Well, well. It took a while (ok, 5 years…) but here is the second part of the interview. Here is my suggestion: read the first part (here) and then read this one. That was a great day, I still remember every single seconds : everything was just incredible, a great day with a punk rock legend. Special thanks goes straight to Enri Gluesniffer because of the help and the support during the inteview, Matt Failure from Proton Packs because he is the one who transcribed it and Matt Gyver for the italian translation. Without them noone would be able to read it. Thanks. Last but not least, Joe Queer to be so friendly with me and let me post this interview after so many years. Please keep in mind that the interview is really old and in the meantime many things are certainly changed… because I got many requests to publish the second part of this interview… Here you are… enjoy! Can’t fucking wait to see the Queers in few days!
Let’s say an important thing. You contacted I Buy Records just yesterday because you read our interview to your ex-bandmate B-Face (interview is now available at Ramona Confidential) and there is something you want to clarify. Of course we can’t refuse to give you the right space to express your point of view and be free to say what you want. Here you go. What you wanna say about it?
This is the good part. I read that thing and I e-mailed him about it, and you know, i really feel bad about the whole thing, I really care about B-Face. Hugh wanted me to stay with B-Face but it was a fucked up situation, we went from like fuckin’ around in my basement in my restaurant, to be in Rolling Stone Magazine, we were in Lookout Records we got good fucking loyalties and good checks and all the shit fucked up, I did the best I fuckin’ could do but we ended up in a bad spot, people asked B-Face how he putted up with that shit so long but dude, we were travelling around the world, you got your royalties checks and shit wasn’t so bad to be all fucked up, so I write him “Dude, I don’t think I’ve treated anyone so bad , I remember arguing with you but I don’t remember I’ve treated you so bad“. We never stopped in making albums that sold quite well too, we were always touring, i think we canceled one tour in Europe or something because we were all fucked up but we didn’t skip a bit because of it; so everybody loved B-Face and they didn’t love me so everybody was believing in every fuckin’ story and people coming up giving me the finger and I didn’t know why! What did I do to be so bad? We did good! We were all fucked and that was the magic of The Queers: we were all fucked up! Honestly, I did e-mail B-Face and then he emailed me back but I gotta read it, I rather be friends with him now, because I’m older and I put more value in friendship, whatever I did it wasn’t worth it. Doesn’t make sense to know who is right and who is wrong in this whole thing.
I talked to Ben Weasel and I was like “Ben, people give me the finger, people that don’t know me: people believe all this bad stuff and nobody talks to me”. Only my close friends like Ben Weasel and Dan Vapid knew the truth about what happened when we broke up. Ben knows about getting some shit, people would fucking hate him, he goes “Dude, most of the people who give you that shit they don’t know you and the only way you’re gonna fucking change right now is to start a new day”. And I fucking just marched through, day by day, and I just kept away from the people who gave me shit, just played the game by my rules and now people know me. It took a while, though.
Do you think the Queers achieved the success they deserve or do you think they could have reached a higher level? Do you have any regrets?
We got to a point when we were able to play a Tuesday night and 200 kids would show up and we got royalty checks and I thought “I don’t give a fuck what happens after this. This is way more successful than I ever thought I would be”. When you have that mindset, it’s all gravy. It’s all gravy when you get 100 kids in Pescara, Italy, on a fucking Monday night. That’s great, you know. I wish we had gone to Epitaph, not because we would have probably made more money – the way I was on drugs it might have killed me, I almost killed myself with the money I had, so if I had earned more I don’t know if I would have made it. But when Mr. Brett talked to me, and I told him I wanted to work with Andy Paley and Brian Wilson he said “That’s how I wanna run my label, I wanna make this stuff happen for bands! That’s why I run a label, more than making money”. That’s why I regret not going and I wished it had happened. I was so excited when Brett talked to me like that.
Also the Joey Ramone 7”
Exactly, and Brett was very tight with Joey! Who know what would have happened. I wasn’t a good businessman. If I had been, we would have done that e.p. with Andy Paley and Joey because we would have jumped on it within a month. I know that now, but back then I thought “I can wait until next year or something”. That’s why I regret not going to Epitaph. But as far as getting as big as Green Day… nah. I don’t think with our name we would have anyway. I didn’t have any illusions, you know.
What is Joe Queer currently listening to as far as personal taste in music? Could you tell us some new bands you really love?
Old stuff like Jan & Dean… cause I would talk to Joey Ramone about it and he loved it, so it was cool to realize he was onto the same stuff. That’s where our hearts were.
It’s very “Don’t back down”style
Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of this stuff.
