11 September 2021

National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Ramones Maniacs

Two decades later, I'm like some New York pizza place, trying to convince everyone that my Ramones Maniacs is the World-Famous Original Ramones Maniacs.  Sure, I invented covering Ramones songs, the same way that one of those guys named Ray discovered putting pasta ingredients on flattened dough.
It should go without saying that the first and biggest heap of credit goes to the legendary Ramones, without whom this tribute would not even exist.  For additional inspiration, the Clearview Records label gets a nod as well.  Clearview released a series of classic Ramones albums re-recorded in their entirety by a new generation of punk bands such as The Queers, Parasites, The Vindictives, Screeching Weasel and more.  Based on this concept, I was spitballing with the Frantics about redoing the Halfway To Sanity album, singer Kevin Mac's favorite Ramones record;  it's my favorite '80s release by the Ramones, and the Frantics were putting out my favorite records during the second half of the '90s.
Eventually, that idea morphed into getting ten bands to each record three songs from the 30-track greatest hits collection, RAMONESMANIA.  The blueprint stage was late 1998 to early 1999, with release ambitiously planned for the end of summer '99.  Around this time, the projected line-up included Frantics, The Pull-Outs, Cletus, Sister Raisin, Laughing Boys, Santa's Dead, Love Camp 7 and The Vapids, all of whom appeared on previous tREND iS dEAD! records.  The songs would've been divided so that each band would tackle the MANIA tracks from a specific Ramones album (approximately).
As I reached out to other bands to fill the remaining slots, it became apparent that there would be enough interested parties to cut it down to only one or two songs per band, which was a little less of a burden for most of the groups involved.  While more bands were joining the fold, a few of the original bands had started to fold.  Sister Raisin was essentially a college band that graduated and left town before the ball even got rolling on the tribute.  Laughing Boys allegedly broke up instead of recording their tracks.  The Pull-Outs made a demo for "I Just Want To Have Something To Do" (along with some original material), then never played together again.  Frantics were effectively over, but still fulfilled their obligation of both songs from Halfway To Sanity.
With some of the songs recorded and most of the songs spoken for, a situation would arise where there were only one or two songs still up for grabs.  That's when I'd approach someone that said they loved the Ramones and totally wanted to be involved in the tribute….but didn't want to learn/play/record THAT particular Ramones song.  As bands dropped in and out of the project, the remaining song or two changed, but "Pinhead" was a bit problematic throughout, as were the two songs that the Ramones covered for the original MANIA ("Indian Giver," originally by 1910 Fruitgum Company, and "Needles and Pins," first recorded by Jackie DeShannon).  I don't know what the issue was with "Pinhead," but the prospect of basically doing a cover version of a cover song wasn't very appealing to some people - particularly the two not-very-Ramonesy cover songs from MANIA (why not "California Sun" or "Let's Dance" or "Surfin' Bird" instead?).
At this point, the idea was floated (by more than one person) of either replacing the cover songs with two Ramones originals from albums released after MANIA (potentially "She Talks To Rainbows," "I Believe In Miracles," "Poison Heart" or "Pet Sematary"), or adding some of those later songs as bonus tracks.  One of the covers was already finished being re-covered, so it didn't make sense to replace just the other one that had yet to be recorded.  I wasn't opposed to expanding MANIA with the bonus tracks, in an attempt to make it more comprehensive of the Ramones' entire career/discography, but I wasn't willing to go down that road until all of the required tracks were actually finished.  By the time I had the last recording in my hands, it had been two years too long to delay for any additional songs (or any reason).  Several of the bands were no longer active, and the ones that still were had seen this thing drag on so long that they thought it would never really happen.
Ramones Maniacs went on sale September 11, 2001.  The tribute was issued with the blessing of Dee Dee Ramone and Joey Ramone;  they both passed away in less than a year on either side of the release date.  Johnny Ramone died a couple of years after Dee Dee, while Tommy Ramone managed to hang in for another decade after that.  As is sometimes the case, the Ramones legacy looms larger in death than it did in life, with more commercial appeal and acceptance now than they received during a lengthy career of cult worship.  The world is a lesser place without the founding members of one of the greatest bands of all time, but fortunate for the many brief blasts of music that the Ramones bequeathed to all of us. 
Marky Ramone, Richie Ramone and C.J. Ramone are all still known to bust out the classics.
"I Wanna Live" and "Bop 'Til You Drop"
The entire Ramones Maniacs project may have started with the Frantics, but these ended up being their last studio recordings.  Like a lot of the groups on this compilation, the Frantics broke up before the tribute album finally hit the streets.  Under the original "10 bands, 3 songs each" format, the Frantics' third song would have been "Indian Giver" (bonus track from European copies of Halfway To Sanity, and B-side to that album's "Real Cool Time" single).
