Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Apers- Confetti On The Floor

This year has been one of my most favorite in a LONG time not just for the amount of quality pop punk/punk rock releases that have happened, but also the number of people who I consider to be great teachers making their presence known once more. These people who got their start in the early to mid 90's are so important to music and with the way things can be at the moment, I ask the four angels to see their returning in great numbers to show how it's done once more. I've already been an overwhelmed little Riff Randell to experience all that's happened up to this point and just when I thought it couldn't get any cooler, holy shit, The Apers decided to join in too!! They haven't been totally quiet since their last full length LP, appearing on some splits here and there but this is what I was waiting for, an album because it's been way too long and we need it. The moment came together in a collection of thirteen songs grouped together under the title of "Confetti On The Floor". Let's check it out!

The songs were recorded during August 9th-14th at T.U.P. Studio in Brescia, IT by Bruno Barcella and Alessio Lonati who both also took on the role of producer. I absolutely adored the job this studio did with the newest Manges record and this time is no different. With their 50's-70's analog setup, I think they possess such a unique capability to create a sound that's bold and completely tailored to the band's style that they work with each time. Be it punk rock, power pop, or pop punk. There's lots of integrity in that vintage sound! Mastering was done by The Hand Of Doom. The artwork was done by Kevin Aper, a painting of confetti dots against a neutral background which I liked a lot! The Apers have always been able to do all their talking once you press play or drop the needle so a simple cover is good! Official release date happened last Thursday on October 23rd and you can find this record on Monster Zero Records' webstore in the formats of CD,or a GORGEOUS confetti splatter on white vinyl LP(check it out here!). I have to own that vinyl asap. Digital only is available on their newly created bandcamp page where you can also stream the record in full and it should be on iTunes soon as well!

I've always loved The Apers for their balance of absolute talent, tongue in cheek humor, and honesty backed by full on passion. As a music fan who tends to be drawn to the risk takers, I welcome it. That's what punk rock is all about! Saying what you want. This spirit is waiting right behind the front door when the record starts and you hear the first track, "Global Holocaust". Hey, we all have days where we don't like so many people and Kevin is brave enough to turn that feeling into a hilarious song talking about doing away with the problem entirely. Of course in a very catchy way and it has a feeling that's very reminiscent of their early days. I dig it! "To The Bar For Cocktails" is a quick burst of frustration and relief, then it's onto the next, "Jamie Oliver". A tale of misfortune set against a great mid tempo pop punk melody about a severely botched romantic dinner plan. The next one, "Early Dementia" also has a humorous tone lyrically with the topic of forgetting everything, a great solo, and was written by none other than Marien Nicotine! I love both the song and the idea of his contributing to a band I'll always see him as very much a part of. There's two cool cover choices as well, "Break Stuff" by the Priceduifkes and a fantastic rendition of Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction". I've always thought this song works well in punk rock translation when I hear the Dickies version and The Apers really made it their own too! I liked the little twist in the ending verse where it's updated to current times. You have to go all out to represent the magnitude of lyrics like that and they really did! "Mozzarella No More" has that quick, punch you in the face Ramones energy and is the shortest song on the record, clocking in at thirty nine seconds. The guys didn't leave romance out entirely either and you'll hear it in "Totally Barzotto For You". I bet all my Italian friends are laughing right now because of what "barzotto" means but it still falls within the category! "Moonlight Kisses" is the sweeter love song though and my absolute favorite with such a lovely breakdown. It's pure pop perfection. Okay, now when I saw that song title "Dear Ben", I had an inkling of what it may be about, and guess what? I was right...and almost spit coffee out of my nose when the chorus came on haha. Very Weasel-esque guitars in there too! I think it's about time someone makes a little light of that particular situation. There was already so much to love in going through the twelve tracks leading up to the last which also goes by the album title "Confetti On The Floor". It's super hard to choose an overall favorite on this record due to how much diversity is present in the material that was pieced together with such cohesion but if you're forcing me to say it or give you my vinyl collection, this is the one. First off, the arrangement is immaculate but the lyrics themselves had such a deep and moving effect on me. It reminds you to appreciate the moment, no matter where you are in your life because that's always gonna change. Amazing way to close it out!!

