By Johnny Papan
VANCOUVER – “Punk rock is a very fickle piece of the music business.”
“I think there’s almost become a punk rock uniform as far as how you see the world and how you think about things. It’s really got turned on his head to a certain extent. The whole idea behind punk doesn’t have to do with politics or anything like that. It’s about doing things your way, how you think it’s right. That’s punk rock.”
C.J. Ramone is one of only seven people on this planet who is honored with the infamous Ramones surname. Joining the legendary punk-pioneers the Ramones in ‘89, he held bass duties until the group’s disbandment in ‘96. Since then, Ramone has taken on different projects, including his own solo-act. He dropped a third album American Beauty through this guise earlier this year.
“I wanted to make a positive statement. With all the crazy stuff going on, everyone is hating on the United States. To me, it’s kind of beautiful that the whole population of the country is involved in the political process and there are more people out there standing up for what they believe in,” Ramone postulates.
“There’s a lot of good stuff going on in America too, and I think people just don’t get that, they don’t see it.”
Drawing influence from his roots, Ramone’s catchy melodies and creativity were inspired by Motown, country, and ‘60s pop. Still an in-your-face punk record, it’s clear C.J.’s time with the Ramones continues to impact him today.
“On my first record [Reconquista] there’s a song called “Three Angels.” It’s about my time in the band, my relationship with each one of the guys and what they taught me,” Ramone explains.
“Joey told me not to be apologetic for being myself. Johnny’s advice was not to worry about taking care of other people until you know how to take care of yourself. I learned from Dee Dee by just watching him, he was a study in survival on his own.”
American Beauty’s sixth track, “Tommy’s Gone,” is a tribute to the last passing member of the original Ramones lineup, Tommy Ramone.
“Tommy was the architect of the band. The biggest lesson I learned from Tommy was to trust your own instincts and trust your own judgement. If you really believe in something, you have to stick with it and go all the way if you wanna make something happen.”
A veteran in the genre, Ramone offers insight on his opinion on the current state of punk music.
“I think it’s dying down and I’m really happy about it. Punk music was never meant to be played in big stadiums. It was never meant to be an overly commercialized billion-dollar industry. It was created for a small group of people who understood what it really meant,” Ramone explains.
“It’s contracting, which is good because when the genre contracts, the talent level goes up. The amount of people coming to shows goes down, but you end up listening to a lot better stuff than when there’s eight-million bands playing a watered down version of something somebody told them was good.”
Ramone concludes: “I come from the small shows, the small venues. That’s where I’m happy. I like where I play, I like who I play to. People come out to dance, have a couple of drinks, and have a good time. There’s no gimmicks no crazy light shows or stage antics. It’s just a really good rock n’ roll show.”
C.J. Ramone performs May 4 at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver), May 5 at Doc Wiloughbys (Kelowna), May 6 at Broken City (Calgary), May 7 at the Mercury Room (Edmonton) and May 8 at The Park Theatre (Winnipeg).Broken City, C.J. RAMONE, Doc Wiloughbys, Mercury Room, Rickshaw Theatre, The Park Theatre