MY INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY RAMONE OF
UNCLE MONK IN 2010
Copyright 2010 -> for everything on this page by Jari-Pekka
Laitio-Ramone and Tommy Ramone.
I do mention first of my earlier interviews with Tommy Ramone. You can
find Tommy's long interview from my Rock In Peace:
Dee Dee And Joey Ramone book and opening text written by Tommy and his
3 interviews from my third book Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives book.
Ramones: Soundtrack Of Our Lives feature Tommy Ramone interviews of the
Ramones, his studio works, and Uncle Monk. Also the book contains a long
discussion between Tommy and Seymour Stein (founder of Sire Records) about
the early days of the Ramones.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION OF THE UNCLE
Tommy Ramone's and Claudia Tienan's duo band is called Uncle Monk.
Interview in Ramones: Soundtrack Of Our Lives is 2,5 pages long and
it has things of Uncle Monk
in 80's and of current Uncle Monk. This is only about what is current
with Uncle Monk. You can visit Uncle Monk homepage here.
Lot information you can also find from my
Uncle Monk section.
The debut CD for Uncle Monk was available on March 16, 2006. The CD has
14 songs and you can buy it
The musical style was a bit of a surprising mix for some
Ramones fans, and also for many others, a refreshing acquaintance. Uncle
Monk is an alt-country bluegrass with some other influences as well.
Tommy said that there are a lot of
similarities between punk and old-time music.
Questions and answers 1-3 are from Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives (you can buy it from Interpunk (USA)
Questions and answers 4-9 are new which Tommy replied in April, 2010. I
did this interview to promote Uncle Monk's first tour in Europe in
April 29-May 8, 2010.
People in Ireland and North Ireland are lucky ones to welcome Tommy and
Claudia to Europe.
1) Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone: Let's talk about the Uncle
Monk CD released in 2006.
Besides the guitar, you do play mandolin, banjo, and dobro on the
tracks. How long have you been playing these instruments?
Tommy Ramone: I have been playing these instruments since 1994-1996. I
liked that kind of music. I also have always wanted to take this music
and put it into a rock or a pop band; but as I was doing that through
the years, I realized that it was more fun just playing it acoustic. I
enjoyed playing acoustic and it sounded better acoustic.
So from the beginning of new Uncle Monk, it was just the two of us,
Claudia and me.
This is because I didn't want to get a drummer and things like that.
That's too much of a hassle. So, I decided to make it so that we could
do it just the two of us. Make it simple, we can travel easily and it
2) Jari-Pekka: What new challenges have you experienced
recordings? What instrument was the most challenging for you?
Tommy: All bluegrass instruments are challenging. I have spent many
years learning these instruments, practising, and I enjoy them very
much. The mandolin has no sustain so one has to develop new techniques
to compensate for that. The banjo has a drone 5th string and is totally
different from the guitar. The Dobro, uses a slide and is in open
tunings, the fiddle has no frets; but they are all rewarding to play as
they make wonderful music.
Some days after the show at the BB King
Blues Club in New York, USA on October 17, 2007, Tommy and Claudia
wrote: "We just did a show with the legendary Earl Scruggs at the
King Blues Club. We cannot put into words the feelings that we
experienced having the honour of meeting him. We also got to meet his
sons Randy and Gary, what a wonderful night!"
3) Jari-Pekka: Tommy, it has meant a lot for you and
Claudia to play as the opening act
for Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs. Stanley is the survivor of the
Stanley Brothers, one of the few remaining figures of the first
generation of bluegrass musicians.
Tommy: Right, Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs are two pioneers of
bluegrass and we were very lucky to have a chance to open for those
classic, great artists. It was wonderful opportunity. Something that
no-one could have imagined would have happened. It was just incredible.
They were really nice people and very friendly to us and they were
great shows. We had a great time.
4) Jari-Pekka: What I guess, Ireland is probably best
area in addition to Scotland to start Uncle Monk journey in Europe, when
you go back to bluegrass related history in Europe?
Tommy: We are really looking forward to touring Ireland. The Irish are
huge music fans and it is a beautiful country. Yes, bluegrass music has
it's roots in Ireland among other countries so we are really thrilled to
be going there.
We will be traveling through the beautiful country and maybe we will
have time to see some sights, we have a tight schedule so we will try to
enjoy as many things as we can.
5) Jari-Pekka: Uncle Monk has not only bluegrass
Tommy: Yeah, I want to make clear is that Uncle Monk is not a
bluegrass act. We are an indie-acoustic duo that has been influenced by
bluegrass and old-time music as well as alternative and
I saw the fourth Uncle Monk show at the
Parkside Lounge in New York on May 15, 2006. It was an intimate acoustic
show at the Parkside Lounge. I have to say it was a bit confusing for me
to just sit and watch the show of a Ramones member. You know what I
mean? Uncle Monk doesn't play music in the rhythm you can pogo to etc.
My feelings were happy after Tommy counted off the show with 1-2-3-4,
and Claudia and Tommy played first traditional bluegrass song My Long
Journey Home. It was a faster song before we heard the next beautiful
ballad Mean To Me from the Uncle Monk CD.
6) Jari-Pekka: Do you choose some certain traditional bluegrass songs
to the set
because shows are in Ireland/ North Ireland? Some shows you have played
in the USA are lasted around 70 minutes. Do you think sets in Europe
are for example 45 or 60 minutes?
Tommy: We will be doing our usual songs with maybe some extra lyrics to
some. We will be doing some new songs in our set. We don't have the show
schedules yet but should get them soon and I will let you know how long
the sets are when I have them.
7) Jari-Pekka: You are going to include to the set also
your wonderful bluegrass version of (Ramones song) I Wanna Be Your
We have been doing the song in our sets, so there is a good
8) Jari-Pekka: Are recordings of second album got
finished? When you expect record coming out?
Tommy: We keep coming up with new songs so we keep recording. We hope to
have it finished soon, but there is no set date yet. Our new record will
have some unique songs on them mostly based on our lives and
philosophies. there will be indie songs, bluegrass songs, old-time
songs, romantic songs, and unclassifiable songs.
9) Jari-Pekka: Are there any new instruments you use in
a studio when you record second album (in addition to first: guitar,
mandolin, banjo, and dobro)?
It is mostly the same instruments but we are better musicians now so we
can do more with them.
TOUR DATES IN IRELAND/ NORTH
Uncle Monk shows in Ireland/ North Ireland are listed below:
1) April 29, 2010, Whelan's, 25 Wexford Street, Dublin, Ireland.
2) April 30, 2010, The Crane Bar, 2 Sea Road, Galway, Ireland.
3) May 1, 2010, Dolans Pub, 3/4 Dock Road, Limerick, Ireland.
4) May 2, 2010, Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Also playing for example: Jason & The Scorchers, Ben Reel Band, Caitlin Rose,
Pete Molinari, Josh Ritter And The Royal City Band, The Duke And The
King and Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit.
5) May 3, 2010, Colfer's Pub, Carrig On Bannow, Wexford, Ireland.
6) May 4, 2010, DeBarras, 55 Pearse St., Clonakilty, West Cork,
7) May 5, 2010, The Pavilion, 13 Carey's Lane, Cork City, Ireland.
8) May 6, 2010, The Deers Head, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival,
North Ireland. Show begin: 8PM. Also playing in that festival for
example: Sharon Shannon, Sly And Robbie, Basia Bulat, Kevin Doherty and
9) May 7, 2010, The Playhouse, 5-7 Artillery St, Derry, North
10) May 8, 2010, Barry's Public House, Grange Co. Sligo,