TOMMY RAMONE AND SEYMOUR STEIN VISITED IN FINLAND IN OCTOBER 2008

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Copyright 2008 -> : Text and photos: Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone.

Original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone, Seymour Stein and Jonathan Poneman were main guests and speakers in Musiikki & Media conference in Tampere, Finland on October 23-25, 2008. Musiikki & Media conference is the biggest annual Finnish music trade fair for people in Finnish recording, publishing, live music and media industries etc. Seymour Stein is a vice president of Warner Bros. Records and a co-founder of Sire Records, original and long lasting label of the Ramones. Jonathan Poneman is another founder of famous Sub Pop label. Sub Pop achieved fame in the late 1980's for first signing Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney and many other bands from the Seattle music scene.

As you know, Tommy Ramone is original Ramones drummer etc. Tommy was visited in Finland only once before, 31 years earlier, when the Ramones played first time in Finland in 1977. Then the Ramones played shows in Tampere and Helsinki which is capital of the Finland. Tommy and I (Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone) E-mailed many times in advance of his trip to Finland. I tried to give him lot information in advance, that I would know how to help him. I tried to be as good assistant as I can for Tommy. I know that it is not easy to travel to new city and country. I was only person whom Tommy knew well of Finnish people in advance. I had been in same situation many times, like how great hosts has been for me Randy Wisebrod and Shazz Carrington in San Diego and Toronto (where they lived before), Maria Montoya-Kaye in Los Angeles, David Kelly in New York, Arne-Johan Martinsen, Azzy Prytz and Rosa Correa in Norway etc.

Tommy Ramone and Seymour Stein arrived to Finland in October 23, 2008. I met some of my friends in hotel lobby and then Tommy saw me. It was great meeting. I and Tommy wasn't met for sixteen months at live. We went to restaurang because Tommy wanted eat a bit before his first interview in Finland. That was made by Jay Burnside (Jarkko Jokelainen) of The Flaming Sideburns band. They had great discussion. Jay is longtime Ramones fan and in past he was made interviews with few other Ramones members as well. Jay Burnside asked from Tommy for example of Tommy's feelings of his role in Ramones in early days and of it how the Ramones created their sound. Tommy said that all of them worked hard and he was organising things and made suggestions of certain ideas. Tommy explained how the Ramones wanted to take anything extra away what they didn't need in music.
Tommy got tired of touring and for it how hard it was to tour and be 24 hours a day with three different kind of personalities (singer Joey Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone). Tommy anyway wanted to keep working with the Ramones and he was happy that they also in 1980's wanted to make with him Too Tough To Die album (as a producer). Tommy and Jay Burnside also spoke how Joey's whole life was pop music etc. Tommy Ramone's and Claudia Tienan's duo band Uncle Monk was also one subject.
Jay Burnside asked from Tommy an autograph for a card which was signed before by Joey, Johnny, CJ and Marky Ramone. Also he asked autographs for Ramones debut album and Leave Home album. Another of them will be framed to the wall of bar called The Loose in Helsinki, Finland. This interview by Jay Burnside was published already in next day (October 24, 2008) in biggest Finnish daily newspaper called Helsingin Sanomat.

I knew that Tommy has a jet-lag because time difference between Finland and New York is seven hours. But he said for me that it is a good time to go and see city. In next 1,5 hours we wandered in many places and when Tommy saw some names of the companies, he recognized similarities of Finnish and Hungarian languages. Tommy has born in Hungary and Finnish and Hungarian really are a bit relative kind of languages. Tommy had nice sightseeing. He liked to see old buildings. We also visited some stores that he would see Finnish products.
I left some of my items for Tommy's hotel room before I went to the house of my friend Arska. Arska's current band is The Voodoo Nights. I was hoped that new live CD by Walter Lure would have arrived for me before this trip. But its release date was a bit postponed. CD is recorded in Berlin, Germany in April, 2007. I, Arska and our friend Simppa were in that show in Berlin (read story of that trip here). Walter Lure's live CD was released few weeks later in November, 2008 by Italian label Nicotine Records.
Tommy Ramone and I were decided to meet in hotel lobby before going to the opening event of Musiikki & Media. During that night I got chance to introduce Tommy for some festival organisators etc. I hope they would get Tommy's and Claudia Tienan's Uncle Monk duo to play in Finland. Before Musiikki & Media event I was asked if Tommy and Claudia would like to play some shows in Finland around that event. Claudia wouldn't have got chance to travel to Finland.