So it looks like the next record will be closer to “Don’t back down”
Yeah, I was talking to Lisa Marr who sings on “Don’t back down” and she just sent me a song I’ve been listening to nonstop. This is a cover she just did for a compilation benefit tribute. It’s an old song from the ‘70s from some unknown rocker. I’ve been getting on some more poppy-type things and some soul stuff as well. There was this band from Brazil that never hit it big and had this one song whihch was great. The lyrics gotta be changed. They had this album on a major label 15 years ago that was never released. I don’t wanna say the name around too much until we get it done, but it’s a really cool tune.
So you almost answered my next question! There are rumors about a new Queers record. Is it true? Any confirmation you can give us?
We’re re-doing Beyond the valley of the ass-fuckers album, which isn’t too poppy. We’re doing it next month and it’s gonna be on Asian Man. Hopeless Records hasn’t paid us in years so I got a lawyer and I was talking to Blag from the Dwarves and he was fighting with Sub-Pop and said I wanna re-record those albums and put them out myself!”. So, we’re re-doing “Beyond the valley”, then we’re gonna record, I’m hoping in May, “Punk Rock Confidential”. We’re gonna film a dvd of the whole thing. We’re hoping to do it in LA. I’m hoping to get Lisa down and my buddy Scott from a great band called the Piniellas from Seattle. Richie Ramone would get to do a cameo, that’s why I wanna do it in LA. Dangerous Dave and Chris are gonna be on it too.
Then I’m trying to get together with Ben Weasel, ‘cause we wanna do this project with Richie Ramone drumming and Ben Weasel singing and me on guitar. But it’s like that Joey Ramone / Andy Paley thing. I realize if it’s gonna happen, I gotta make it happen, cause everybody’s so busy. Richie’s doing a new solo album tour, Ben is always busy cause he’s got a family. But I wanna do that next. And then I got my book. I’m hoping to get done this year and praying to get it out by the end of the year or within a year. It’s gonna be killer, it’s coming out great.
What’s it about? What’s it called?
I can’t say the name because it’s so good I’m afraid someone gonna steal it. It’s centered around the Marky Ramone tour we did. It’s not about Marky Ramone at all, it’s about touring… behind the scenes at the level we’ve kind of had and the stupid shit that happens. It’s about traveling with the band, basically stories. You don’t have to make anything up, you have to just tell the truth, all this crazy insanity. All these tour books are all about these huge stars, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen. There’s never been a book about a little band, at our level, day-to-day touring, what goes on and whatever. I’m really psyched about the whole thing.
And then te’ll do a pop album next. Lisa will do demos. If this other stuff gets done, then we’ll start it.
You were talking about a new side project of you and your longtime friend Ben Weasel. Could you tell us something about it? Which is the band’s line-up? It’s public domain that Ben Weasel doesn’t like to tour like you. Is there a chance of any live shows?
I don’t know. I did talk to Richie and he was psyched about it. And Ben said “Fuck, I’ll do it”. We’ll be a thing where we’ll play once or twice a year. Those guys are both busy. Richie’s got this cool new solo album and I’m busy with the Queers. The only way that band would play more is if we had a number one hit on the radio, which ain’t gonna happen! I said to Ben “Dude, this is Richie” and to us Ramones fans we always loved Richie, we always looked up to him because he wrote songs too. So I said “Fuck let’s do it!” Richie’s cool as fuck anyway. I met him. I handn’t talked to him in like 20 years and within 5 minutes he was like the long lost friend you grew up with. I’m gonna try to make that happen.
You still haven’t recorded any songs?
No. I only have songs ideas that we’re gonna do. But we got some cool ideas so we’ll see. Ben has written a couple of songs that he wrote for the Queers and we never recorded. I would like to do “I wanna be happy” because Ben and I wrote it and he never got to sing it and he always wanted to. It would be kind of cool because he had a different idea on it and, with Richie drumming, it would be cool. Anyway it’s gonna be a Ramonesy type kind of thing. There’s a couple of songs on Back to the basement that I wanna work on with Ben Weasel and re-write. I also have a couple of originals that I think would be great. I’m gonna try and make this happen. I would be fun.
Every year we hear rumors about it being the last Queers tour and bullshit like this. Instead you don’t give up and you’re still kicking ass after so many years. Do you imagine your life without the band?
People ask once in a while How long are you gonna be playing? I don’t even think about it anymore, to me this is my life. I make a living out of it and at this point I think I’m just gonna keep going and see what happens. I don’t think Ben Weasel thought he’d be playing this long either. We’re all unemployable. What else are we gonna do? Work at the grocery store or Burger King? None of us has a safety net under us. We’re not college educated people, Richie Ramone, Ben Weasel and me. We got nothing else.
Do you imagine your life without the band? Who would be Joe King without the Queers?
I had a restaurant. I was a chef owner, I loved cooking, I was really good at it. Joe’s Place: Screeching Weasel ate there, the guys from Jawbreaker came in. I was in the process of buying another reastaurant in a bigger town near Portsmouth. I had no illusions about the band. I thought we were gonna do another album and then I was gonna buy another restaurant, that’s what I was doing. That’s what I’d be doing without the band.
