Cave Hollywood’s David Kessel shares this about The Ramones

Myself and Cave Hollywood are proud to display Harvey Kubernik’s story on The Ramones, which also features his own archive interviews with Punk pioneers, Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone

Slug 7 inch vinyl picture sleeve Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy Sire Warner Bros Records

Slug 7 inch vinyl picture sleeve
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy Sire Warner Bros Records

In 1975 in LA, as the Glitter scene was fading out, there was a sense of yet another change happening in music and it’s associated culture. There was a

lot of action that we were hearing about coming out of London, and then New York about a new scene called “Punk Rock”. I immediately could see an emergence of a real Rock ‘N’ Roll revolution. You didn’t need to be super talented, but you had to have attitude and rawness. Songs could have only 2 or three chords. No big record deals (yet), self releases, Fanzines, and word of mouth promotion.

When the first Ramones album came out, it hit me like a Punk Rock “Meet The Beatles”, coming out of left field and galvanizing a whole new generation ready for musical rebellion against over produced sappy, meaningless music being churned out by record companies. I went to their first ever gig in LA at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in 1976. I saw the very first show and brought enough people, so we could applaud loud and long, to make sure they did an encore at their first show and first performance in LA. My good friend Rodney Bingenheimer, “The Punk and New Wave DJ” on KROQ introduced me to the band. I told them that I absolutely loved what they were doing musically and culturally. I also mentioned that my brother and I were working steadily with Phil Spector in the studio, and with Phil Spector Productions in general.

We got Phil down to the Whisky A Go- Go where the Ramones played LA the 2nd time they returned, along with Rodney Bingenheimer. A little time went by, and when they were returning to LA again, we all thought it we be cool to record a record with the Ramones backing Rodney as the vocalist. The song picked was the Beach Boy’s song “Surfin Safari”.

Joey Ramone said he would also like to record a song he was working on called

“Slug” that he liked a little more than the rest of the band. So we booked Gold Star Studios in Hollywood upon the bands return to LA again. The Ramones Ryder truck with the gear broke down in Hollywood on the way to the studio and the session was supposed to start in 20 minutes. So, there we are with a brand new Cadillac, racing to the Ramones truck and loading Marshall amps and instruments in the car. The sessions went great, and Joey was particularly happy that “Slug” had come out so well and that the rest of the band was now super on board the song. My brother and I Produced and Arranged “Slug” to give it a sound and feel somewhere between their regular sound and a Phil Spector kind of vibe.

At the session, we called Phil and played him what we had recorded over the phone. His immediate reaction was that he wanted us to pick up some pizzas and bring the band over to his mansion in Beverly Hills. Needles to say that was a fun, long night. This led to the making of “End Of The Century”, which I also played on.

It’s amazing to me how many albums “Slug” has been on and was even released as a vinyl single in 2012. I’m very pleased that the Ramones and company like the song so much. I talked with Joey a lot by phone late at night and I learned quite a bit about what his philosophy and musical inspiration was.The Ramones are an American icon, just as much as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. They are the ultimate face and voice of Punk Rock. I’m proud to have known them, recorded with them, and to have just plain hung out with them.

Hey Ho Let’s Go.

The Grammy Museum and Delta Air Lines Present

Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk Opening Friday, Sept. 16
By Harvey Kubernik c 2016

Following its debut at the Queens Museum in New York, on Sept. 16, 2016, the Grammy Museum at L.A. LIVE and Delta Air Lines will present the second of the two-part traveling exhibit, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk.

On the evening of the Los Angeles launch, Linda Ramone; British entertainer Billy Idol; Seymour Stein, Vice President of Warner Bros. Records and a co-founder of Sire Records, the label that signed the Ramones to their first record deal; artist Shepard Fairey; and Monte A. Melnick, longtime tour manager for the Ramones, will participate in an intimate program in the Clive Davis Theater at 7:30 p.m. titled Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Celebrating 40 Years Of The Ramones.