Tommy Ramone, Seymour Stein and Jonathan Poneman were brought to Finland by Musex company (Music Export Finland). Everybody in Musex staff was really friendly in Tampere. Later that night Sami Häikiö and Ville Kilpeläinen of Musex wanted to take Tommy, Seymour, Jonathan and some other people to have lunch. Later that night Musex people wanted to take Tommy, Seymour, Jonathan and some other people to have lunch. It was good event and Musex organised everything greatly. People were eating and chatting with time, around 2,5 hours. Then Tommy and Seymour got chance to talk also with time and it was special for me to meet Seymour Stein for the first time. Tommy introduced me to him. I and Seymour were planned to do an interview one year earlier. But because of changed plans and scheludes it got then cancelled.

Next day (October 24) Tommy and I went to have lunch together. Tommy had that day many interviews which were organised by Musex. Really lot people asked in advance from me if they would meet Tommy, play music of their bands for Tommy or do interviews with him etc. etc. Most of the people understood my situation. I did not wanted to make plans and schedules for Tommy, because for him was booked already so many things and interviews. I wanted Tommy to get an good impression of Finland and that he can also relax a bit. I anyway decided to ask from Tommy if he would write dedicated autographs for some of my friends and for some who would have wanted to meet him. He was happy to do that. I also asked Tommy to dedicate for me some Ramones CD's and sawblade shaped Ramones 7' singles. German label Empty Records released a saw-blade (shaped CD and 7' on colored vinyl) split singles in 2001. They has first demo recording of Ramones' song Judy Is A Punk and in the other side is New York Dolls song Human Being. First pressing of the vinyl is half blue - half red and second pressing is half white - half red. Tommy wasn't seen those before. He thinked they are bootlegs, but they aren't.
Tommy also signed some more of my Ramones books (Heaven Needed A Lead Singer: Fans Remember Joey Ramone and Rock In Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone which you can also order from me, send a message for more information). Then we started doing new interview for my third Ramones memory book. I wanted to ask Tommy's feelings and memories of some special Uncle Monk shows. Like I knew that it has meant a lot for him and Claudia Tienan to play as a opening act for Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs.
- Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs are two pioneers of bluegrass and we were very lucky to have a chance open for those classic, great artists. It was magic to that happen. They were really nice to us and we had great time, said Tommy.
Tommy asked if I was seen Bonnie And Clyde movie. Earl Scruggs was for example in a band called Foggy Mountain Breakdown in 1940's-1960's. They were in Bonnie And Clyde movie.
Tommy explains things longer in that interview version which comes to my third book. It was also interesting to hear of first "version" of Uncle Monk. Tommy said that they played then as a trio around two years. Did you recorded then any demos?
- Yeah, we recorded some demos in 80's but no-one is not going to hear them, laughed Tommy.
Tommy said that it is wonderful that Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee has tribute events.
- I am always happy seeing fans and signing autographs.

I was calling with my friend Sipe of Apulanta band in that day. Sipe said that he is coming to Tampere to do an interview with Tommy. Sipe and Timo Isoaho made that in a same time. Sipe is also a long time Ramones fan. Sipe played drums when I, Sipe, Heko (Rehtorit, Ne Luumäet), Martti (Luonteri Surf) and Tommi Kurki (ex-Rehtorit) recorded Ramones cover songs SLUG and I Wanna Be Well in 2002. SLUG is released in Ramones tribute albums Todos Somos Ramones (Argentina, 2005) and All Good Cretins Go To Heaven - A Tribute To The Ramones (Germany, 2005). So Apulanta is Sipe's band. Apulanta's nine records has gone straight to number one in official Finnish album chart after their release and their eighteen singles has been number one in official Finnish single chart.
Timo Isoaho invited Tommy and me to come to see record release party of J. Karjalainen's and Veli-Matti Järvenpää's record under name Paratiisin Pojat. They played manysided way different kind of country, traditional and roots song. J. Karjalainen and Veli-Matti Järvenpää played Finnish versions of some old blues songs from 1930's-1950's. Tommy liked of Paratiisin Pojat a lot. After show ended, Tommy talked a bit with J. Karjalainen and Veli-Matti Järvenpää. Their record was released by Poko Rekords. Tommy also met shortly founder and boss of the Poko Rekords, Epe Helenius, who saw Ramones shows in 70's. Week later Epe wrote to me that he and Tommy were met also in London in one another seminar. Karjalainen was explained to Epe how much Karjalainen was liked of Tommy's comments of their music.
Then was time to go to the event organised by Musex. I had for that event two tickets. One of my friends had to cancel his coming and I started calling my other friends. I took to that event with me Kukka (Jari Kukkaisniemi) who is also big Ramones fan. Kukka was in town and he got chance to come to that event in few hours. I knew how much it meant for him to meet Tommy and chat with him. Before Tommy left, I wanted to take photo of Tommy Ramone, Seymour Stein and Kukka together. When I was going to take it, I saw singer Marko Annala of Mokoma trash metal band. I asked Marko also for that photo. Ramones memory interview with Marko Annala and Mokoma drummer Janne Hyrkäs is coming for my third Ramones book. We made it in November, 2006. I and Kukka went to see The Wildhearts this night at live. I was not seen The Wildhearts before.

