22 MINUTES WITH JOE QUEER
HT FACTORY, Seregno, 31.3.2019
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Ciao Joe! We’ve come up with a bunch of questions for you. We don’t want to ask you about the usual stuff, so feel free to answer if you feel up to.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Why did you start playing?
JOE QUEER: I used to play trumpet in a band and I played guitar in high school you know I started playing guitar, so then we got into the Ramones after high school and then we heard like bands like the Meatman we were kind of inspired by them like shirtwear You know, We can do this too we loved the Meatman and all that stuff so really we wouldn’t do too much so we had nothing else to do so we started a band so…nothing else was going on
MARCOTHEFLOWER: So, can you actually play the trumpet?
JOE QUEER: I played trumpet for 14 years.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Can you still play it?
JOE QUEER: I haven’t played it for a long time, I could if I wanted to, I could if I practise
MARCOTHEFLOWER: In a recent interview you claimed you don’t feel as if you are a punk legend. But you’re Joe Queer! Your style and the way you make music are always recognizable and through time they’ve never changed.. You keep on doing what you love with “success”, your audience has been following you for 30 years and as you step on the stage everybody freaks out. What lead you to where you are today? Luck? Chance? Or something else?
JOE QUEER: Probably all of the above. You know, you gotta have talent but you got to stay with it too I think some bands can be bigger than they are you gotta have like Ben Weasel, me we are like the leaders of the bands so we keep going you need luck you need perseverance keep going you’ve got to put up with a lot of bullshit with different musicians and people complaining cause you know it’s hard when you don’t make a ton of money to keep the band together so for once I got rid of Hue and B face they left it’s almost like a solo thing anyway so I play with different guys.
I like playing with different people these guys have been with me for a couple of years now so it’s going great so but you gotta keep going but you need talent but you need some luck too we were lucky because we had songs from Grow up we were playing before we got on Lookout records and then I met her at the rat, I’ll be true to you, Love, love,love we had those songs before we went on Loookout records so we were kinda of lucky Green Day we were lucky then so yeah but a lot of these bands some people put you down and, but they think the only reason they’re not as big as the Queers and Screeching weasel is just cause we are lucky and like we are lucky but you got to have talent like Ben Weasel you know My brain hurts, Anthem for a new tomorrow or The Queers we did Love songs for the retarded or Don’t back down, they were good albums , I think there ins’t a lot of pop punk bands on it, I see some bands, I do but I don’t really see too many bands that excite me is back then when you had Green day, you had the Muffs you had Mtx you had Screeching weasel you had the Queers High five Smugglers and they were really really really good fucking great bands so I mean unfortunately I’m older so I judge everything compared to when I was there you know like the Muffs, and Screeching weasel and Green day’s Dookie but anyway you gotta stay with it you need some luck for sure.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Apart from a few gigs last summer, we have been waiting for you to play in Italy for a long time. You always play around the world and your tours are terribly long, but what do you like doing when you’re at home?
JOE QUEER: I’ve got a studio, that’s what I’ve been doing lately. A lot of times I just take it easy and I don’t do too much I’ve got four chickens and you know drinking caffè at home and you know… I read a lot, I don’t do too much, I play my guitar and stuff yeah!
MARCOTHEFLOWER: It’s been years since The Queers are basically Joe Queer: and whoever’s gonna step up onto the stage with you and we know it’s going to be great! It’s r’n’roll! Now your audience identifies you this way and it seems to be ok, but hasn’t it ever been tough to be this kinda of one-man-band?
