San Francisco Bay Guardian Online | By Taylor Kaplan
MUSIC The progression of party-rock champion Andrew W.K.’s career reads less like a linear trajectory than a whirlwind of bizarre, hilarious, and downright enviable undertakings. After he started out as a keyboardist in New York’s avant-garde circles, and built his reputation with a handful of ecstatic butt-rock records (most notably 2001’s I Get Wet, featuring that iconic nosebleed on its cover), W.K.’s biography plunged into full-on chaos mode.
From new-age piano improviser on 2009’s 55 Cadillac, to kids’ game-show host on Cartoon Network’s Destroy Build Destroy, to celebrity ambassador of Playtex Fresh + Sexy Wipes, to valiant record-setter for Longest Drum Session in a Retail Store after this year’s much-blogged 24 Hour Drum Marathon, predicting W.K.’s next move over the past decade has proved futile. Yet, his latest gig might be the most wonderfully surprising of all: assuming the bandleader role in the latest incarnation of punk-rock legends, the Ramones.
Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, featuring W.K. on lead vocals, will hit the Independent this Saturday night, introducing a new twist in the Ramones’ storied legacy.
Speaking to the Bay Guardian over the phone from St. Louis, on his second US tour stop as the band’s de-facto Joey figure, W.K. sets his zany, carefree party persona aside, revealing himself as both humbled and starstruck at the reality of leading the band he’s idolized for so many years.
“It’s a combination of feeling on top of the world, because dreams just keep coming true, and terrified by the magnitude of how fantastic the opportunity is, and also, not embarrassed, but just aware, of how many other people would like to have this chance to sing these songs with Marky. Why do I get it?” W.K. ponders.
“I feel very, very lucky, like I want to represent all my friends and all the people around the world that love this music so much. I feel like I’m doing this on [their] behalf, and that this opportunity is to be shared as much as possible, at least in spirit.”
Most famously led by Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy, the most iconic quadfecta of first names in rock since the Beatles, the Ramones forever changed the course of pop music, as one of the formative outfits of the punk rock movement. The songs, from “Blitzkrieg Bop,” to “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” to “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” were hedonistic in their intent, and radically economical in their structure and duration, feeding directly into the party mindset W.K. would adopt decades afterward.
Their records, from the skeletal beginnings of Leave Home and Rocket to Russia in 1977, to the Phil Spector-produced technicolor pop of End of the Century in 1980, certainly marked an artistic progression, but W.K. thinks of it differently.
“All the albums are just this big explosion of inspired genius. It’s hard to even break it apart. I don’t want to break it apart, actually. I just like thinking of the whole thing as just this one phenomenon.
“[The Ramones are] so singular. They’re so completely self-actualized, that just them standing there screams this certain feeling, and no one else has it… When we play live, it almost feels as if the show is one song.”
While Marky Ramone didn’t join the band until partway through its creative explosion (he took over for Tommy on drums in ’78, after several stints with the Misfits and Richard Hell & the Voidoids), he continues to keep the Ramones legacy alive, as its last remaining member after the deaths of Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee, from lymphoma, prostate cancer, and a heroin overdose, respectively. W.K. is clearly inspired by Marky’s resilience, through tumultuous times that would’ve rendered positive, joyful music a near impossibility for many musicians moving forward.
This is the most PATHETIC show I’ve ever seen. Having a tool like Andrew CK (whatever his fuckin name is) to sing classic songs by the Ramones is a disgrace to their legacy and to true fans alike. The article states, “Ramones fans can expect 30+ songs…” WTF!? “Ramones fans”? True Ramones fans will NOT be seeing this shit. This show is for hipsters, yuppies, jocks & tools that only want to see this stupid ass doing stupid shit. Marky, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m out!
Posted by Bernal Rob on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:51 pm
I totally agree! This Andrew Wk idiot sounds like such an asshole jock yuppie piece of scum. He doesn’t even look like a real Ramone or even a true punk. Fuck him!
Posted by Petey Ramone on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 2:19 pm
The more I think about this piece of shit Andrew CK asshole, the more pissed off I get. True Ramones fans like true punks and true people – not bullshit poseuos douchebags. Ramones fans will NOT see someone who isn’t a true punk sing this music. That is SHIT! WTF? All true punk fans aren’t idiots. We don’t just follow trends or hipster shit. We are true original people who don’t just go and pose like douches trying to look cool like this dick Andrew K.