The Apers are most certainly not confetti on the floor and show with this brand new effort that they're the kind that's still in motion. Still as relevant as they were when it all started back in 1996, and just as needed too! "Confetti On The Floor" may have came in as 2014 is winding down but it's easily claiming a spot in my top ten for the year. It was more than worth the wait. The guys are on the road right now supporting it through Europe with the So-Cho Pistons from Japan as their tour mates and it won't be wrapping until the 1st of November. Check the dates on their facebook page and of course stay tuned by giving it a like if you haven't already. Not much more to say here other than pick up that wonderful pop punk record and go Apers, go!!

The Apers are...
Kevin Aper- Vocals, Bass
Ivo Backbreaker- Drums
Max Power- Guitar
Mikey Bat Bite- Guitar

1. Global Holocaust
2. To The Bar For Cocktails
3. Jamie Oliver
4. Early Dementia
5. Break Stuff
6. Stop It Now
7. Always Hate Work
8. Mozzarella No More 
9. Totally Barzotto For You
10. Moonlight Kisses 
11. Dear Ben
12. Eve Of Destruction
13. Confetti On The Floor 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chris Polecat Interview(originally published on August 27th,2013 with updates)

There are many names I think of when considering songwriters that have touched  my life. Chris Polecat is one that means a lot to me. He's someone who represents a very special time in music being present to help shape the Italian pop punk movement during the mid 90's as a founding member of the very well known Stinking Polecats. Over a decade later and nearing almost two now since his journey first started in punk rock, his presence remains strong with his band Tough today. He has a uniqueness that definitely separates him from the others, possessing a voice that is unmistakeable, powerful, and amazing. The songs he writes deeply connect to me with a quickness while maintaining such an easy simplicity that is beautiful. Also giving him a such a strong place in my world of favored songwriters is his humble approach. He writes and lets the music speak. Those are just a few qualities that make him completely invaluable to me and getting to witness his talent in person during a 2013 visit to Italy made me even more of a believer in who he is, so I asked for the honor of his presence in an interview. These present times mark a lot of great achievements for him with a wonderful full length LP "4", and most recently a very well received 7" "Obey The Ramones" from Tough, so I decided to share this and add in a few updated questions for him to give us a look at what's happening in the moment. I'm very glad he agreed to do it!

Sara: Hi Chris and thanks for taking a moment to speak with us!

Chris Polecat: Thank you guys! It's always a pleasure for me.

S: You certainly are no stranger to the Italian punk rock scene. Tell us a bit about your start. What led you to wanting to become a musician initially and eventually forming the Stinking Polecats?

CP: Ok, I'll try to summarize! I started playing in April of 1994 thanks to Luca Miccetta and Ciccio (future drummer for the Polecats), when I was called to sing in their  group. I agreed, and we went on for two years. Then I don't know why, I left and I formed a band in February of '96 with Simone and Blanka (current drummer for Cripple Bastards) the Stinking Polecats. We recorded a demo tape after a very short time and at the end of the year, our first 7". Blanka didn't last long in the band, then  Miccetta and Ciccio were added in to complete what I consider the true lineup of the Polecats. We went on for 10 years, then for problems both personal and related to music we disbanded in 2006.

S: As a diehard Ramones fan, I am so enamored with the way you compose a song.I'd like to know who is Chris Polecat as far as personal convictions in music. As a songwriter, what are the main influences that shape your direct and meaningful approach? Tell us about your very first song.

CP: Oh my God! And who remembers what was the first song... Anyway, let's say that I don't decide to write the songs... They usually come to my mind while I'm doing something else, and I whistle to myself on the phone's voice recorder. For me, music must be simple and immediate, something that you whistle all day because the song impressed you. And the influences, obviously the Ramones, and then the whole punk rock of Lookout in the 90's. After all the Stinking Polecats were born due to our boundless love for Screeching Weasel.

S: Ever since the start with your time in the Stinking Polecats and beyond, you've toured with many bands from outside of Italy playing both there and around Europe. Out of those experiences, who were the peers you bonded with most?

CP: In nearly 20 years of activity I was lucky enough to play with almost all of my favorite bands, and I have to tell you that more or less we have always gotten along well with everyone. I could give you some names, but I wouldn't be wrong to none. I'll just tell you that I was amazed by the organization and the way it is to go on a tour with Joe King. It's really an impressive tour-machine.

