Though he didn’t play on the Ramones’ early albums, for many, drummer Marky Ramone (a.k.a. ex-Voidoid Marc Bell) is all we have left of the poptastic punks. And though he’s stayed busy since his mates Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee went to that big rock dive in the sky, playing Ramones tunes is especially important to him right now. It’s fitting that he’ll celebrate the Ramones’ 30th anniversary July 2 at Safari Sam’s, a club whose owners have long supported punk music and artists in general. The following evening, he’ll host the Rock & Roll High School screening/party at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
L.A. WEEKLY: You’ve done Ramones covers with your bands the Intruders and the Speed Kings, but until now, never an all-Ramones set.
MARKY RAMONE: No — [but] this is like what Ringo would do when he went out with his band. It’s not a tribute; it’s just a nice thing to do for the fans. [Plus,] there’s a whole new generation that likes the Ramones, so that’s why we wanted to do an all-ages show.
Is that why you picked Safari Sam’s?
Yes. I’ve played all the Hollywood clubs, and I wanted to play somewhere fresh and new and where everybody could come.
What else have you been up to?
I have a radio show on Sirius called Punk Rock Blitzkrieg, and I just re-released Punkthology, a two-CD set featuring my [post-Ramones] solo material, and Ramones material with people like Lars Fredrickson, Joan Jett and David Brooks, who I’m playing with now.
You also played drums with a cartoon-themed band called Osaka Popstar.
Yeah, it’s got Jerry Only from the Misfits on bass, Dez Cadena from Black Flag on guitar and John Cafiero, the brainchild behind the project, is on vocals. And Ivan Julian from Richard Hell and the Voidoids, who I played with on Blank Generation. It’s a really cool album and the videos are great, all Japanese-animation inspired. Mostly, though, I’m focused on finishing my book, Faith and the Back Beat. It’ll be the ultimate Ramones book. It’s from the inside, and I’m telling it all.
You seemed to be the one Ramone who never had any problems with the other guys.
Yeah, I was always in the middle. I was best friends with Dee Dee. I played on Joey’s solo album, and I was the only Ramone to visit him in the hospital. And the last thing that Johnny did professionally was the Raw DVD that I did with my own footage. We did the commentary together.
Does David Brooks, your singer, sound like Joey?
No, I made sure that he didn’t. He has his own style. I would never allow that. There’s so many tribute bands that do that already.
Is it bittersweet playing these songs?
I feel that the songs are too good not to be played. I want to do it for those who weren’t old enough to see the Ramones together. It’s something that I will continue for the legacy. [Original Ramones drummer] Tommy’s not touring. He doesn’t play the drums anymore. So who’s gonna do it? Just some other punk band?