fashion, I don’t know.
Are the Ramones brothers?
No. It’s just a name. Like the Osmonds.
How did you come together?
We’re friends. We live on the same block. It’s just something we always wanted to do.
Who were your influences when you first started out?
I’ve always liked George Harrison and things like that, but I never sat down and tried to figure out his playing. I like current guitar players like Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Johnny Thunders. And I like the guy in the B-52s–he’s good.
You don’t do any extended lead solos with the Ramones.
No no, that’s really a thing of the past. That was already done in the late sixties when everybody was on drugs or acid. That’s not how rock and roll’s supposed to be.
How is rock and roll supposed to be?
It’s song-oriented. I mean, jazz is supposed to be long, drawn-out solos. Not rock and roll. Rock and roll is two, three-minute songs.
What do you think of today’s dance-oriented music, the modern synthesizer movement?
I don’t like it at all. It’s just like disco music. It’s too blatantly commercial, nothing real. It’s not rock and roll or anything, just a corporate new wave.
Is it the same kind of thing the Ramones were rebelling against when they first started out?
Yeah, more or less. They’ve just come around and are playing the same thing again, but with a new wave look.
Why did MTV ban the video of your new song “Psycho Therapy”?
I don’t know. They thought it was too violent. They wanted some things cut, so they put out a new edited version. They were supposed to show it, but I haven’t heard anything about it yet.
Did you enjoy working on the  Roger Corman film, Rock and Roll High School?
It’s good looking back at it: it’s a good fun film. But it’s work, you know, same as anything else. You had to get there early in the morning and sit around all day waiting to say something.
How did you come to record “Time Has Come Today”? It’s an old Chambers Brothers tune isn’t it?
Yes. We heard it on the radio and it just seemed like it would be good. It’s the type of song that everyone really liked.
On Subterranean Jungle you also do the old Carter/Lewis song “Little Bit O’ Soul”. Did you come by it the same way?
No, that was one we always wanted to do if we ever got around to it. The Music Explosion did it.
How do you like being in the Ramones?
It beats working, huh? You know, it’s just something I always wanted to do. It’s fun.
How do you like Vancouver?
It’s a great place Vancouver. I like Canada. There’s a good rock and roll/punk type following there.
To hear the full audio of my other interview with Johhny Ramone, from 1992, subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
…with hundreds more to come