CJ RAMONE'S INTERVIEW IN THE GREAT SOUTHERN BRAINFART (FOR EXAMPLE ABOUT
CHANCE TO JOIN THE METALLICA)
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Copyright 2011 -> for everything in this page by The Great Southern Brainfart and Jari-Pekka
I have informed often on this my Ramones homepage how CJ Ramone has supported succesfully Walk Now For Autism event
in 2009, 2010 and 2011. For many years CJ wanted to be home dad because of his son and I didn't told reason as
CJ wanted to keep information private of his son. Now for some years CJ has explained how well son is
doing. Like in October 2011, CJ wrote to my news after Walk Now For Autism event:
"For everyone that doesn't know, my son Liam is autistic. That is why I do this event. This organization puts
a large percentage of it's budget into reaserching the cause of this disease.
See ya'll on the big road! Ramones forever!"
Btw, if you read from my Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives book CJ's memories of our Joey, there is a bit also of it how shortly after the
Ramones disbanded, CJ
turned down a chance to audition for Metallica. CJ not wanted to do it because of his son. This tells
something about CJ's heart.
And in September 30rd, 2011, was published CJ Ramone's interview in The Great Southern Brainfart, where he tells
more. Read interview below.
Blowin' Wind with Former Ramones Bassist CJ Ramone: "I was approached
about joining Metallica not once but twice." (2011).
20 years ago, Christopher Joseph Ward was given the opportunity that any fan of any band can only
dream about. Ward would become known and loved by fans as CJ Ramone and for seven years injected
some youthful energy and fun into the Ramones. CJ also became a huge part of the heart and soul
of the Ramones.
I was lucky enough to talk to CJ from his home in NYC and we talked about his opinions on the
Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, his love for metal and reggae music and how it is being back on the
road after many years of absence from the scene. This was a real treat for me and I just know
you all will love this one. Sit back and enjoy it! Hey Ho Let's Go!
1) CJ, Thanks for doing this man! How are things in NYC today?
CJ Ramone: Man, not too bad. It's a little overcast today but it's not too bad!
2) Are you loving this cool weather or what? Time to bust out the
CJ Ramone: Oh yeah. This was a pretty brutal summer [laughs].
3) You just wrapped up your "American Punk" tour and and the show here in
Atlanta was so much fun. How much fun was it to get back out there on the road after so
CJ Ramone: Thanks a lot. This tour was a long time coming. I had kind of sworn off doing any
kind of Ramones thing for the longest time. 2009 was my 20th anniversary of joining The Ramones
and I just wanted to go out and do some shows just to celebrate that and celebrate the music of
The Ramones. It turned out to be a really good time and people dug it a lot and after we did
those first couple of shows the requests for more shows started rolling in. We kept it rolling
and it just took on a life of its own so I'm just going with it at this point.
4) You brought back the spirit of The Ramones but you did it in your own way and
made it a really cool experience. I've heard a lot of mixed emotions from fans. What kind of
feedback did you get from the fans on this tour?
CJ Ramone: For the most part it's been really positive as far as the fans that I've talked to and
the reviews that we've been getting. I know there have been some comments from within the
Ramones organization saying that we were just a cover band or something but ya know what? I
really don't care. I love The Ramones. I was a huge fan before I ever joined the band.
can call it whatever they like but I'm just trying to keep the legacy going and give some of the
fans who weren't even born or were old enough to see The Ramones the opportunity to hear these
songs live. I feel like we really capture the energy of The Ramones. I'm not saying that in any
way, shape or form that we sound or look just like The Ramones. I sincerely believe that we've
done a good job capturing the energy. Realistically every show is just a celebration. It's just
me celebrating with the fans how great The Ramones were. That's really how I look at it. They
were one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rock n' roll band of all time. To me it's just a
shame for all the fans now to not get an opportunity to get to at least hear some of what The
Ramones were like live.
5) As a long time fan I thought you did it right CJ. I also have to say that as
a fan, I get frustrated and even jaded over all the negative press, litigations and lawsuits so
it was nice to see you just out there reminding everyone that it's about the music and those
CJ Ramone: Thank you man. Since the Ramones retired there has been so much negative stuff going
on. There are all these books and documentaries about how Johnny and Joey hated each other and
who has control now and who's part of the organization and who's not. There's been so much drama
and bullshit. For a band that was so awesome and made so many people happy and to have all that
greatness reduced down to a soap opera to me is just so pointless.
