Results for Ramones

interviews

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21
specials

1977 - The Year Punk Broke

In the second and final installment of our series 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg explore the punk movement stateside with music writer Ira Robbins. Ira founded the music magazine Trouser Press in 1974. As a music journalist in New York, he was a fixture of the CBGBs scene, regularly "taking [his] life in his hands" to go to second avenue and hear bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, the Dead Boys, and Television play divey clubs. Whereas punk enjoyed a rapid rise in the U.K. in 1977, Ira describes the New York scene as more of a slow simmer. Fans gradually migrated from clubs like Max's Kansas City, where glam acts like The New York Dolls ruled, to clubs like CBGBs where a younger, rawer set of performers was defining the punk look and sound. Though the Ramones, with their simple song structures and leather jackets became emblematic of New York punk, Ira remembers a diverse scene. The Dead Boys, Television, and The Talking Heads may not have sounded the same, but in economically-depressed 70s-era New York, they shared an attitude that "life sucked, it's probably not going to get better, but so what."

Jim and Greg each choose a favorite track from the New York scene. Greg goes with the Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government" from the band's self-titled debut. More than any other band, the Talking Heads epitomized New York punk's diversity. Their first gig may have been opening for the Ramones, but Greg contends the band's sound was more dance than punk. Still, Byrne's narrator in this song - a stressed, neurotic government bureaucrat - taps into the anxiety of the punk era. Jims goes with the ultimate American punk anthem, Richard Hell's "Blank Generation." The story goes that U.K. punk impresario Malcolm McLaren saw Hell perform the song in the U.S., then returned home and advised The Sex Pistols to write something "just like it, but your own."

Go to episode 351

1977–The Year Punk Broke Pt. 2

In the second and final installment of our series 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg explore the punk movement stateside with music writer Ira Robbins. Ira founded the music magazine Trouser Press in 1974 and was a fixture at the CBGBs scene. They discuss the U.S. punk scene in '77, and seeing bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, the Dead Boys, The Talking Heads and Television play divey clubs. They also talk about the differences between the groups' sounds and images, and what New York City was like in 1977.

Jim and Greg each choose a favorite track from the New York scene. Greg goes with the Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government" from the band's self-titled debut. Jim goes with the ultimate American punk anthem, Richard Hell's "Blank Generation."

Go to episode 607
classic album dissections
The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Edition)The Velvet Underground & Nico available on iTunes

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico

According to Jim and Greg, few albums are worthier of the Classic Album Dissection treatment than The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed teamed with avant-garde violist/bassist John Cale in the mid-'60s to form the core of the band, joined by guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. The sonic assault of their live performances caught the attention of Andy Warhol. Warhol provided the funding for their debut album in 1966 and created the iconic banana cover art. He also insisted on featuring German chanteuse Nico on several tracks.

The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967 against a backdrop of psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band. Its noisy, stark depictions of junkies and sadomasochism in New York City didn‘t fit well with that San Francisco feeling, and the album didn’t sell. But over the past half century, its reputation has grown to the point that, as Jim and Greg argue, it's become the most influential album in rock history. Each track has launched an entire genre, from the goth rock of "Venus in Furs" to the noise rock of "European Son" to the proto-shoegaze in "Heroin." It's hard to imagine bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones, or Radiohead existing without The Velvet Underground & Nico. On the album's 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg tell the history of the band, give a detailed examination of each of the album's songs, and share their thoughts on its legacy.

Go to episode 597
reviews
¡Uno!21st Century Breakdown available on iTunes

Green Day 21st Century Breakdown

As a band Green Day is so firmly rooted in the adolescent mindset, it's easy to forget how much history they have. As Jim points out, Green Day predates the nineties alternative era. They started out as an East Bay band riffing on the Ramones and playing VFW halls. Today they have a musical, American Idiot, and nine studio albums to their name. The ninth, !Uno! is just out. Billed as a“back to basics”record, Greg says !Uno! really samples from several of Green Day's eras - from the teenage sneer of Dookie, to the "Time of Your Life" balladry of Nimrod. What's missing on !Uno!, he says, is the ambition of the band's later records, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. For Greg, Green Day's harkening back to its teenage self (particularly in its foul language on this record) feels like a step backward. He gives !Uno! a Trash It. Jim agrees !Uno! is a big disappointment. The only thing that saves it from the garbage heap is the great Dookie-era production of Rob Cavallo. Jim gives !Uno! a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 357
dijs

Jim

“Acknowledge”Screeching Weasel

This week, it's by Chicago punk band Screeching Weasel. For Jim, Screeching Weasel is key to understanding the current pop/punk explosion of bands like Blink 182, Sum 41 and fellow Chicagoans Fall Out Boy. In addition, this band has one of the best-documented histories in rock. A few years ago Ben œWeasel Foster put out a highly autobiographical novel that alludes to his time in the band. Recently, his Weasel partner John Jughead Pierson released his fictional response, Weasels in a Box. Despite their great influence on rock, many people have not heard of the band. One of the reasons for this, Jim notes, is that Foster suffered from agoraphobia, preventing the band from touring much. They were highly prolific, however, and recorded almost an album a year for 13 years. "Acknowledge" was released on Screeching Weasel'™s last album before disbanding. In the song, both Weasels sing about agoraphobia and substance abuse, but without losing their punk rock sense of humor or catchy, Ramones-style three-chord structure. It'™s this combination, says Jim, that makes Screeching Weasel one of the best bands Chicago has ever produced.

Go to episode 8
features

Hooked on Sonics: Jason Narducy

This is the first of our new series called Hooked on Sonics, where we ask a musician to talk about a single song that turned music into their passion. For this installment, we hear from Jason Narducy. Jason tours as part of Bob Mould's band, he plays bass for Superchunk, and has his own band Split Single. The song that got him Hooked on Sonics was "Ramones Medley" from the Ramones' Rock n Roll High School soundtrack.

Go to episode 587
news

Music News

First up in the news, Pepsi is launching a music label in China. This is a strange, but perhaps smart move considering the large, untapped market there. The soda company will produce a "Battle of the Bands" television show to find artists to record. In addition, those artists will be featured in Pepsi ads.

Two sad news items follow. First is the death of Mink DeVille frontman Willy DeVille. DeVille was one of the key artists from the CBGB punk scene. But, he distinguished himself from the Blondies and Ramones with his unique sound. He was more a child of the Brill Building music of the '60s, and actually introduced Jim and Greg to a lot of those influences. To honor DeVille they play his Jack Nitzsche-produced track "Spanish Stroll."

John HughesAnother recent death is that of director, writer and producer John Hughes. While Hughes isn't necessarily a music figure, Jim and Greg know that he was a huge fan. His musical choices in films like "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles" influenced what young people heard, and for many teens it was their first exposure to "alternative" music. In honor of Hughes, Jim and Greg play the original version of "Pretty in Pink," by the Psychedelic Furs.

Go to episode 194