Co-curated by the Grammy Museum and the Queens Museum, in collaboration with Ramones Productions Inc., the exhibit commemorates the 40th anniversary of the release of the Ramones’ 1976 self-titled debut album and contextualizes the band in the larger pantheon of music history and pop culture.

On display through February 2017, the exhibit is organized under a sequence of themes — places, events, songs, and artists —and includes items by figures such as: Arturo Vega (who, along with the Ramones, designed the Ramones logo)   Sergio Aragones (cartoonist for Mad magazine), John Holmstrom (Punk magazine founder and cartoonist), and Shepard Fairey.

Also included in the exhibit are contributions from the personal collections of: Mickey Leigh (Joey Ramone’s brother and Ramones’ original stage manager), Linda Ramone (Johnny Ramone’s wife) and Monte Melnick. Additional artifacts will also include personal memorabilia such as clothing and instruments.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Grammy Museum’s Education Department will produce an education workshop exploring the roots of punk, the role the Ramones played in the birth of the genre and how their legacy has continued to inspire musicians today. The workshop will be held in the Clive Davis Theater on Oct. 11 and Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk is organized by the Grammy Museum and Queens Museum, in collaboration with Ramones Productions Inc., JAM Inc., and Silent Partner Management. The exhibit is co-curated by Queens Museum guest curator Marc H. Miller and Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the Grammy Museum

The Ramones were loud and fast — and gloriously so, from the moment of their inception in Forest Hills, New York, in 1974, until their final concert, 2,263, in Los Angeles on Aug. 6, 1996.

They were prolific — releasing 21 studio and live albums between 1976 and 1996 — and professional, typically cutting all of the basic tracks for one of those studio LPs in a matter of days.

In their time, in their unique specialized way, the Ramones — the founding four of Johnny (guitar), Joey (vocals), Tommy (drums), and Dee Dee (bass), eventually evolved as musicians and songwriters.

Road to Ruin was the first album with a new drummer (Marky), followed by CJ (bass), and Richie (drums).

In 2002 I interviewed Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Ramone for the liner notes I was writing for the Ramones Phil Spector-produced End Of The Century CD reissue, available from Warner Music Group.

I attended dozens of the End Of The Century recording sessions at Gold Star studios in Hollywood and played percussion and handclapped on a couple of the tracks. Sometimes I was the food runner or schlepped band members to Gold Star for tracking dates.

With the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit scheduled to open in mid-September, I felt it very appropriate to visit my archives and display published and additional sections of the Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Ramone interviews I conducted.

Harvey Kubernik Interviews Dee Dee Ramone:

Q. I didn’t know you used to live in Culver City around 1970.

A. I hitchhiked out here and when I got to L.A. First stop was Newport Beach. I met some guy, service men, who picked me up jarheads, who dove me into L.A. particularly.

“I got to L.A. and stayed to L.A. for five minutes, hitched up the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur for a month. Then I came back, and stayed in Culver City in The Washington Hotel. MGM Studios right down the street. Worked as a maitanance man. Helms Bakery. I might have been 18, and started at 12 midnight and hosed all the garbage dumps. I listened to the radio. AM and FM dial.

“I had some history in Culver City. I used to go to all the thrift shops and look for 45’s and find good things. Boxes of singles. I found good R&B and rock and roll singles, and pulled that same trick in New York in 1976. I had an apartment and the Cramps were living around there and hit the shops for tunes.

“Obviously, I heard and found some records Phil Spector produced. I came to Hollywood all the time. I came to The Whisky even then. I saw Chicken Shack, who might have been on Sire Records. When I was living in L.A. and around Hollywood. It t was at a time when everyone was getting a shag haircut. It was wonderful. It was a rock and roll town. I went to The Forum and The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Gazarri’s, No wheels. Hitchiked everywhere. I’m lucky I’m still alive.

Q. What about playing with The Ramones?

A. Playing bass with the Ramones. I think I had a real good sense of time. That’s one thing. I could play bass like a drummer and I don’t know how other people do it, and they get better, or learn guitar tapping, whatever, I actually saw someone the other day who came from Europe to go to the Musicians Institute Of Technology. I said, ‘listen, I just listened to the records.’ Everybody likes my sound. I notice that I play once a week now, to keep my skills up, but there’s something about playing live that just makes you better.