What made the Ramones great
had nothing to do with their personal relationships between each other and the people around
them. It had to do with the music and the scene. That's just another reason for me to get out
there and keep doing this to remind people that all that stuff doesn't mean anything. What
counts is what they put down on vinyl and gave to their fans musically and in the live show.
Everything else is just bullshit.
6) Speaking of the documentaries, have you been approached to do a book about
your story as a member of The Ramones?
CJ Ramone: I actually have been working on a book for a long time. I'm in no way an author so
it's taking me a really long time [laughs]. I tried writing it with somebody else but it didn't
sound good to me in somebody else's words so I just sat down to write it myself. Life being what
it is, I have three kids now so I write when I can so I'll finish it when I finish it. I was all
concerned about deadlines and worrying about a book deal but then I just realized I just have to
put all that stuff to the side and concentrate on writing. My experience with The Ramones was
totally different than everyone elses. My experience was awesome. I went from being in the
Marine Corps to being in The Ramones. It was a great experience but it definitely wasn't all
candy canes, sunshine and the Easter Bunny [laughs].
There were some negative things about it.
My book will just be my take on it and my take on it was awesome. It was really really fun. It
will be more of the lighter side of touring than everything else. Most of the things I've seen
on the Ramones are either bashing Johnny or talking about Joey being OCD. The two most
ridiculous, meaningless things and I'm like really? C'mon.
7) CJ, you pretty much lived the dream of any fan of a band by getting to be a
member of The Ramones. Can you tell me about how you felt when you got the call that they wanted
you in the band?
CJ Ramone: Oh man. Well, I got the call while I was in military jail [laughs]. It was pretty
interesting. Just to have Johnny Ramone calling you while you're in jail alone was surreal to
say the least. The only way I can really describe it is imagine if you got that phone call and
were told that you got the gig. That's what I always try to get across to everybody. I was a
fan just like you and every other Ramones fan so to get the opportunity to be in the band, I'm
sure you can relate just how that would feel it would have been you. It was nothing I could ever
dream of happening in my life.
8) In 2002 The Ramones were inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. You
not present for the ceremony and it left some of us fans scratching our heads. What happened?
CJ Ramone: Ya know, I have been asked about that before and honestly, I do not give a shit
about the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame [laughs]. It is just a bunch of fat old men in suits. I do
not need a pat on the back from them. Johnny and Joey told me what my contribution to the band
was and what I meant to the band. The fans have told me me what my contribution to the band was
and what I meant to the band and I am comfortable with that. That is all I ever really gave a
shit about. I was never into gold records and all that horseshit. That is the stupid end of the
music business that feeds peoples egos. I am totally comfortable and happy as hell to have been
part of The Ramones legacy, doing what I did with them and getting to be friends with guys I used
to idolize. The last thing I need is a pat on the back from anybody.
I appreciate what the fans
have to say and I appreciate it when I hear it from my peers. That means the world to me but the
Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame? Who gives a shit? Look at the bands they induct. It is not even the
Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame anymore. It is the Music Hall of Fame [laughs]. They put shit in there
that has nothing to do with Rock N. Roll.
9) Speaking of your former band mates, on this last tour, you played a new song
called "Three Angels on My Shoulder." It was a really great and touching dedication to Johnny,
and Dee Dee. What else can we expect from the album?
CJ Ramone: Thanks man. The album really is a tribute to The Ramones. I did not sit down and
say, "I am going to write Ramones sounding songs." I wrote it as a tribute to Johnny, Joey, Dee
Dee and Tommy. It was my moment of thanking them for everything they did before I came along and
for all the great times I had in my life as a fan. It is a lot like a Ramones record. It has
everything from the Joey and Dee Dee type of pop love songs to more of the hardcore style stuff.
These are songs that I have written over the course of the last couple of years and I am really
excited to get it finished up and get it out. It'll be called "Reconquista." That is kind of how
I see this album. It is me kind of taking back a little bit of my musical life.
I have not liked
any new music for a long time. The stuff that is considered punk rock for a long time just has
not moved me. The bands look like punk rock but they do not sound like it. The Ramones music
started a revolution once before so I am kind of hoping by me going out and playing these songs
that maybe I can get something fired up again with these kids who are kind of getting re-schooled
on what punk rock really is.
