Richie Ramone
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Richie Ramone

When Richie Ramone steps out on the stage at CHERRYROCK016 next month he’ll have one thing on his mind. “It’s always been about the fans. I don’t play just ‘cause I wanna play, I play to put on a show for the kids to have a good time.”

As a drummer for the iconic punk rock band the Ramones, between 1983 and 1987, Richie played more than 500 shows with the band, and was the only Ramones drummer to compose and write his own songs. Thirty years on, Richie looks back on that period with fond memories.

“It was an important time in the band’s history. At the time I didn’t know how important though,” Richie admits.

In later years the Ramones’ co-founder and front man Joey Ramone went on record to Big Noise about Richie’s contribution to the band saying that “[Richie] saved the band as far as I’m concerned. He’s the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones. He put the spirit back into the band.”

To this day Richie is humbled by Joey’s praise: “Are you kidding me? It’s a bitchin’ compliment –it was amazing!” he says. “Coming from someone who will always be my friend, it’s a great quote.”

On reflection, Richie’s injection of new blood was exactly what his bandmates needed at the time. “When I joined the band they were flat, and me joining was like lighting a spark plug. We became incredibly close because we spent so much time together,” he explains. “We played 170 shows a year back then, and travelled all over. I hung out with them every day. We were like family. Just like my band now.”

These days Richie takes a starring role as lead singer, dividing his time between his drum kit and front of stage. Joining him on this tour are three hand-picked musicians, Clare Misstake on bass, (sometimes) drummer and rhythm guitarist Ben Reagan, and Aussie guitarist Ronnie Simmons. “We’re like a family too,” Richie says. “It’s funny because Ronnie’s from Sydney and Clare’s from London – I’m surrounded by accents all the time. I start to pick them up.”

Fans of Richie will know he prides himself on his Australian accent, and looks forward to visiting the land Down Under as much as possible. “Last time I was in Australia was in 2013 for Stone Music Festival,” Richie says. “It’s first class every time I visit. It’s beautiful, the hotels are great, and the people are super. The coffee is fantastic – there’s so much to love.”

In preparation for this tour Richie says he’s been hard at work mixing his second solo album at Red Bull Studios in LA. “I’ve progressed since [2013’s] Entitled. The new album is a lot more singer-friendly – these songs have a lot of cool lyrics that will speak to the kids of today. It’s nice to make a record that’s important and not just full of nonsense.

“I don’t have a release date right now,” he continues, “but it’ll be finished before I come to see you guys. I’ll probably make you wait a few months though,” he jokes. “It’ll probably be released around June.”

Richie promises to play some of the new tracks on this tour. “I will probably play at least one or two,” he teases, “I think you’ll like this latest record – I mean, I think it’s great!” he laughs.

“I’ll also play a few more obscure songs from my time with the Ramones,” he adds, “and I always play the cult classics. It’ll be fun – it’s high energy, and it’s going to be a killer show.”

Richie also says not to be surprised if you see him hanging out by the merch stand at the end of the night. “I’ll come right out after the show. We’ll take pictures and sign autographs – I want everyone to be buddies. The show isn’t over once I leave the stage. I like to talk to people and see what’s going on. That’s punk rock – I’m no phony.”

Written by Natalie Rogers

When & Where: Cherry Rock @ Cherry Bar, Melbourne – May 1

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