01st August 2008, Indie 103.1 Radio.
Transcribed by me.
The event itself was honouring the late Johnny Ramone at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles. Radio host Joe Escalente was interviewing celebrity guests and asking them to talk about Johnny Ramone and The Ramones. Sadly, Indie 103.1 Radio closed its doors early in 2009, but you can hear the interview on this site audio interviews page and hear what other guests had to say on JRA.
Joe Escalente: Indie 103.1. We’ve got John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers sitting with us right now. John, thanks for coming in.
John Frusciante: Thank you.
Joe Escalente: What do you think of the spectacle? It’s kinda fun.
John Frusciante: It’s a nice night.
Joe Escalente: Yeah, it’s a nice night in Hollywood. In a graveyard. So, John…The Ramones. Well, let’s tell some more stories.
John Frusciante: Umm…A-a-as far as Johnny goes…I just umm…I’ve never known anybody who had such a clear idea about what he thought was cool and what he thought was good in music and live performance; and The Ramones were definitely, like, uh, a result of the-the, you know, all the years since, you know, since the 50s when he was first hearing rock’n’roll music, to the 60s when he was constantly going to shows and constantly evaluating and uh-rating every performer and every band that he saw. This is good, it’s good when a guy has a staple and it’s good, this, you know, it’s good when they stand close to eachother or when they don’t look at each other, you know, he had all these ideas.
Joe Escalente: Yeah, he wrote a book…
John Frusciante: Yeah, all these ideas he developed from just being a fan of music and, um I think, you know, and what The Ramones ended up being in terms of live performance and in terms of their statement on music…it’s like this specific idea of what was cool and what was good, crossed with, with, you know, total…you know, he had, he naturally had a really strong right wrist, so he was naturally able to do fast downstrokes, but they, to me the real lesson in it is just that they showed that you could do something that was just as good and just as cool as-as any of the things that had been, you know, that had been considered great before that. Errrm, things like Led Zeppelin and stuff, these people were great musicians.
Joe Escalente: Virtuoso, technique, but…
John Frusciante: Yeah, but you could be just cool as that and just as good as that and have just as good power as a band just by sort of following these guidelines that he had developed in his head in terms of, you know, as far as what’s cool is the way he’d have put it and and he was also very consistent with his beliefs, he just, he didn’t want to ever be contradicting himself or going back. What he felt, he felt really strongly about it and that also was the reason why The Ramones just kept on doing their thing no matter, no matter what. He-he didn’t wanna, like, errr….start changing styles or start changing their esthetic.
Joe Escalente: Right!
John Frusciante: You know, he felt, he felt really strongly that-that-that was what he’d found and you know…
Joe Escalente: I can kinda imagine what people were telling them to…hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that, don’t you wanna get to this level, to that level. He didn’t seem to care.
John Frusciante: Well, yeah, there were other bands from their same era who went in more commercial directions where-whether The Ramones aaaah just kept chugging along – doing their thing. But, you know, it is…it was it was a real pleasure for me to, to be able to, you know, to be friends with somebody who-who had, who had such a spirit…you know, cuz to me, to me all those things are subjective, you know, there ain’t really one thing that’s cool, or one thing that’s good or whatever. But, but…
Joe Escalente: You got to have balls to say Right, I’m gonna go with this!
John Frusciante: And-and-and what you know the-the idea that those things are subjective is something that for me is important but if-if Johnny would’ve felt like that, there would’ve never been The Ramones. You know, there was things like The Stooges or whatever before that and, as far as I’m concerned, they were more the first punk band, but it wasn’t as concise, it wasn’t as…it wasn’t as…
Joe Escalente: It was all out of the place.
John Frusciante: Yeah, it was a little…I mean…I just mean in terms of e-e-e…doing exactly, like, you know, something ummm specifically in…
Joe Escalente: In focus?
John Frusciante: …in this focused sphere of what punk rock is, The Ramones were-were-were m-much more. You know, I don’t think there’s anything great about not doing guitar solos or something that you were sayin’, but eh…
Joe Escalente: …but that he’d made that decision?
John Frusciante: But the fact the-but the fact that he didn’t do them, opened them up to lots of people who couldn’t play guitar solos, felt comfortable about being in bands…they might have…
Joe Escalente: Started a band…
John Frusciante: They might have never been comfortable with it before The Ramones.
Joe Escalente: They were intimidated by the…Stairway To Heaven prior to that and he said I don’t need that.
John Frusciante: Yeah.
Joe Escalente: I mean, look at that, that’s what happened to me. As a drummer, I said: Anyone can play drums…if-if this guy can. But can you do it with the power and can you do it with the consistency…but it still, kinda you…it dragged you into that.
John Frusciante: Yeah, it’s more about atmosphere, energy and your spirit inside and if…if you feel like you’ve got something to say, it doesn’t mean no technical means should prevent you from that.
Joe Escalente: Right.
John Frusciante: No technical means is gonna make you able to do that. It’s gotta just come from within and The Ramones teach us that.
Joe Escalente: And a thousand bands were started but very few of them have the legacy that The Ramones, The Ramones have and that’s why we’re here tonight….and we’re honouring Johnny Ramone.
John Frusciante: Heh…
Joe Escalente: It was an honour to talk to you, an actual friend of Johnny Ramone…John Frusciante, I can’t believe you were nervous and waiting like What I’m gonna say and aaaa and iiii, you just hit a home run here.
John Frusciante: Cool!
Joe Escalente: And now we, now we’re gonna give an example here, this is Rockaway Beach on Indie 103.1, we’re honouring Johnny Ramone. Indie.