10) Yeah, I agree. To me punk rock was more than just mohawks, piercings and
leather. Punk rock was more attitude than anything. The Ramones songs were just good solid rock
n' roll songs but with that attitude. I mean, even the Rolling Stones could be more punk than
most punk bands out today.
CJ Ramone: Absolutely. I always say that if you look back in music, Elvis Presley was a punk.
Jerry Lee Lewis was a punk. They were just guys who said, "Fuck You" to everybody and to what
everybody thought about music or what was appropriate. They just went out there did their own
thing and that is what a real punk is.
11) When the Ramones called it a day back in 1995, you guys really called it a
day. How do you feel about bands who reunite with only a few and in some cases zero original members?
CJ Ramone: It really depends on what they are doing and how they are putting it out. The New
York Dolls just went out this summer with Motley Crue and Poison. I was thinking to myself, "Holy
shit. How the hell could the New York Dolls ever be considered in the same category as Motley
Crue and Poison?" I understand the marketing concept of it. Get the New York Dolls in front of a
crowd of people who like that glam thing and maybe they'll gain a couple of fans out of it. Some
bands like them get back together and they have got a couple of new guys and a couple of original
members or they bring in a couple of guys from that same time period and scene. To me there is
nothing wrong with that.
12) As a member of The Ramones, you did three great studio albums and the live
"Loco Live." My personal favorite was "Mondo Bizarro." That album gets hated on a lot and I just
do not get it. What was your personal favorite Ramones album that you were a part of?
CJ Ramone: It is funny because I really like that one. The only album that I completely hated
that I was a part of was "Loco Live." I thought that one was terrible [laughs]. I liked all of
the albums that I played on. The fact that I got to sing some songs that Dee Dee (Ramone; former
bassist/songwriter) wrote and a lot of the songs, particularly Joey's songs and Dee Dee's songs I
really liked them a lot. I liked the records I played on but when I think of my favorite Ramones
records they are the first 4 for 5 records. Those are the records I grew up with.
I meet fans all
the time that tell me that they are favorite album is "Mondo Bizarro" or that their favorite song
is "Scattergun." As they are telling me this I am thinking, "Jesus" Have you heard the first
couple of albums?" [laughs] It really depends on what you hear and where you are in your life.
13) That is so true. The first Ramones album I ever heard was "Road To Ruin."
will always be my favorite Ramones album but I really loved those later albums you were a part
of. I also loved that as a metal head I could connect with them, especially on "Mondo Bizarro"
where The Ramones were almost crossing into that world a bit. It was such a heavy album. Speaking
of metal, I heard that you were approached by Metallica to replace Jason Newstead.
CJ Ramone: I was approached about joining Metallica not once but twice [laughs]. When Jason
first left the band they approached me. A while had gone by and they were having a hard time
finding someone so they approached me again. At the time my son had been diagnosed with Autism
and there was just no way I could leave him. Johnny (Ramone) was actually the one who hooked me
up with the audition because he was friends with Kirk Hammett. I talked to my son's doctor and
explained the opportunity and that I could bring my family out on the road and even hire a nurse.
The doctor just told me that my son needed to wake up in the same place every day, he needs to
have meals at the same time every day and he needs to go to school everyday and be around other
kids. He said that anything other than that could be a detriment.
I was honored that they asked
me but there was just no way I could do it. The beautiful part about it all is that now my son is
in regular classes at school. He is on the high honor roll and he is even starting his own band
now with a couple of friends of his. The change in him from when he was a kid is amazing. I am
not taking credit for it all. There were a lot of people who helped him along the way. If I had
not been here, I do not know that the outcome would have been as good and that totally justifies
my decision. I have no regrets. It would have been great to play with Metallica after being in
the Ramones. Jesus, that would be just like a too perfect life [laughs].
14) One can only imagine what that sound would have been!
CJ Ramone: Oh yeah. Believe me, it would have been great. I would have really enjoyed it. I
have always been a huge metal fan. Black Sabbath is absolutely my favorite band of all time. I
loved all that really dark stuff. Playing in Metallica would have been a second dream come true
but like I said, things worked out really good for my son and I have no remorse and no regrets.