S: As a veteran of the road with so many nights passed watching punk rock grow and change, what year/part of decade do you think has been the best so far?

CP: Eh Eh! Obviously the second half of the 90's! In those years the scene was really nice, every Saturday there was a good concert, the audience was certainly much larger and  the venues were ran very well. The trend has now reversed, fashion has changed, people listen other music and there's more effort to organize cool events. But we are not discouraged, and we enjoy staying the same as we were before. Of course if there was a Delorean I'd be happy to use it...

    Chris in the beginning: on stage with the Stinking Polecats
S: There was quite a significant change in sound as you transitioned from the dissolving of Stinking Polecats to Tough, creating music that was much more powerful and gritty. Was this something you were already working on/having more of a desire to do for before the break?

CP: In the last Polecats period I can say that I felt a bit frustrated. I wrote two minute songs that were always turned into much longer ones. We all were taking different directions that led nowhere. And to try to please everyone, in the end we have misrepresented what the Stinking Polecats were born for. I have always felt disgusted with arrangements that are too heavy. That's why it's over, and that's why I want to do Tough's material even easier. Let's say that we are a natural evolution of the Stinking Polecats. Anyway, no, the Tough were not already scheduled during the last Polecats period. I can't have more than one band. I have to focus on just one.

S: After Miccetta's initial participation and departure in the beginning, Stefanino came all the way from Palermo to fill the position, and was a big asset to Tough's overall sound. With his recent parting ways from the band, Robi, a longtime member of Italy's scene from Milan has joined the ranks, definitely proving he belongs through his performance at numerous shows with the Monster Zero Mash in Bergamo last July and your most recent tour through Spain as a couple examples. For those who may not be familiar, please tell a bit about this new guitarist and now that there's been several months passed since he joined Tough, what can we expect from this new formation?

CP: I asked Robi to join the band in March. We had started to have logistic problems with Stefanino and he became too busy to work with us on a steady basis. I have a great desire to practice as much as possible. I'm no longer twenty years old and need the training, especially with my voice as much as possible so we decided to make the change from Stefanino. I have to say that he's still my brother. We don't play together at the moment but Biso and I will never forget how important he was for Tough to keep us alive in a very difficult moment. 
So from that point I asked Robi to join us and not as a replacement, but fully as a member of Tough. He accepted the invitation with happiness and in a month's time, learned our entire setlist and conditioned himself to play live as we do with more speed than the records and no breaks in between songs. At this point I'm very relaxed because we can practice once a week and I think you can see it on stage. Eight months have passed by since his first day in the band and he's fucking perfect now. A very tough machine, but I think it's very simple for such a talented guy like him to do. 

    Tough in present day: Biso, Chris, and Robi

S: In spite of all the changes, 2013 and now 2014 have been quite productive for Tough! You've got three releases. The split with Agent Pazz, a wonderful full length "Four", and an extremely successful 7", "Obey The Ramones" just recently. There were two songs left from that last session. Are there any plans to use them? 

CP: Oh yes there is! We gave those last two songs to Paco and Marta from Rufus Recordings for what I think will be a six band split! I'm really happy to work with them because they are so nice and sweet. True punk rock lovers and supporters too. They are one of the reasons I love Spain!

S: As a pioneer of the 90's, I'm sure you've seen the changes America's version of pop punk has went through. More often than not, it's nowhere near what we knew in our younger years. Is it the same way for Italy or do you feel there's more of that beginning spirit surviving there? If so why do you think it is?

CP: Certainly many things have changed. In America as in Italy. I state that it is only a matter of chronological luck, but the fact is that the 90's were the golden era of pop punk for us that we were in and we have contributed to the scene in a very active way. The new generations can't understand it, and it is for this reason that they don't come out with so many good bands anymore. Now everyone wants to sound like Teenage Bottlerocket, which for God sake, are a great band, but I think it is useless to want to play like them and maybe do not know bands like the Huntingtons or Boris The Sprinkler. I think a bit, it's a lack of desire to know what's behind it, why it all started. Many people do not know that Green Day should thank bands like Screeching Weasel and the Queers for every gig they have ....

S:  In our friendship I've definitely found out right from the start that we  both love the Ramones as way of life. Their influence on who you are is evident, even just watching from the outside having no personal knowledge. What are your first  memories of hearing them and what made you decide that this would be a lifetime philosophy for you and especially in Tough with your motto being "Obey The Ramones"?