“John and I had been playing for years and we played every night. Very few nights we didn’t play. We had a standard joke. We never rehearsed because we were always playing. To get the speed though, we had to warm up and we used to warm up in the dressing room with a trap kit, or fake drums, a Fender Champ amp. And that’s it. We would get the speed with the right hand going, until finally it grew to playing. Only playing down strokes, and then playing back. Speed, aggression, but if you are a singer/guitar player, you have to play up and down strokes or pause a little on the guitar. And John and I weren’t like vocal musicians. That’s what happened to us.

“We’re like a machine. About Joey, we always used to say horrible things. ‘We could have made it if we had Billy Idol.’ (laughs). We were nasty.

Q. What about the equipment you used with The Ramones and on End Of The Century?

A. On End Of The Century I was using a white Fender Precision bass, with a red pick guard. Maybe a 1977 model. A new one. I used to use a Daneletro, which the Ramones complained about, and I broke it one night, ya know. Because I had gotten the last set of Danelectro strings and Eddie Bell’s on 49th Street. They had their own scales. A short scale, The Danelectos, bass scale, it was real small.

“Then I got a Fender Music Man, or something like that, and they were upset, and stole it after a sound check. Then they got me Fred Smith’s bass of Television. This is like a 1964 Precision bass. ‘Better take care of this.’ I hated it and sold it for drugs, or something. Or pawned it. I got a cheap new one.

Q. You have a renewed appreciation of the Joey Ramone and Phil Spector friendship.

A. Now I realize more and more with time Joey’s voice had a  real deep, deep part of the Ramones’ sound. And really starting from End Of The Century. I think Phil Spector and Joey were a great combination. Phil brought out the romanticism in Joey. Why and I never thought that would have been an appeal of the Ramones. But he was meeting girls everywhere in the Ramones’ songs: The Cat Club, The Burger King, 7 11, every time he turned around he spotted someone else. Joey was like a romantic guy, and some of the songs and productions on End Of The Century pushed that.

“Now I realize Phil had to spend time all that time with Joey. He was like a coach, ya know. It’s a process of discovery. Sometimes it takes three years to get a cover song right. Like ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ and I play ‘Be My Baby’ the Dee Dee way.

“Like it took two months to learn one chord I was missing, and now the choruses can be nicer. Joey would say, ‘I used to play it your way, but I like the Phil Spector way better.’

“I never thought there would be a string section on a Ramones’ record, but I like it. I always wondered if the sound came from that Pat Boone movie State Fair. The cheerful thing but cynical for me to say.

“You know, when I first heard music in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s, that Lolita soundtrack or ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ by Paul Anka. I could listen to that too, then. I like romantic lush things. I wish for End Of The Century we would have done more things like with strings. We should have stopped touring and done another album with him.

“We were working with Phil Spector and we wanted to at least do one of his songs. Very logical and very natural. We couldn’t do ‘Lovin’ Feelin’’ or ‘River Deep, Mountain High.’ You have to see something like a garage rock did it in the sixties like at a high school dance. I saw this German band, the Restless Set do ‘Walkin’ In The Sand’ and I have it by a band from Berlin, too.

“So then you say, ‘It’s magnificent with that echoplex through a P.A.,’ but not only original ideas, but album, and songs showed process of evolution, ya know. You can only have the ideas by yourself. I think you get a lot of impressions early on when you are young. I think the whole thing was natural, ‘Baby, I Love You,’ but if I would have done ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ it would have been out of my league, or whatever.

Q. Sire Records’ head Seymour Stein helped the band a lot.

A. Seymour Stein invented alternative music labeling. Like The Ramones he was one of the last American dreams. He started from nothing as a record collector buying publishing, putting out Fleetwood Mac albums and stuff, before they were popular, and made a label as a fan.