JOE QUEER: No, not really I enjoy having different people cause usually when people leave they get burnt out so you don’t want them sticking around cause they drag you down Dave , Dangerous Dave and Lurch they were with me for a long time and I realized after they left they were kinda of just going through the paces we were getting a little stale so we got some new guys here more hungry and so I just like it and it’s fun everybody plays something different you know they bring different stuff to the songs it’s kinda of fun I enjoy it I really do at first people would complain but you know whatever as long as the band sounds great I mean you know look at bands like Electric light orchestra they’ve got a million and one fuckin members and they’re great every time they go on stage so whatever as long as the music sounds good same as the Screeching weasel if Ben Weasel goes on stage with you know my grandmother in a fucking grass skirt and a ukulele if it’ s Ben Weasel singing Screeching weasel songs you know My Brain Hurts Screeching Weasel I don’t care you know in my book.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: John Lydon (Sex Pistols) commented on Keith Flint’s (The Prodigy) death this way: “No-one loved him. He was left alone and he was destroyed by being alone”. The point is: how decisive are the relationships you’ve got in your life to support you in your routine and in your lifestyle that I would define “living to play music”? – a very tough choice a lot of people, often those closest, don’t understand.
JOE QUEER: I mean, I’m like, a musician you know I’ll play till I die you know it always kills me like I mean I love music but I’ve got other interests too but it always kills me like I see these guys Let’s say B- face you know my old bass player he just played with us one gig last summer he did great he didn’t skip a beat it was like old time but he was so into it and then I always ask him to come back B-face come on play with us and Screeching weasel come on back man! Play just to do a week-end you don’t have to tour I understand he doesn’t wanna tour and he doesn’t do it and I don’t know how you are into the scene so much and you just go away and you are not part of it anymore like to me it’s like my life so I’ll always be playing and Dave, Dangerous Dave and Lurch I mean they’re losers, I mean I love those guys but they are fucking losers I mean come on man they were fucking contenders they were fucken on stage crowd cheering for them and then they go Dave’s a carpenter and Lurch delivers pizza I’m like, come on man what the fuck dude I mean you know Be serious I’m really disappointed I fucking thought I would have made a fucking stronger stuff but I guess not me I’ll always be playing, my friends like Marky Ramone plays, CJ Ramone, Richie Ramone, Dusty Watson who drums with The Sonics , I met him with Dick Dale , you know he’s my age, he’ll always be playing, Joey always played he loved music, Joey Ramone, and they will always be playing all of us will always be playing you know I enjoy it it’s fun I like the energy of meeting people and you can’t put a price set on that you’ve got to travel around we’ve got friends everywhere and it’s a ball it’s great it’s a privilege I like doing it so it’s not a job for me.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: So you don’t get used to your everyday life…
JOE QUEER: Yeah I mean, you know my everyday life is just it’s all sending around music though, cause I’ve got my studio and you know bands that’s what I like about music is there’s always something to get out of bed in the morning for there’s another tour someone’s coming down someone’s coming in the studio there’s a guitar I’ve made or something’s going on you know I love that so I just like the energy.
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Tell us something about Ben Weasel: he produced two albums by The Queers, he’s mentioned in your songs and you were one of the few who took his side in the past. What do Ben Weasel and Joe Queer have in common? And what do The Queers and the Screeching Weasel have in common? Besides sharing the stage and the same musical approach we read that your sister and Ben Weasel are great friends. Would you tell us something about your relationship with Ben in the last years?
JOE QUEER: I’ve always been friends through thick and thin so you find out who your friends are when the chips are down so yeah when everybody attacked him for that stupid thing I mean personally I didn’t think it was that a big deal anyway fuck it you know I’ve seen chicks get hit at shows fuck man I’m 61 years old you don’t think I’ve seen fucking chicks get hit by fucking… this guy… and I won’t even mention the names cause it’s an old story a bunch of bullshit but you know bands, punk rock bands whatever and even if I did think he was wrong which I don’t my friends fuck up but that doesn’t mean I’m not be their friend.