CP: It's been 20 years that I've listened to the Ramones. Every day. For this I must thank Miccetta and the tapes that he would make for me with Ramones and Bad Religion. The first song I listened to of the Ramones was "I Wanna Be Sedated", and it was love at first sight. Since then I have really become a fanatic and I feel really lucky to have seen them live.

S: Do you think our generation is the last group of people to actually "get" the Ramones?

CP: Well, as I said before, it's simply a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time. The guys who listen to the Ramones now will surely have different motivations from our own. It is already a fortune that Cj is still around and Marky before he became unhinged had done great things with the Intruders ....

S: You wrote a song for Kill That Girl which is a band that Andrea Manges produced a following album for. Being someone who is also a pillar in your music community and possessing a wonderful ear for sound too as I witnessed in my own observation while visiting, do you think you'd ever try your hand as producer if requested?

CP: Ahahahah!!!! I sincerely feel like I'm only a cretin who writes songs. The collaboration with KTG was born thanks to the friendship that I have with Leo. He simply asked me if I wanted to write a song for them and I couldn't say no. But I would never act as a producer for someone in the studio. I can give advice, but I don't feel I would want to tell a band what to do.

S: Something else I admire about you very much outside of your musical career is your just as defined role as tattoo artist with a strong dedication to the traditional style. When did you get your start leading up to the beautiful shop "Infrangible Tattoo" that you now own with your wife Valentina? Which artists have the most influence on your interpretation of traditional style?  

CP: I do not consider myself an artist. I just love tattoos and have always been a fan of them. My first tattoo dates back to '95, the Weasel of course! When I met Valentina we ended up having the desire to start tattooing in common. We spent three years locked in the house to do experiments on ourselves and our friends, the circle gradually widened and then we were "forced" to open the studio. Now it's almost 4 years that we have been open and we are really happy how things are going. I personally have so many artists that I like very much. Let's say that I love simple tattoos with bold lines and a lot of black. A bit like the music I make in fact. Simple things but with great impact.

S: Ok, let's close this out with a few questions just for fun! What is your personal musical taste like at home and in the shop as far as what you like to listen to? Do you see any newer bands coming up in punk rock that you enjoy?

CP: I come into the studio, turn on the iPod in random mode and listen to punk rock all day. Mostly punk rock from '90s, but if I get some new record that I like, I just put it on. The newer records I have put on are the new Leeches one which is a blast and last recording of Deecracks. Currently if I have to say what my favorite newer bands are, I'd choose them.

S: I mentioned a little about this earlier in my question about the new lineup. After the "Obey The Ramones" 7" came out, you went on a tour in support of it through mostly Spain. Tell me, what do you like about their scene? What should someone know about it that's never been there before?

CP: I really don't know where to begin with talking about Spain. It was amazing. In every single city we found a lot of fans and supporters, almost were completely sold out of the merch we brought, and there were the craziest afterparties ever! Especially in Oviedo, where we learned how to drink cider in the right way at four am and also in Bilbao with some of the most crazy drunk, social people we met during the tour. We will probably go back in the Spring and will be happy to do it. They are very passionate people and to play for them is a great pleasure!

S: Now I'd like to thank you greatly for your time once again Chris and deliver the last question of tradition with my interviews. This is one that was really intended for you since I first started to ask it!! You can choose from any of the following categories: top five songs, albums, lyrics, moments, or memories of your choosing related to the Ramones! What is your top five?

 1. Commando
 2. Havana Affair
 3. I Wanna Be Sedated
 4. Poison Heart
 5. Wart Hog
 1. Rocket to Russia
 2. Ramones
 3. Leave Home
 4. Mondo Bizarro
 5Pleasant Dreams
 1. Listening to I Wanna Be Sedated for the first time.
 2. Seeing the Ramones live.
 3. Seeing Dee Dee Ramone live.
 4. Opening for Cj.
 5. Opening for Marky (he's still a Ramone).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CJ Ramone Interview(Originally published on June 18th, 2013)