“What I remember about Seymour was that he had every 45 the Teddy Bears’ ‘To Know Him is To Love Him’ which Phil did. During the recording of End Of The Century he didn’t intrude. He was really generous. I’m saying this could never happen again. Nobody would ever be that good to a band. The Ramones were a pain in the ass too. Come on! Maybe he thought it was a goof.

Q. You wrote some of the material on End Of The Century.

A: I co-wrote with Johnny two tunes. “This Ain’t Havana” and “Let’s Go.” I don’t think they’re memorable. It wasn’t my best album.  I was writing and writing, and then I realized it’s kind of dangerous being me. A rock star and becoming frigid. I didn’t know what to say, like anything I would say would be wrong. And I didn’t realize people liked what I was saying. I was starting to think it over and ended up empty handed. Then I had to learn, and I think Joey had to do this to after the next album following End Of The Century, like to go back to the craft of song writing. But then, we weren’t doing it as a band anymore.

“With Johnny, like the tunes we did on End Of The Century done in the studio, or the dressing room, but we lost each other on the road. We didn’t hang out. I was writing them in my den in Queens. Like ‘Chinese Rock’ I wrote a long time ago. I wrote it in Deborah Harry’s apartment where I was subletting it with Tommy. At first they didn’t want to do it.

Marky Ramone, Phil Spector, and Cave Hollywood's David Kessel at Phil's mansion. Photo Credit: Photo by Harold Sherrick Photo courtesy David Kessel

Marky Ramone, Phil Spector, and Cave Hollywood’s David Kessel
at Phil’s mansion.
Photo Credit: Photo by Harold Sherrick
Photo courtesy David Kessel

Q. Working with Marky Ramone. He’s a good drummer.

A. The thing with Marky as a drummer was that he was very particular about the drum sound and all of that. We thought that was kind of humorous. I think we didn’t like that. Tommy was more anonymous. For a drummer that was what we wanted in the band. Johnny and my favorite drummer had to be someone like Scott Ashton of The Stooges. He just seemed to tap away at it. But I think Joey was into a Keith Moon type drummer who would splash around the tom toms and all that thing. But you know what, we didn’t bother Marky in the studio. He is a very self-willed person, and Johnny Ramone would show him a lot of parts. I wouldn’t worry about what everyone was doing, I would just lead it.

“When I was in Germany, they had a hard time getting music out, radio free Europe or Luxembourg. I used to listen late at night and it came on from the channel. I’d hide under covers with a tiny transistor radio. It came from the boats in the English channel. Everyone comes running to me for creative help.

“I really appreciate the End Of The Century record, and Joey was my friend, ya know, . I was the one who named the band the Ramones. After a while I have to lay it at rest. People who interview me just want to know about the fighting in the band.

Q.  What about the front cover band photo on End Of The Century?

A: Regarding the cover and ditching the jackets. John got mad and tried to blame it on me and Joey. Now that I see the cover I think it’s a relief. The other covers I like.

Q. Around the same time The Ramones did the movie Rock and Roll High School.

A. I was glad to do the movie Rock and Roll High School. The movie and soundtrack saved our career. We had to start working in America. We needed a vehicle for publicity. With Phil Spector and Alan Arkush directing the movie. Everything tied in. It kept us going. I don’t  think this would happen in modern day times or the industry. The record company gave the Ramones a chance year after year. And gave then chance after chance.

Q. You seem so happy these days. Very proud of the group’s achievements.

A Of all the albums, the End Of The Century sticks out and shows a side to the Ramones that didn’t get developed and couldn’t have developed because of the obvious: we were a tight rhythmic band, although we’re not musical virtuosos, but what we did we did good.

“And you look at that cover and see that pop side to us that loved Rubber Soul by The Beatles, or the regimented pop groups. I think it’s nice to see the whole collection of albums and the covers, and that the whole thing ever existed.

