By Dave Hedstrom
Richard Reinhardt is back. Back as Richie Ramone that is. Following his much-publicized break up from The Ramones, Richard was no longer interested in being a rock star; he gave up playing drums and returned to his birth name. For 10 years he withdrew from the music industry completely and survived by living on royalties from his songwriting days with the Ramones. Although not widely promoted at the time, Richie was the only drummer of three to play for the Ramones who actually contributed songs to the band.
Now relocated to sunny Los Angeles and leaving the cold weather of New York behind, Richie Ramone like the Phoenix, has risen from the ashes and is soaring again. The Scene caught up with him backstage before his show at Mayne Stage in Chicago on tour promoting his new album “Entitled” through DC-Jam records.
SCENE: What’s a typical day in the life of Richie Ramone?
RICHIE RAMONE: On tour you wake up, you travel, you go to sound check, you know then you go back the hotel, you go to bed, you go back to the show. It’s a lot of work. People don’t realize especially in this cold, we’re dodging the snow and everything so it’s been pretty tough. But we haven’t missed a gig yet, so happy about that.
SCENE: How do you travel to the shows?
RR: We travel in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van; its nice.
SCENE: What music groups inspired you when you were growing up what did you listen to?
RR: My brother Lenny, he’s 5 years older than me so he had the record collection like crazy so you know, late ‘60s, you know Eric Burden, and you know Jimi Hendrix. Music evolved a lot then so we listened to a lot of stuff then. He was a horn player so I listened to a lot of fusion and funk and everything too.
SCENE: Did you start out playing drums or did you start with another instrument first?
RR: No, I started out playing drums when I was 5 years old.
SCENE: L.A. or N.Y.?
RR: L.A. I’m in L.A. now, you know tired of the cold.
SCENE: Any advice you’d give young musicians or new groups trying to break into the business?
RR: Just you know, you gotta like be persistant and keep going — if you’re only half good, don’t even bother — its 5 million bands you’re in competition with right now. That’s a lot of bands to try to rise to the top, so when you’re special … you need to be special nowadays to break out; if your’re special somebody’s going to notice you.
SCENE: Is there anything you can tell me about yourself that people might not know?
RR: Myself … no, ‘cause everybody knows everything about me from Facebook, you know.
SCENE: What about the band you’re currently playing with?
RR: The band we have Alex Kane on guitar, Clare Mistake on bass, Ben Reagan he plays rhythm guitar and drums when I’m singing out front, so it’s a really good show and I’m really excited about the line up.
SCENE: How did you find the members of your band?
RR: I’ve known them all for a few years now from throughout L.A. It finally worked where we could all go out together, ‘cause I like to go out with people I know instead of strangers.
SCENE: One of your more popular songs and the title of your tour is ‘Somethng in My Drink.’ Did anyone ever put something in your drink without you knowing about it?
RR: Yeah, you know when I was a kid in New York city, we’d go to clubs and when people got up to dance we’d steal their drinks, that’s how that song came about; one of my drinks one night was laced with LSD or MDA or something and Dee Dee Ramone said, ‘You should write that song,’ and I did.
SCENE: I hear you’re working on another drum project with an orchestra.
RR: Well, yeah I want to do another one like I did with ‘Suites for Drums and Orchestra’ based on Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story.’ I want to do a James Bond theme style but you know its all about this now and I don’t want to spread myself too thin … so in time that could happen but not now, it takes away from my love … what I’m doing right now.
SCENE: What scares Richie Ramone, anything out there in the world?
RR: Snow and ice and cold.
SCENE: (laughing) I’m right with you on that. Do you have a favorite record album of all time?
RR: I’m not one of those who is a fan of one particular item; I take all kinds of music … I think anybody who takes an effort just to write a song has done a good job. Listen to everything as a kid growing up, listen to all kinds of music if you want to be a rock drummer, just don’t listen to rock, listen to other stuff and bring it into your rock world. It’s real important to be schooled in different kinds of music.
SCENE: Were you trained at drumming, did you take lessons?
RR: At 5 years old I had a teacher and I’ve been playing over 50 years now.
SCENE: Well I guess that leaves us to the last and some might say the most important question … Ginger or Mary Ann?
RR: (pause) Mary Ann.
SCENE: (laughs) There you go! Thanks Richie, looking forward to seeing the show/
RR: Thank you, and don’t forget to go to RichieRamone.com or Facebook Richie Ramone official, those are the hot spots where you can see videos of the tour and all that.
SCENE: Great, I’ll let everyone know.
RR: See you in there, hope you have a good time.
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