The Ramones are more than a band and very much way of life for me. As I often say, they are like a breath in my lungs or pulse in my heart. One huge regret I have is never seeing them live in my younger days but on the day I met this man, I was brought so close to the beauty of that spirit. It's very much alive when you are around CJ Ramone. This is due to his great integrity and love for what he helped to keep going from '89 to '96 when he became and will forever be a Ramone. He doesn't take the task of keeping his brothers Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee's spirits here among us and it shows in every move he makes. Also I am always in such admiration of how humble and willing he is to connect even on just a personal level as a friend to the fans. That day, a few summers ago brought me closer to who he is and even though he's got those qualities, I was full of nerves in asking him to do an interview. You could imagine my elation the following day when he responded with, "sure would"! So without further delay, here is the interview I got to do with him. This was such an honor for me to conduct and was done for all of us who love the Ramones, living with their example as philosophy for way of life. Gabba gabba hey!!

Sara: Thank you CJ for taking a moment to spend some time with us!! How have the days been treating you in New York lately?

CJ Ramone: 
Things have been alright. Got a bit of touring coming up to support my new record "Reconquista", and I'm looking forward to finally finishing my book up!

S: At what point in your life did you decide that music would be what you'd peruse? Was bass originally what you started with?

I was into sports up until about 13 when a growth spurt tore up the connective in my knees. I had to wear braces on my legs so that was it for sports. Some friends had a band but no bass player. I got my hands on a bass, taught myself a couple songs, and started playing. I decided music was it for me after playing a talent show at my church. We played an AC/DC song and I lost it. The guy that ran the show told me I looked like I was having convulsions, that was it. I knew I was going to do it.

S: September 30th of 1989. That's an unforgettable date for you. What are your memories and feelings you have that are associated with this date?

September 30th, 1989 was my first show with The Ramones in Leicester, England. One of the greatest moments of my life.

S: As wrote in Ramones Official Bio ( by Jim Bessman, on chapter 17) it talks about your start with the band and how it wasn't very easy. You had a problem with the Marines and were arrested which gave a delay to the band being able to play live. You're quoted in the bio saying, "it was like holding up a train for a conductor who has to piss!" and then what Johnny said about your first gig with them,  "It was really bad, he forgot everything we rehearsed—stay calm, don't move around, move around as you become comfortable. Pick easy, make it look like you're picking hard. But he threw it all out the window! His finger was cut up after one song, he was moving around. But he was fine for the second show.". What was the real key to be loved first by Johnny and Joey, then by the fans?

The beginning was tough. There was a lot to get used to, including the politics within the band, not to mention playing in a band that I had idolized. I'm sure I must have annoyed Johnny when I first came on, I was like a kid on Christmas morning everyday. I was amazed by everything and excited by things that Johnny had been bored with for years. I think he liked me because I had just come out of the Marines and was very mission oriented. If he said learn these songs by tomorrow, I learned them. If he said calm down on stage and play better, I calmed down. He was the officer, I was the grunt. I had no problem with it. 
Joey liked me for the reasons Johnny did not. He appreciated my youthful exuberance. We went to shows together, we went out to eat and hung around talking about politics, music, and life. If I missed the last train home he'd let me stay at his other apartment. Joey was my friend, Johnny was my mentor. They were both really important to me.

S: As far as important parts of the Ramones go, Arturo Vega is a name of great significance. With his recent and untimely passing, the Ramones fan base has been in shock and deep mourning. Seeing that you can always give a bit of light to even the darkest times, can you give us a few words on what Arturo meant to you?

It is sad for all of us, of course, to loose Arturo, but his life and his work was awesome. He created one of the most iconic images in music history, that is recognized everywhere in the world! The Ramones were born in his loft and wrote most of their early songs there. He witnessed and was part of so many great things in his life. Many things, in the art world, that most of us never heard about. The world is poorer without him, but Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee are happy as heck to have him back I am sure.

S: I really feel that you gave the Ramones such a breath of new life when you joined, stepping in to honor a place that was once filled by one of your heroes. Talk to us a bit about the whole creative process of learning the new songs Dee Dee was still contributing. How would the rehearsals go as far as who worked with who? What studio album out of the three you were on was the funnest to record?