Q. Tell me about your band?

A. I’m amazed by the whole thing and feel I’m a lucky person, ya know. I’m real lucky to be alive. I was still taken care of in spite of all my complaints. My life could have been real bad or over a long time ago. Like I was really blessed to be in that band. And everything that came along with it. The longevity of it is shocking. All of a sudden the Ramones have this new life.

Q. Can we talk about Joey Ramone?

A. It wasn’t like a cruel twist of faith instead it had a happy ending except for Joey, ya know. And a lot of times Joey’s death really affected me. Instead because he wasn’t friendly to me and I felt shortchanged, and the last year I gave up on him and couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t really get to go through his death with him, ya know. It’s painful for me. I miss him. I think. ‘what did he get out of life?’ ‘What do you get out of being in the Ramones?’ Nothing. It’s shit. He came back after all those tours and sat around the East Village. I feel bad for him that he was sick and didn’t have his freedom. And all I can think of is it’s inspiring not to not take life for granted.

Q. Do you still play the records?

A. I play the records. For a while when I left them, it was blank, I was wounded when I listened to them. I started again and the whole thing amazes me. I can believe I was part of it, it still is a lot of work. A lot of people were involved in it ‘Where is that band?’ Playing with the Ramones was wonderful. It was like probably bungie jumping.

Q. What about playing on stage?

A. The songs translated well on stage. I used to live in Argentina because of the Ramones. I couldn’t go anywhere like McDonald’s to eat. I had to go outside on the street to play some Ramones’ songs for everybody. I had to play ‘Let’s Go’ to chill these people out. I had to get saved a few times from being crushed and run. It’s rock star stuff, but it’s not fun. Even the long distance operator would call me back and say, ‘Hi Dee Dee Ramone.’

Q. The band was a sum of its parts and reflected the music heard in America.

A. I think Joey and me and everyone had that sound drilled into them as part of our rock and roll education. It comes from the radio and the vibe and scene. That’s the beauty of American rock and roll. ‘Mersey Beat,’ whatever. There’s nothing like The Shangri-La’s ‘Walkin’ In The Sand.’ I wish I would have known Mary Weiss.

Harvey Kubernik Interviews Johnny Ramone

Q: Did you have to adjust your own approach or playing for End Of The Century?

A: No, but I’m sure I felt a lot more pressure as far as…I didn’t feel like I was the same control I was usually in – playing what I wanted to play, and not worrying about anyone saying anything or making any comments.

Q: Now, I know that Marky had joined on the previous album or so; did you have to make any adjustments playing with him either on stage or on the record. Also, are there any similarities or differences in the way Tommy was a drummer, and the way you participated?

A: No, no, no…it was a lot easier with Mark. Mark was just so much more versatile and able to do so much more stuff. It was actually easier. We didn’t have Tommy’s guidance anymore – that was more of a problem, because Tommy would intercede a lot.

Q: What about hearing End Of The Century on release, and now, 20 years later, listening to it? I’m not asking you to re-evaluate it or anything track by track, but upon the release, some of your impressions, and if you do revisit it now, what do you think about it?

A: My opinion always usually stays the same. When I heard it, the production works on some of the songs, the production doesn’t work on some of the songs. The hard stuff, the production doesn’t work. Ballads like “Danny Says,” the production work is tremendous. On “Rock & Roll Radio,” the production works. Some of the things it works, some of the things it doesn’t work on. Because of the echo and reverb, I can’t separate. I like to distinguish the guitar from the bass guitar from the drums. I can’t distinguish (the separation), because it’s muddy. That’s the sound.

Q: I know that you’ve been involved in collecting film posters, so with “Rock & Roll High School,” and the destiny of the Ramones kind of brought you to New World and Roger Corman and the extension of Arkoff/Nicholson and all of those people. You of all people must have been thrilled when Roger Corman was putting this together.

A: Yeah, but I was having some personal stress during the film, so I wasn’t able to enjoy it like I should have. But still, looking back, it’s there and it’s a great movie. And it’s there – it’s forever…

Q: Interesting because there’s been in the last year a Corman book, and one on Arkoff. These  guys were sort of dismissed like punk rock, like B-movie, cheap movie guys. But they all have the monumental influence, karma and durability of 20, 30 40 years…I think that goes for your band as well.