Tommy Ramone's and Seymour Stein's seminar discussion was in Saturday on October 25, 2008. They spoke 45 minutes publicly. Jay Burnside (that same guy who made interview with Tommy before) was leading an discussion. So that seminar discussion was part of the Musiikki & Media conference. Tickets for Musiikki & Media cost in advance 400 euros and if you bought them in final week, they cost then 600 euros. There was in Musiikki & Media mainly business people from Finnish recording, publishing, live music and media industries etc.
After that seminar discussion was Ginger of The Wildhearts really happy to spoke with Tommy and Seymour some minutes. Then they were in hurry because Tommy and Seymour had TV interview for Finnish TV2's program called Musiikki-TV. After that Seymour and I made first part of our interview for my next book. Just like Tommy, also Seymour was all the time really friendly for me in Tampere.
Later that night was gala event where Tommy and Seymour were special guests. In that event were announced and awarded the most best music event of Finland, best gig place, best promoter etc. It was nice event. I was spoke with Tommy and Seymour that they would like to see that night Hanoi Rocks at Pakkahuone/ Klubi venue. Sadly it was only 9:30PM and Hanoi Rocks would start to play 3 hours later (after midnight). HIM manager Seppo Vesterinen took them to the Pakkahuone. I understood that Seppo does take care of Tommy and Seymour. When I went to Pakkahuone, I noticed that club was sold-out (I had ticket) and I did not found Tommy or Seymour. I saw a bit Ismo Alanko Teholla line-up and then also Underwater Sleeping Society. I was then still searching Tommy and Seymour. I called for Tommy for his hotel number. Tommy was already there because he and Seymour had early flight next day. I wanted to say again many thanks for Tommy before we ended our call.
Soon after our call one of my friends told where he was seen Seymour Stein sitting. I went there and Seymour was sitting alone. I couldn't understand why Seppo Vesterinen was left him alone in a club. Seymour wasn't visited at Pakkahuone before and he did not where were some certain things there. Tommy and Seymour had seen a bit Ismo Alanko Teholla line-up before Tommy left. Seymour Stein liked a lot of Disco Ensemble band. Disco Ensemble is energetic group which played as a first Finnish band in Warped Tour in summer 2008. Rubik played in another stage than Disco Ensemble and I took Seymour Stein there and I found for us good place to sit. We watched together Rubik before was time to go to back another stage before Hanoi Rocks started their set. Seymour Stein watched first 4-5 Hanoi Rocks songs before he felt too tired. Seymour has born in 1942 and many 66 years old people has not found energy which he has got. Also he had early flight in next morning. Hanoi Rocks had informed while before that they have decided to break up by the end of the year 2008. Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy feel that they've taken the band as far as it can go. It was big honour to meet Seymour Stein and talk with him lot. I think we communicated well and I found out how friendly he is. We promised to keep in touch via E-mail. I took Seymour Stein out of the club and I searched for him an taxi before was time to say goodbye. I watched Hanoi Rocks set to the end. Tragedy song finished their encore...
After Hanoi Rocks I met again with Ginger. Ginger wasn't seen yet my first book Heaven Needed A Lead Singer: Fans Remember Joey Ramone for what he also wrote text. I gave it to him and he wanted to buy my second book Rock In Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone For my third book I took photo of his Ramones tattoo.

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Copyright 2008 -> : Text and photos: Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone.

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