15) Kudos to you man. I am glad your son is doing awesome and ready to rock out
CJ Ramone: [laughs] Yeah. That is funny because my daughter is a cellist and a piano player
and he is also a major punk rock fan. She is wanting me to teach her how to play bass. It is just
funny that my kids who were completely uninterested in the fact that I ever played music when
they were younger are now totally enamored with it and are looking to be rockstars themselves at
some point. It is actually gratifying for me. The fact that the first time they saw me play live
was on stage at MSG with Pearl Jam in front of thousands probably had something to do with it
16) How did your son's battle with autism change your life for the most part?
CJ Ramone: I would like to say that there was some big moment where the clouds parted and the
sun came out and knowledge fell on me. Honestly, I approached that situation the way I approach
most things in my life. When he was diagnosed, there was no mourning process or tears or sorrow.
I was actually relieved and my first question was, "What do I need to do to give my son the best
shot that he is going to have?" In my life, that is just how I approach everything. I would like
to say that there is some big spiritual lesson in there but for me it is just a lot of hard work.
Any situation you come to in your life can be overcome by just blocking out all of the emotional
"whoa is me" and felling sorry for yourself and just concentrate on the work part of it. Instead
of looking at the problem so hard, look for the solution and while it may not be spiritually
fulfilling, the gratifcation you get at the end knowing that your hard work paid off is worth it.
That is really how I do most thing whether it was auditioning for The Ramones or learning that my
son was autistic or the military. I know that is probably not the best sounding answer but really
for me it was just about hard work and doing what needed to be done.
17) CJ, let's have some fun bro. I always try and ask some fun questions to mix
things up because I know you probably get asked the same ones a million times. What is the one
question that you makes you want to scream every time you get asked it?
CJ Ramone: There is really nothing that I hate getting asked. There are questions that I have
been asked a million times but they are questions that everybody wonders about. Like "How did it
feel when you got asked to join The Ramones?" [laughs]
The only questions I really dislike are
when people ask about personal relationships with Johnny and Joey and how did I feel about it.
That is people's personal lives ya know? They say, "When you become a public person, you then
make your personal life public." To me that is a media created thing so that they have this
opportunity to ask whatever the hell they want. In my opinion, I do not think the fans really
care about that. Me, as a fan, I do not care about that stuff. If I like their music, that is all
I care about. Do I care if they have a thing for transvestite prostitutes? No. That is not my
business and I do not care about that.
Do I really care about Angelina Jolie adopting a kid
Africa? Does that make me think that she is a great person? No. It makes me think that she has a
good PR person who makes sure she is doing the right thing [laughs].
18) CJ, at what point did you know you wanted a life in music?
CJ Ramone: The bands that made me say, "I wanna play bass and be a rock star" was Black
Sabbath and Iron Maiden. It was those two bands that made me want to do it. I started wearing
knee braces because I had a growth spurt and it tore up all the connective tissue in my knees so
I could not play sports any more. I told my dad that I wanted a bass guitar. The first band I
ever played in I was like 13 or so. It was just some friends of mine who got together and had a
band and needed a bassist. We played everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath. Whatever we
could technically handle, we played. We would do The Cars, Joe Jackson. We did the craziest mix
of music [laughs]. We did a bunch of Rush songs, and even did some Yes. If we could play it, we
played it. When you are first starting out like I was, you just play what everyone else is going
to play and that is what I did. We did not even have a name [laughs]. I loved it and that is when
I realized I really loved playing.
19) That is awesome. I am a huge Maiden fan.
CJ Ramone: Oh yeah. Most people do not believe I am a metal fan. When The Ramones were on
tour with White Zombie back in 95 or 96, one day their guitar player J (Yunger) came into our
dressing room. We were talking and I told him I was a huge metal fan. He did not believe me so I
told him, "Name any Iron Maiden song off of the first three albums." He started naming them and I
just started playing them. I probably had not played a lot of them since I was 18 or 19 years old
[laughs]. He was going for the really obscure older ones like "Genghis Khan" and what not and I
was just busting them out one after the other and he says, "Alright." You are a metal head.
20) You always seem to make time for the fans after a show by signing stuff,
photos and talking to them. Over the past few years, bands like KISS, Alice Cooper and Testament
have been charging their fans for the opportunity to meet them. What is your opinion on this.