A: Oh yeah, and how many great people came out of this whole system, and all working on a bunch of great films then…

Q: You got rid of the black jackets for the album cover of End Of The Century. You weren’t happy about that….

A: No, I wasn’t. We took the picture without the leather jackets, and we should have never had done that, and then we took a picture with the leather jackets…

Q: Whose suggestion was that? The photographer Mick Rock?

A: The photographer…and Joey and Dee Dee said, ‘Maybe we’re not getting played because we have leather jackets on…let’s go with that picture.’

“I was against that, and Mark was against that too, but they said Mark’s vote didn’t count. So it was two against one; it was a power struggle going on where Dee Dee and Joey were pals at one point, and that’s what was just happening; and Mark’s vote didn’t count, and we put the leather jacket photo on the inside sleeve. I thought it was selling out – this was our image, and we should stick with our image, and either sink or swim with it. I thought it was compromising and selling out. I didn’t want anyone coming up to me and saying, ‘You guys are selling out…’ And it had “Baby, I Love You” on it, too…so this was not a great period.

Q: Were you always a fan of – and not being ‘cheap’ – but economically-driven, inexpensive production.

A: Yes, yes, of course. First of all, that’s how I thought how rock & roll was supposed to be, and I thought that’s what kept the thing exiting. Plus I wanted to make money. I’m working, and I don’t want to just blow the money on something I don’t believe in. I believe that we’re supposed to just go in there, do two takes of a song, and you’re done and it’s exciting and this is rock & roll…

Q: Were the Ramones successful in terms of the records vs. the stage performance?

A: Well, the records were one thing, the stage was another. I was worried about reproducing things or parts that were on the records and you can’t (always) play it live, ‘cause there’s two guitars, and that kind of thing. I just used to go on stage, pick up my guitar and did what I did.

Q: Did you always know that the road was gonna be the key and sales of merchandise at gigs?

A: Of course! We were recycling everything. The drumsticks would come off the kits, everything, and sell ‘em out there for a profit. Sticks get used, we get the sticks for $2 a pair, and then we’d sell the used drumsticks for $5 apiece – used drumsticks. Everything was to turn a profit, yet to still keep it at a reasonable price, so that if the kid got an item, he’d go. ‘Hey, I got a good deal; here’s a good used drum stick for $5, and it’s still a good deal, ya know…’

Q: You inspired a lot of people. Some came up on your farewell tour and said how much they were inspired by you. Is it analogous to you being inspired by musicians like Cream and Jeff Beck that inspired you?

A: Well, not those people, because they were already at a stage where I never thought I’d be able to get to, as far as musicianship. But what made me get into a band were bands like The New York Dolls or Slade.

“But as far as the compliments from the people like Eddie Vedder, it’s great, it’s tremendous. I didn’t think I was appreciated throughout the 1980’s. It wasn’t until the 1990’s – around ‘93/’94 that people started coming up to me and saying these things, and asking me to go on tour with them. And I started thinking, ‘Hey, this is nice…’ See, we stayed in our own world so much that we didn’t think anyone cared; we thought were totally unappreciated.

Q: So you saw bands like Cream, and realized that you’d never get to that level…

A: Right, but I learned by just watching them come out on stage, and I watched what they did just by presenting themselves. I saw how important it was – perception – how the group was perceived from the moment the band walked on stage – how important to walk on the stage properly. You know, the stage is dark and there’s no lights – ‘This is the most exiting moment…now, how long is it gonna take for the band to blow it, ya know, with boredom?’

“I learned so much from doing that. Walk on, don’t start fumbling around; if something breaks, don’t make it obvious to the audience – they don’t know. I’d tell Dee Dee, ‘If you’re microphone doesn’t work, just throw it down, scream out the count.’ Don’t have any vulnerability, where you go on, ‘Testing, testing….’ Don’t show any vulnerable moment. Perception is everything…

Q: As a guitarist you played down-strumming.  Was that the way it always was with you, even before the Ramones, and was that always consistent in your playing?