I will be their friend when I got fucked up on drugs Ben was always my friend. He was disappointed but he was always my friend and so you know I really lost a lot of respect for a lot of these people I kicked them to the curb I won’t name names but it was pretty lame, very very fucking lame and anyway so we are just friends actually I think he’s gonna come down to produce the new album; he wants to produce our new album at my place yeah so we’ve just talked about that so I think it will be fun we haven’t worked together in a while so it’s like fuck let’s do it! Yeah! I think it will be pretty fun we’ve got some goods songs and ideas so I think it will be interesting so…
MARCOTHEFLOWER: What have been the darkest and toughest moments of your life so far?
JOE QUEER: Probably when I was on drugs years ago you know whatever you know I’ve always looked up to Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Dee Dee Ramone so I used to think you know with heroes like that you know it’s like uhh… you know I wanna be like them I didn’t know you know it takes years you gotta take your bombs and bruises and figure out what’s going on with life but you know whatever I’ve made it through so yeah yeah I mean I won’t complain you know I’ve got a pretty cushy compared to… you know I’ve got a nice house in Atlanta with the studio and you know stuff I dreamt about doing this is what I wanted to do in high school was playing in a band and travel around I used to dream to come to Italy I don’t know why I would always go: I wanna go and see the Colosseum! This is crazy dream I had!
MARCOTHEFLOWER: And now that you saw it?
JOE QUEER: Yeah! Yeah I mean you know I thought it was like wow I did it! Wow I’ve made it! But it was stuff like this so you know it’s fun so…
MARCOTHEFLOWER: What makes you so determined in what you do? For sure, it’s not about the money, success, fame… The point is: why at the age of 61 do you keep on going in the way that you have been going? The world is full of people that sooner or later give up doing what they love for a reason or another. Why are you different from them? What do you wanna tell us? Do you want to prove something?
JOE QUEER: I see people my age you know a lot of them earn good money and good jobs and all that stuff and they don’t even look happy, you know: I wanted to go on tour when I was young and could fuck chicks I mean I don’t wanna go… work all my life I didn’t wanna work all my life and then go on vacation I’m 65 years old with my prune dog ass you know wife’s pruned old ass at a time…I wanna like go out and smell the fucking flowers when I was young you know so that’s what I did but you know there’s plenty of time to sit in the couch later so you know I’m like still healthy so I don’t give a fuck you know I mean there are people my age that used to look like shit I don’t know if I look raped but I got sick a couple of years ago too but you know it’s pretty healthy you know to keep doing this but the other thing is like I say getting to go around and meet you guys and see people all over the world we’re going to Russia, and you know Japan and wherever and it’s like oh fuck it’s great! You know I walked in here and I saw three or four people I know and it was like: fuck hey, what’s up man? so it is pretty good! I think you know I like playing and I just wanna keep playing and there’s plenty of time later I can sit in the couch and watch fucking tv I don’t watch tv so I don’t know. I always do something man, but anyway that’s what keeps me going yeah yeah.
