Luckily for The Ramones fans, one of the best, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!, is from the San Diego area.
Named for the Ramone’s signature chant and, like the Ramones, taking a unified family surname, the band started in 2008 with the current lineup of vocalist Alan Ho, guitarist T.J. Ho, drummer Chris Ho and bassist Dee Bee Ho, together since 2011.
According to bassist Dee Bee Ho, the reason for forming the band was simply to champion its musical heroes’ music.
“We're all huge fans of The Ramones,” he said. “They were such a fun band. They weren't in it for commercial success. They weren't trying to change the world. They were having fun. They were expressing themselves. They were saying, ‘Hey look, you don't have to be amazingly talented to express yourself through music.’ We wanted to do our part to make sure the Ramones were never forgotten.”
The quartet does its best re-create both the look and the sound of the group they are honoring.
“I feel the guys do a great job looking the part,” Ho said. “I have a little more difficult of a time looking the part of Dee Dee Ramone. He was a little smaller than me. Basically, it's just a T-shirt and tore-up jeans with a leather jackets and some Chucks.”
While the look isn’t too difficult to achieve, the band puts a lot of effort into getting its sound just right.
“It was important to use the same instruments as The Ramones,” Ho said. “I think mostly for the guitar. Johnny Ramone had such a unique, raw and powerful sound. Our guitar player Tim does have pretty much the same setup as Johnny. Tim does a great job with playing all downstroke. It's very tiring to play downstrokes that fast for a long period of time.”
Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! tries to give an accurate depiction of a typical Ramones concert back in the day, with a major exception.
“The Ramones were famous for playing 20-minute sets. Clubs today wouldn't appreciate that,” Ho said. “The songs are short and sweet, just like songs should be. We play sets ranging from 45 minutes to playing three one-hour sets. In true Ramones fashion, we don't spend a lot of time talking on stage. We like to go from one song to the next.”
The band plays all of The Ramones’ best-known songs, from “Blitzkreig Bop” to “I Wanna Be Sedated.” but also tries to include a lot of less-obvious choices.
“We go pretty deep into the catalog,” Ho said. “We all have our different favorites. I think some of The Ramones’ best songs are ones you don't hear on the radio, (like) “I Believe in Miracles” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”
It’s been five years since Hey! Ho! Lets Go! First hit the club circuit, but according to Ho, the band members all still enjoy The Ramones’ music as much as ever. He considers the band ambassadors of sorts for the original punk rockers.
“The best part to me is introducing The Ramones to people who may not know much about them,” he said. “And for people who are already Ramones fans, we give them an opportunity to relive the past and enjoy the music and the band that influenced so many of the biggest bands in the world.”
Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! performs at 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at Winston’s, 1921 Bacon St. www.winstonsob.com