A: Well, I bought the guitar in January of ‘74, and we started playing CBGB’s in August of ‘74.

So that’s when I started playing guitar. I started down-strumming to keep time, ya know. I also liked the way Jimmy Page played on “Communication Breakdown” (sings ‘da-da-da-da-da/da-dum-dum’) I liked the way it drives…

Q: It’s interesting, because the band isn’t touring, and you can’t say that your band kissed ass and you didn’t (always) do the things that other people and recording artists willingly do in the music game.

A: I wouldn’t to those radio promotion kinds of things that we were always being asked to do because we weren’t getting paid! ‘Go to the radio station in Washington and play for the radio station…’ and not get paid! I’m not gonna do it!

Q: Does it show you that some degree of integrity, stick-to-it-ness – much like that way Corman would make two movies on one set – that the strict economics, keep your eye on the ball, not giving yourself away for free, no corporate tie-in…that those things can pay dividends later?

A: Yeah…but it’s rare! (laughter). In this case, I guess so, but most of the times, the band’s go, ‘Is it all worth it?’ ‘Yeah, I stick to my thing, yeah…but does anyone care? no’…maybe a couple of hard-core fans will notice, but sometimes I just wonder.

Q: But the Ramones are looked upon as a legacy group now!

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah…I never thought this! (laughter). I thought we’d do one album, and I’d go back to construction work, ya know.

Q: Now you saw bands like Cream, and this kind of leads into End Of  The Century. Did you enjoy that stuff? Not that you were going to play “Spoonful” for twelve minutes….

A: Oh yeah, we loved those songs. We like all of that stuff, we like the bubblegum music. The first time we played, we wanted to play ‘Yummy, Yummy.’ but I said ‘I can’t figure this out, let’s just write our own song….’ We wanted to write short songs, I thought, ‘The song stops, at least we don’t have to listen to it for two minutes’, and go on to the next song.

Cave Hollywood's David Kessel with Marky Ramone at a Johnny Ramone tribute at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Photo Credit: Photo by Harold Sherrick Photo courtesy David Kessel

Cave Hollywood’s David Kessel with Marky Ramone at a Johnny Ramone tribute at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Photo Credit: Photo by Harold Sherrick
Photo courtesy David Kessel

Q: Mandatory basic training?

A: Yeah, for discipline, conditioning…it’ll make you a better person. Then I worked in construction work for five years and I learned from that. I was getting about $12.00 an hour. I had already learned from military school, but (to learn) to go to work every day. Four years of (military) school, and five years of working outside on a construction crew…I lost my job because of Affirmative Action, after working for five years. I learned how to get to a quote immediately, and then I got laid off. I had all of these connections – my father, my uncle. But I learned (from all of that) this is a good job, keep doing it – if you don’t get along, keep doing it. Do good at what you’re doing, and you’re doing a good job.

(Harvey Kubernik has been a music journalist for over 44 years and is the author of 8 books. During 2014, Harvey’s Kubernik’s Turn Up the Radio! Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles 1956–1972 was published by Santa Monica Press. 

In September 2014, Palazzo Editions packaged Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, a coffee—table—size volume written by Kubernik, currently published in six foreign languages. BackBeat/Hal Leonard Books in the United States.

Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik wrote the text for photographer Guy Webster’s award-winning first book for Insight Editions published in November 2014. Big Shots: Rock Legends & Hollywood Icons: Through the Lens of Guy Webster. Introduction by Brian Wilson.

In March, 2014, Kubernik’s It Was 50 Years Ago Today The Beatles Invade America and Hollywood was published by Otherworld Cottage Industries. 

In November of 2015, Back/Beat/Hal Leonard published Harvey’s book on Neil Young, Heart of Gold).

During 2017, Sterling will publish Harvey Kubernik’s 1967 Complete Rock Music History on the Summer of Love).