CJ Ramone: Honestly, I do not blame them and I'll tell you why. What is happened in the music
business is because of the free download thing it is basically turned bands into t-shirt salesmen
and entertainers. A huge part of the market has been cut out. When the digital download thing
came around it completely gutted the marked. It really did. Now everyone is trying to find a way
to make up for lost profits.
Do I think it is cool to charge the fans? Not particularly but it
also depends on what you are giving them. To sit down at a table and charge people for autographs
is kind of eh, ya know? I sign autographs on the way out to the van and if I stop and sign an
autograph for free, why should I come in and stand across a table from them and charge them? If
they are doing something where the fans pay to come in to sound check and go out to dinner with
the band and get backstage passes and stuff like that, I think that is ok. It is still kind of
weird though because you are charging people to hang out with you.
If you are charging
just to come in and get autographs, no way. You owe that to your fans but something like having
them at sound check or to have a meal with you, then you are sacrificing your personal time. On
the road you have very little time where you just get to relax and I am not talking about the
time you sit in the van traveling. That is not personal time. Meal time, hotel room, that is
personal time so when you start sacrificing that, I can see charging people for it because now
you are making your entire day work. Your gut reaction to hearing something like that is always
like, "Oh man, what a scumbag. The fans make your career possible." That is absolutely true and I
totally understand that but at some point, you have to draw the line.
21) Aside from being a metal fan, are there any bands or styles of music that we
would be surprised to hear that you are a fan of?
CJ Ramone: Oh man, I listen to everything. I am a huge reggae fan. At home I listen to a lot
of reggae. I am also a huge country western fan. I am a music fan. I am do not just dig one
thing. I am a music fan and I love music. I love classical music. I listen to a lot of old
country and one of my all time favorite artists is Johnny Cash. I love all that old stuff. Hank
Williams, Patsy Cline. I totally love it. I love rockabilly. I just love music and that is why I
keep playing because it is what I love.
22) I am the same way. I do not really like specific genres of music. I just
good music. If it is good then I'll love it and listen to it.
CJ Ramone: That is what I try to teach my kids. It does not matter what music you listen to.
There is always someone that does it really well. There are certain types of music that I do not
like. Like I do not like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. I do not dig that stuff at all [laughs]. It
is mindless music that people who are not so deeply into music can listen to, it is unoffensive
and they dig it. I understand that there is a place for it but personally, I ca not stand it
23) If Hollywood were to call you and tell you that they were making a movie
your life, who would play you?
CJ Ramone: [laughs] Ah man. [laughs] Oh that is a tough one. Let me think. Man, this is a
good one [laughs]. Maybe Ed Norton. That is the best one I can come up with [laughs].
(PHOTO IN RIGHT: The Brainfart who did an interview & CJ Ramone in
Atlanta, GA, USA in
24) CJ, if you could do it all again, is there anything you would do
CJ Ramone: I wish that I would have learned to read and write music. I wish I would have got
more into the theory side of it. I also wish I would have written more songs while I was with The
Ramones. That would have been cool. Not for the money or anything but because I feel like the
stuff I put out like the Bad Chopper record and my new record, I wish I would have had some of
these songs while The Ramones were still together because I think it would have made the albums
that I played on even better. For the most part, I do not really have any regrets though.
25) So what can we expect from CJ Ramone in the rest of 2011 and into 2012?
CJ Ramone: I am going to get this new CD finished up and recorded and get that out and I am
going to hit the road early next year and start touring again. There is one thing that we did not
really talk about and I never really had a chance to explain it to the fans as to where I was all
these years and why I was not out touring. My personal life just got super complicated for a long
time. I was caught up in a lot of stuff and it was difficult. Just as of late things have cleared
up some. Things have got a lot less complicated and I am hoping that 2012 will be the year that I
get back to doing music as much as I'd like to. With my luck, 2012 will be when the world ends
[laughs]. I really am hoping that I will be able to take it on full on. I just want to be able to
do this as much as I want to.
26) CJ, I can't thank you enough for doing this. This has been a real honor and
a treat. I am really looking forward to the new album and we'll have a beer next time you get to
CJ Ramone: Absolutely man. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.
This CJ Ramone's interview is published in The Great Southern Brainfart
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