Johnny: Production-wise: no. Song-wise: probably. The songs are okay, they're fairly strong. Not as strong as the first four albums, but strong enough. There's enough classic Ramones and decent songs on there. Production wise...no. It might have worked on certain songs like "Danny Says," songs like that.
I knew...we knew...we all knew that he wasn't the right person. That's why we avoided him on Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin. He already wanted to do those records. We basically agreed to do it because we thought his name would help us out. That was enough of a compromise without having to go and take pictures without our jackets. I should never have agreed to take the photo to begin with without my jacket, I should have known that they would pull something.
So because of that me and Dee Dee had a falling out. We didn't write any songs together for the Pleasant Dreams album. Shortly after that we made up and tried to get back on the right course for the Subterranean Jungle album. Then by Too Tough to Die we were all focused as a band to do the right record, which was good. Then Animal Boy, I think is a good record. I don't like the production, but we stayed focused. Then after that we started losing focus again.
Do you have a favorite album?
Johnny: Rocket to Russia. That was far enough into our career where we were reaching a peak as far as songwriting, playing our instruments and understanding what we were doing. It was all so new to us. I mean, I bought a guitar the day we started the band.
You pretty much had the first three albums in the can before you recorded them though, right?
Johnny: Yeah, the first two and a half or so. By the time we got signed in late '75 we just went and basically recorded them in the order we'd written them.
So did you have much input with the upcoming anthology and the songs that went on it?
Johnny: We didn't have any say in the songs that are on it.
Have you listened to it and are you happy with it?
Johnny: Oh...basically, yeah. I mean, everyone's going to have different opinions on the songs. It's the not the songs I would pick, especially the later stuff. But I was very happy to see that Rhino even had any interest in doing it. I was thrilled and I thought they did a great job with the booklet and with the photos.
We can put an album on and your three favorite songs are probably going to be different than my three favorite songs.
I see that "Garden of Serenity" made it.
Johnny: Yeah, I'm happy with that.
Also "Carbona Not Glue."
Johnny: Made the album. Very happy with that.
"Carbona Not Glue" was dropped from Leave Home after the first pressing because of copyright infringement, if I'm not mistaken.
Johnny: Carbona threatened to sue Sire, so they just pulled it right off.
Johnny: What's happening with it being on the anthology? I have no idea. [Rhino] put it on and I ain't saying nothing!
[lots of laughter]
Johnny: We managed to sneak it on Loco Live, but we didn't put the title down.
Are you familiar with Adios Amigos?
Yeah, it's been awhile.
Johnny: Give Adios Amigos a listen, 'cause you sound like a Ramones fan. I was happy with that one. It was the first album I was happy with since Too Tough to Die.
Did that one take some time to grow on you? I thought I read something a few years back where you said you weren't all that pleased with it.
Johnny: No, no. I was happy with that right from the start. I knew going in that we were going to make a good record. Production was just right and there were a lot of good songs.
Who is Zippy the Pinhead and why is he spotted so frequently both in concert and in your videos?
Johnny: Ha ha ha ha! I don't know. I guess we picked up on it and that was it--our little gimmick.
Better left a mystery.
Johnny: Different people played the Pinhead and it was our little gimmick.
So I hear you've got quite the collection of baseball cards and memorabilia.
Johnny: Yeah! So are you a baseball fan?
I'm more of a soccer fan, really.
Johnny: Oh boy! I'm sorry, but I don't consider soccer a sport. Heh heh heh! If it's a successful soccer match because no one got killed in the crowd, then I don't know if it's a sport. Heh heh.
What's your favorite autograph?
Johnny: You know, the lesser the guy the better. If I have a player who played in 1934 and had one at bat in the Major Leagues, I'd be most excited with those, knowing the feeling of how hard it is to get to the Major Leagues... If I had a Mariner that had one at bat in his career, that would be more exciting than getting a Ken Griffey, Jr.
You have a great love for the game and I've heard that you always wanted to play baseball since you were a kid.
Johnny: Oh, yeah! I came up [to Seattle] two years ago to catch the opening game with the Yankees against the Mariners. I went with Ben [Shepherd], Kim [Thayil] and Eddie [Vedder] back to the Mariners locker room after the game. That was a big thrill! Randy Johnson was... you know, funny thing... I'm a Yankees fan and I'd watch the game and I hated Randy Johnson! He's so mean and he's so good, and I hated him because he's so good. Then I got to meet him and he's such a sweet guy, you know. He was so nice, he and [Jay] Buhner were so nice. And now I love them! Now he's a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks and I'm a huge Randy Johnson fan.
Were you more nervous to meet them or were they more nervous to meet you?
Johnny: I have no idea. Randy was always so mean that I was a little nervous to meet him. Then Buhner came over and said: "Hey, look! Johnny Ramone's here!" You know...
Jay man! I was bummed out back when the Yankees traded you. That was a bad move!
If you could go back in time which would you choose: the Ramones or playing baseball?
Johnny: If I could have had a twenty-two year career in baseball, I guess I would choose baseball!
[lots of laughter]
What position would you play?
Johnny: I guess I always wanted to be a pitcher.
And would you cut your hair to do it?
Johnny: Oh yeah! Yeah.
Johnny: If I could have had a twenty-two year career in baseball? Yeah. I think people in baseball are better remembered, they always go on talking about those guys. You are never forgotten in the baseball world. I don't know about music... I think you're sort of forgotten.
Well, I'm fairly certain you've got a place established in the music history books.
Johnny: That'd be good...that'd be good.