Prepping for a record went like this. Everyone would get a tape of the songs submitted for the record. We'd all listen to them, then get together and vote on each song. After the songs were picked, I would learn each song, (guitar, bass, and vocals) and me, Johnny, and Marky would get together and rehearse. After a  few of those, Daniel Rey would come down to the rehearsals and tweak each song and get the tempos set. After that, we'd get into the studio.
Johnny refused to play the songs over and over, so Marky and I would go in to get the drum tracks down. He is a perfectionist so sometimes (the entire Mondo Bizzzarro record) we would have to do 30 takes of one song before he was happy. Once the drums were finished, I'd do my bass tracks. I would be so hyper rehearsed by that time, that it usually took me a couple hours to get my tracks done. After that, I wasn't allowed in the studio until it was time to sing. Johnny would generally get his tracks done quickly. Basic tracks done, Joey's turn. JOEY was even more of a perfectionist than Marky, sometimes working one WORD at a time. Vocal tracks done, the producer would take over and work his magic.
That's how it worked. Pretty standard stuff, but always interesting to watch.
Funnest one to record was Mondo Bizzarro. Working with Ed Stasium was an honor and he is a great guy as well as being responsible for the early Ramones sound along with Tommy Ramone.

S: More often than not, I feel fans and people in general stay very past oriented with you, almost freezing you in time at the final Ramones show in '96. Obviously you will be a Ramone for life but I'd like to set the record straight. Tell us who you are in the nearly 20 years later, who is CJ Ramone also known as Christopher Ward today?

Hmm... Complicated question. I think Cj and Christopher merged at some point. Cj was always in there just waiting to escape. He used to represent all the anger and frustration I felt towards the world. Now it's just the celebration of The Ramones and the fans and the ecstasy of being on stage doing something I was put here to do. There is also a lot of pride in the fact that I've survived and now, I make my own music that I love.

S: It's been well established that upon entering the Ramones, you were a huge fan but there's another part of you as a music lover that I like very much! In just watching the way you move on stage in 90s footage, it's clear to see you have a metal background. Tell us a bit about your love for this genre and how it has shaped you as a musician.

Like I said, Black Sabbath is my all time favorite, but I always loved the rebelliousness of punk. There was an "us against them" thing about it I was drawn to. Then the New Wave of British Metal hit. Iron Maiden's first two records bridged the gap between punk and metal for me. Paul DiAnno was way more street than Metal Warrior. He gave Maiden soul. "Iron Maiden" and "Killers" are incredibly deep records. Steve Harris and Clive Burr to this day are still my favorite drum, bass combo right behind Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Judas Priest was another band I listened to constantly. Early Scorpions and Michael Schenker Group from Germany, RIOT from the U.S. I saw Metallica and Raven in a little club near my house and was blown away. Anthrax and S.O.D., metal took over. There were no punks where I lived besides me and two other guys. My record collection was so bi-polar it was scary. Looking back, I just wanted to rage. I didn't care if it was punk or metal. If I liked it I bought it. That's a punk attitude.

S: Also from just observing what you will post on Facebook, its clear to see that you have an extremely well versed background covering many genres as a music lover. On a typical day, what would you listen to from morning to night?

Ramones first 4 records would do it for me.

S: As a veteran of music with three other bands you fronted in addition to your role in the Ramones, "Reconquista" was your first experience of just standing behind your name as a solo project. Even though you're so well loved and known, was this something that nerves came along with as far as the way this record was very much just you?

The only thing I worry about is doing something that doesn't live up to the Ramone name. I recorded "Reconquista" 3 times before I liked it enough to release. I've tried to get the best players I possibly could to tour with. Daniel Rey, Brant Bjork from Kyuss, Steve Soto and Dan Root from The Adolescents, and most recently, Jonny Wickersham and Dave Hidalgo from Social Distortion. I do everything I can to do it with respect for The Ramones.

S: In wanting to keep the release of "Reconquista" d.i.y. as possible, you chose to go through pledgemusic. This allowed you to really give a lot to the fans who chose to pledge but also pretty much meant that you'd take on  the huge task of handling every single detail. I'm sure it has been both pleasure and stress since a self release is no easy task! What have been the best and worst moments of the whole process? Would you do it the same way if you had the choice to go back to the start?

The Pledge Campaign has been a great experience. Being directly in touch with the fans is the way I wanted to do it. It has been tough, but only because the company that was supposed to manufacture and ship the gear, backed out a few days after we reached our goal. It left me and my manager Gene "Big Duke" Frawley scrambling to find companies to produce the gear. It took us awhile, but we've finally got it under control. Lesson learned!