Ramones fan? True Ramones fans will NOT support this or people performing or talking about the Ramones like this. This Andrew guy is insulting and making horrible music. All you yuppies and jocks are just piece of shit poser tools that only want to see horrible music performed by a fucking ass clown doing bullshit songs.
NOT TRUE PUNK.
Posted by Petey Ramone on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:06 pm
This is the most PATHETIC show I’ve ever seen. Having a tool like Andrew CK (whatever his fuckin name is) to sing classic songs by the Ramones is a disgrace to their legacy and to true fans alike. The article states, “Ramones fans can expect 30+ songs…” WTF!? “Ramones fans”? True Ramones fans will NOT be seeing this shit. This show is for hipsters, yuppies, jocks & tools that only want to see this stupid ass doing stupid shit and make money. Marky, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m out!
Posted by Bernal Rob on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:52 pm
I am all up for seeing the other remaining Ramones play, but not with Andrew W.K.
I have seen Dee Dee solo, I have seen Marky in two other bands after the Ramones and they were good. I remember when the Ramones/Misfits/Black Flag hybrid band played.
Those were all fun, but I do not see how this will be that great.
I think that the FOUR remaining Ramones should get together and play a set. It is three drummers and a bassist, but the songs are pretty straight forward and CJ can sing.
So I put my vote in for the next Ramones tribute to be; Tommy, Marky, CJ and Ritchie.
Posted by Anthony on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:17 pm
Andrew k is terrible, terrible, terrible. First of all, he has no energy or punk spirit. He doesn’t even understand the punk way of life or the true spirit of being a Ramone. He’s weaering all white! What the fuck?!
This fucking ass-clown should eat shit and die before he ever gets to sing true punk songs. He’s not a real punk or a true Ramone fan because he’s shit with nothing to offer the true fans. Doesn’t look right. Doesn’t sound right. And everything he says in this interview sucks.
We’ll stand by the real singers and wait for someone worethy and worth our die-hard attention. Ansdrew Wk is BULLSHIT. Not punk.
Posted by Petey Ramone on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 2:53 pm
I agree! This Andrew K guy sounds like a total asshole. I’m a true Ramones fan and I know that Andrew isn’t a true punk or even a true person. Just listen to any of his horrible “music” and you can tell this guy is a total douche! FUCK WK! He sucks and itsn’t punk or even a real person.
Posted by Petey Ramone on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 2:08 pm
Oh? So to be “punk” you have to “look like a true” something or another? Reminds me of the early 80s when I was into punk and I went to the record store and I was walking out with a Black Flag album and the “punks” hanging outside the store laughed at me and said, “You can’t be punk because you aren’t wearing Doc Martens.” EL OH EL. “Look like” someone else if you want, I am myself and I love Andrew’s style. (as well as the Ramones)
Posted by Thelemic Waves on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:22 pm
I can’t begin to disagree with you more. Those punks that laughed a( you were right. I can just tell from reading what you wrote that you are some sort of “music fan” posueor.
Get real or get out.
Posted by Petey Ramone on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:10 pm
you simple have to refuse to pay attention to any self styled prima donna telling you what you have to “be” – to fit into their elitist definition of what punk, or anything else, is about
is to usurp the idea that any person or group should be telling anyone else what the fuck to think, how to dress, how to play music, etc
so the concept that there is some sort of “true” punk paradigm is laughably self contradictory
Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:10 pm
Maybe Marky can determine which of you will be able to enjoy the show opposite him (not onstage) with the “I know what punk is!” banner/albatross you are touting. Marky, how should he know? He just rode one of the most influential rock bands into your collection.
Andrew is great, positive to tour with, & completely insane. You can’t ask for a better person to touring with. Engaging sockray.
Posted by Guest Post Punk Sock on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:48 pm
If he hits the road again there ought to be a 40 foot mop robot with rose eyeballs & an eagle mask. Joey’s voice will be culled from the original half inch tapes, the mop moving back and forth moving the mic stand. No one is going to be happy with the Ramones catalog until then. Oh ya, Alice Cooper, Keith Morris, and Dave MDC show up for the encore new hit autotune “Rock The Mop”.
Posted by MJB Holany on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:29 pm