I know one thing I would say: it was that towards the end of Joey Ramone’s life I used to talk to him a lot on the phone, he would call me on the phone and gradually after I talked to him you know at first I was like: my God this is Joey Ramone he called me! and I realized he was sick with cancer I knew but I realized he was just so into music and this is after he had done so much incredible stuff! And it wasn’t about how much money he had or you know gigs or how many people showed up! he was just so excited about another good song and that’s what got him out of bed in the morning and I was really impressed with that so I’ve always liked that spirit I wanted to be like that, you know it was like he always just loved music talking about songs and seeing bands… He was great man! We didn’t talk about death at all but he talked about you know music I was pretty impressed with him. My friend also, my friend Jordan – long story I won’t go in the all thing – she went up with a guy that was in a band and anyway knew Keith Richards and so they were living in New York city this is a few years ago and Keith Richards came to their house and partied one week-end and they were all fucked up snort drugs this is like 20 years ago but and I said how is Keith Richards like? and she said you know same thing with Joey: he was so excited about music they were playing guitar and playing records and bla bla…. you know and it was funny and you know but everything he was so excited about music and that’s how Joey strucked: me he was so excited about music and I thought fuck! That’s how I wanna be like, you know, and so I was really impressed with the fact that he was still so into it and just loved it. For what he did give me you know he was proud of the band and yeah it was pretty cool get to meet him and see…
I remember being on the street one time walking, we had a show in New York City, we were playing and were walking I don’t know why but we were walking from one club down to another. Some drunk people told us: Joey, would you fucking sign this? I was like, wait, you know, I was like I don’t know, I probably would have told these guys to fuck off! and I said to Joey and I was like: Geez, how do you put up with it? and he said: It’s not a job for me, man it’s not a job! He loved it, he loved all that you know: he was pretty down on earth and I mean I meet a lot of these guys of these shitty fucking bands from the West coast that are supposed to be punk and all that shit and they are arrogant assholes: they go on tour and they are big babies and bitch and moaning act like they are doing you a favor to do interviews and shit like this... and you know and then I met Joey, and Joey and all the the Ramones: CJ, Ritchie, Marky too… none of them ever had attitudes at ,all none of them. Johnny they couldn’t be bothering with that shit and that’s happen to be how they changed the world not just music, so the Ramones so they changed the world! I think you know and I’m like man if they can be cool then I can be cool you know it’s not about being arrogant and all that stuff I just appreciate what I’ve got so you know that keeps me going I think you know... well a lot of these guys act like they are doing you a favor to go on stage and sing their fucking crappy songs and most of them have one or two good songs if that you know you need to get down to it so I don’t know… What band is this playing?
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Gli Impossibili
JOE QUEER: They have been playing for a long time, ha?
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Yes, but they are almost done
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Do you believe we can still talk about an authentic and genuine “punk thought” or “punk lifestyle”? – where with punk I mean freedom. To be more specific, what goes under the name of politically correct really seems to have taken over and to this is associated a sort of puritanism that would like to clear what politically correct is not. In fact, it really seems that nowadays kidding on some topics is not allowed anymore by the conventional thinking. In conclusion, if today a band should decide to call themselves The Queers, I really can’t imagine what mess would come out!
JOE QUEER: Oh, it’s fucking ridicolous! Same thing when we did Love songs for the retarded people would complain it’s like punk rock the thing was that everybody got their point across through humor Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Black flag, you know there was Meatman they all got their point across through humor and Ramones they were goofing on themselves and now exists this stupid pc and assholes giving a shit and try to say we are racist or something you know it’s like give us a fucking break dude! We were fighting nazis 25 years ago and then they call me a nazi and I’m like oh you don’t fucking… never mind you know that’s why we wrote You’re tripping but it’s a bunch of bullshit I just kinda of avoided it and just you need thick skin and it’s ridicolous cause a lot of people are scared of it but I don’t care I don’t give a fuck I really don’t give a fuck fuck them I think they are a bunch of jerks and they are not offended at all look at the tv, television, what’s on tv now, or movies or videogames and you’re telling me you are offended by someone that says kinda of… Fuck you you know I mean come on I’ve been called the “enward”, I’ve been called fucking kinda of… I’ve been called every name in a book it doesn’t bother me, fuck it! I don’t care what people think about me I don’t care what they call me fucking words hey geez it’s free speech I don’t agree with some... you know I don’t call people you know certain words but it’s like whatever it’s free speech, is free speech it’s fucking bullshit with…you know you can’t say kinda of some bullshit it’s like oh shut up, so that’s my attitude I think it’s bullshit
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Shakespeare wrote: “And every fair from fair sometime declines”. What kind of relationship have you got with time passing by? Personally, time kicks my ass. I mean, I can clearly feel time passing by and this sucks. In other words: what do you think is the secret to stay forever young?
JOE QUEER: Play music I guess! Play music, yeah keeps you young! Yeah! That’s it!
MARCOTHEFLOWER: Grazie Joe!
JOE QUEER: Grazie ragazzi