S: I adore the range of what is heard on the album as far as what areas you touch on from the Ramones, to the more personal, and even the covers that came out so beautiful! For the original material on "Reconquista", were they songs you had written over the years and didn't quite fit with other projects or were they all written expressly for this album?

There may have been a riff or two I had  laying around, but all the songs were written for the album. In fact "Now I Know" was written in the studio. There were 3 songs I removed because they didn't fit the record. I will probably put them on my next one.

S: I am crazy for the entire album but would like to focus on two tracks just to get a more in depth look at you as a songwriter. First one I'd like to talk about is "Three Angels". Tell me how you chose the message for each of your brothers. Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee. Was it a difficult choice to make seeing how you've had so many years in knowing what it was to be with them on a person to person level? Or maybe just more of an intuition?

I wish I could say I was clever enough to sit down and think those lines up, but the truth is I didn't. I was driving in my car when the chorus came to me. I pulled over and wrote it on a piece of paper. Then the verses came out one after another. Honest to God it poured out of the pen onto the paper like I'd heard it a million times. The lyrics, the melody, the arrangement, it was all there. I like to believe that Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee put it in my head!!!

S: Ok, second one! Choosing one track that I connected to deeply and instantly on an emotional level to you personally was "Low On Ammo". Every bit of it was a work of art at first listen from the melody, to the way the lyrics build, and the openness and bravery in your voice. My eyes welled at the moment you say "Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee belong to us!" with the sincerity they're delivered in. Can you talk to me about the inspiration and back story behind this one?

After Johnny died there was a rush of books, documentaries, interviews, and articles by all these people that "knew" the band. They all talked about the personal lives of Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee and about all the bad things they'd done and how awful (especially in Johnny and Dee Dee's case) they were. I am not saying that the stories weren't true, but  more attention was being put on their failed relationships and other bullshit than what really counts, and that is their music. I also had some problems with  Ramones Productions Inc after Johnny and Joey died that I mention also. It really is a song to rally the troops!!!

S: This is probably one that many people are wondering about as far as the new record is concerned. If we weren't able to pledge while the campaign was open, when will "Reconquista" be available as a physical release to the masses? Also since the campaign is over, will you be allowing it back on the download sites like iTunes?

It will be available through my website.  I am not sure about the digital download sites yet.

S: Then one I'm sure everyone wants to know!! Are you working on more songs for another CJ Ramone album yet?

I have about half a new record written.

S: For these last four questions, lets lighten the mood and have some fun!.... Ok, I lied. This definitely is a serious question(wink wink), how do you take your coffee? Being a fellow member of the church of happiness(coffee) also makes me wonder something else. Seeing how you've been so many places in the world, where have you had your best cup?

I take my coffee with milk. Best cup in the world? Probably Brasil.

S: One love of yours that I've picked up on in my own observation is motorcycles. At what point in your life did you discover them? What would be your ideal trip to get away, just you and your bike?

I always liked motorcycles. Easy Rider made me want one. I got my first street bike in my late teens. A Kawasaki KLR 650 and I've owned one ever since. I already did my dream ride through the U.S. Someday I'd like to ride across Australia.

S: Italy is a country you visit frequently and you're getting ready to head out there once more next month! I can certainly see why with my recent first experience of going out there. As someone here in America who is quite fond of their punk rock scene, it makes me excited to see you play with good friends of mine like Tough and the Manges. What are your first memories of being there and what makes it such a special place/musical community to you after all these years?

My mothers family lives in  Italy(although her last name is Greek) so ancestry is part of the reason why I always wanted to go. Now I enjoy the culture and the fans. They're not as rabid as the  South Americans, but they treat me as a family member when I am there. There is a sincerity in them that I really like.

S: Now we're making it to our close so I'd like to thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk with us and present you with the final question. Since my very start of doing interviews, I've made a tradition of asking a Ramones related question which I always do last. I'm over the moon right now with a Ramone in my hot seat!! What are your top five moments experienced as a Ramone covering from the very start of your time in the first rehearsal to the last show?

5.  Playing River Plate Stadium in Argentina.
       4.  Playin on stage with Lemmy at the last Ramones show.
       3.  Recording "Mondo Bizzarro".
       2.  First show September 30th, 1989Leicester, England.
       1.  Finding out I got the audition while in custody of the United States Marine Corps