I Buy Records is a Ramones-nerdish webzine. We have a real obsession for those Forest-Hills guys, so everytime we interview someone, we have the tradition of asking the last question about them. Last year we had CJ’s “Reconquista”, Joey Ramone’s “Ya know?” and Richie Ramone’s “Untitled”. Did you listen to these records? What do you think about them?
Richie’s stuff I loved because we kinda became friends with him and it was interesting what he did. I think “Smash you” was as good as the other stuff the Ramones did, I think it was really cool. It’s cool because it’s the stuff he felt he would have done with the Ramones, had he stayed with the band. We’ve been friends, he just emailed me yesterday. I’m very supportive, I think his album’s great.
Joey’s thing… I didn’t think too much of it… it feels too much like scraping the bottom of the barrel. He told me that he wanted stronger songs, he wasn’t happy with the first album. He said “People will kiss my ass and say it’s great”, but deep down I need stronger songs. “Maria Bartiromo” and “What a wonderful world” he was happy with. I thought it was really cool that he was so honest, that he thought he could do better. I thought some of that album was spotty as a first solo album. This other stuff is interesting. One of his best friends was Evil from the Independents. Joey had it in his will that he wanted Evil to go through his own belongings and tapes and all that stuff.
Do you think there’s more material?
I don’t think there’s too much, according to Evil. He played me a couple of things, songs idea that Joey had on cassette tape. Nothing too exciting, though.
It’s not a secret that the Queers are influenced by the Ramones. What does this band mean to Joe Queer? What are your best memories related to the Ramones?
That was it, you know? I couldn’t believe that these guys were singing about all that stuff I felt, like after high school sitting around, not washing dishes, drinking beer at night. We knew we were smarter than everybody else out there but we didn’t know what we were doing or how to express ourselves and the Ramones came along with “I don’t care”, “I just wanna have something to do”, “Loudmouth”, “Beat on the brat”. We were like “This is amazing! These guys are singing about how we feel, you know?” So we loved them from the word go.
We knew them and we would always get backstage. In ’78 we would get backstage. In 1986 Joey gave me his address and I sent him a 4-song cassette with songs from “Grow up”: Goodbye California, Love love love, I’ll be true to you and I don’t wanna get involved with you. I saw him at a show about three months later, I snucked backstage. The Ramones never had hard security to get backstage but my buddy Kevin who knew them better couldn’t get to the show. So I said “I’m Richard Hell from the Voidoid’s cousin and I’m here to see Joey”. And Monte said “Richard Hell doesn’t have a cousin!” and I said “Joey, this is Joe from the Queers” and Joey said “Monte, it’s cool”. Johnny and Dee Dee were back there playing ping pong, I remember that. Joey knew the Queers because of the tape. He came to me and said “Dude, I gotta tell you… Love love love is a great fucking tune. I would love to cover this song. Goodbye California, I love that tune too because it’s got great vocal phrasing”. We talked about those 2 tunes and, like I said to his Mom after he died, I never forgot that. Joey Ramone, my hero, coming up and saying that! I was astounded, I couldn’t believe it. He knew my songs! I was really insecure and I remember thinking “Maybe I can play music!”, you know? I was walking on the air for 2 months.
So, will you play these songs tonight for us?
I don’t know, man. Maybe Love love love. Goodbye California I don’t think the drummer knows it. But boy, did that mean a lot to me! I didn’t even know if my songs were good, I was an insecure little kid. I needed to be validated by someone, because we didn’t have a following. What a nice person, he was always nice to his fans. He was not like the other guys in bands who always talk about girls and drugs. He liked to talk about music and songs. A friend of mine got to know Keith Richards when then Rolling Stones were in New York and it was the same thing. It was amazing how he was still so much into music, after this amazing career. It really helped me to hear this stuff, you know? It’s great, going down this path, seeing kids, traveling and playing. I would probably have more money now if I had kept that restaurant. But now everybody in my life I’ve known through music; very few people from growing up. You guys, Dave and Chris and Lurch… it’s amazing the life it’s given me, even at this little level. This is the point behind my book. You don’t have to be a big rock star like Bruce Springsteen to get life lessons out of it. You can do it right here at this level. And the thing with music is that you never know around the bend of the river. You never know what’s out that door tomorrow. I know there’s another gig but I don’t what’ll happen next week in Barcelona. Maybe with Richie Ramone, maybe with Ben Weasel, maybe with Lisa Marr, my book… I got the next two years booked and it’s like “I can’t wait!” you know? To be excited about your job and your life is great. It’s pretty amazing, especially from a guy like me who I thought all he was supposed to do was do drugs. That was success to me, to be able to do drugs every night or something like that.
I would like to thank you for inviting me to have this interview. I’m really honered I had this opportunity to spend this moment with you. Is there anything else you wanna add?
No! I think we covered it all and then some!