"Indian Giver"
This was the first of those "last" songs to check off the list.  One of the "covers of a cover," I'm fairly sure that The Grand Prixx really, really did not want to play "Indian Giver."  By the time I got ahold of them, it was a "this-or-nothing" deal.  Every month or so, I'd call to ask, "Hey, did you finish recording that Ramones song that isn't really a Ramones song yet?"  And every couple months, they'd say, "No, our singer is still away at college…have any real Ramones songs become available that we could trade for?"  With other bands breaking up or flaking out, I had almost written off the Prixx, too.  But, they were die-hard Ramonescore punks, and they delivered.  A week or maybe a month later, I was equally surprised when "Beat on the Brat" became available again, but Matty Luv (then of Yogurt, formerly of Hickey/FuckBoyz) said he'd actually prefer "Indian Giver."  If multiverse theory is correct, there's an alternate reality where The Grand Prixx had a lot more fun doing "Beat on the Brat," but Yogurt had just as much fun jamming out "Indian Giver."
"Beat On The Brat"
The Naked Cult of Hickey officially came to an end in 1999, only to be reincarnated almost immediately as Yogurt.  Yogurt had been a long-running recording project by Matty and Aesop (and friends) while they were in Hickey (possibly even dating back to their previous group, the equally notorious Fuck Boyz).  When the final line-up of Hickey called it a day, Matty and Aesop brought back their first bass player from Hickey (and Schleprock) for Yogurt's new recordings and live performances.  And a Naked Cult by any other name still sounds just as sweet.  Matty's first choice for Ramones Maniacs was "We Want The Airwaves," followed by "Indian Giver."  Since both of those songs were already in the can, Yogurt settled on "Beat on the Brat" and turned it into one of the noisemakers' noisiest noisefests.
"Blitzkrieg Bop"
Youth Gone Mad was the first group I contacted outside of the label's usual stable of talent, but I had been selling YGM 7"es and CDs through the tREND iS dEAD! mailorder for a few years.  They recorded a great song with Joey Ramone, titled "Meatball Sandwich."  YGM already recorded a Ramones tune ("Loudmouth," released in 1991 on a split 7" and their West/East CD), so I figured they might be game to do one from MANIA.  Around the turn of the century, Paul from Youth Gone Mad was in the process of painting and recording with Mr. Dee Dee Ramone himself, so they thought it'd be funny to insert Dee Dee into a tribute to his own band.  Paul's punk rock rolodex and home studio were also integral to the assembly of Ramones Maniacs.  The year after Maniacs, tREND iS dEAD! records released Youth Gone Mad featuring Dee Dee Ramone on picture vinyl LP.  
"Animal Boy"
Jeff Wilson from central Illinois hardcore outfit Naked Hippy was also THE local music guy at one of my local record stores.  Jeff was an immense aid to my label over the years, not only by selling tREND iS dEAD! releases in the shop, but by assisting with booking and distribution.  He also worked on a Ramones fanzine back in the day.  When I started running into problems finishing up Ramones Maniacs, Jeff was a nice go-to option.  Naked Hippy covered a few Ramones songs in their time, including "Animal Boy" - but neither a live recording nor a practice tape of the song were considered high enough sound quality for release, in addition to being about a decade old at that point.  Nevertheless, Naked Hippy's "Animal Boy" cassette was held in reserve, in the event that I couldn't find a current artist to record the song.  Hammerbrain wound up being an active group that was willing to do "Animal Boy."  In addition to being a founding member of Youth Gone Mad and White Zombie, Paul Kostabi has been in too many other bands to count….but one of them is Hammerbrain.
"Mama's Boy"
Another Ramones song that ended with the word "Boy," which also started out being assigned to another local band with a member that worked at another local record store, and was also finished off by another Paul Kostabi connection.  Jared Alcorn worked at the other music shop in town, as well as being a member of local groups Naginata (with The Fast Brothers from Straight Legged Kick) and 100 Martyrs Of Democracy (with the kids from T.R./End Me).  Like Jeff from Naked Hippy, Jared also helped my label with sales and booking, and tried to get one of his bands to record "Mama's Boy" when asked.  Neither group ever gained any traction in the recording process, nor did Straight Legged Kick, who also laid claim to the song for a brief period.  Out of the blue, I received an email from a guy claiming to be a member of Third Eye Blind, who said he was interested in recording a song for the Ramones comp as a solo project.  3EB was a multi-platinum major label band with a couple of hit singles, so I thought the email was someone playing a practical joke on me and I almost didn't respond.  It turned out to actually be Third Eye Blind's bass player, Arion, who heard about Ramones Maniacs through Paul from Youth Gone Mad.  Arion called himself "Yanni Rotten" and absolutely romped on "Mama's Boy." 
"Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?"
I got really into Bracket when their 4-Wheel Vibe LP was released by Caroline Records in 1995.  I continued to follow the band through all of their Fat Wreck Chords releases, so it felt like a starstruck accomplishment to have Bracket sign on for Ramones Maniacs.  Bracket's track is hands down the best quality recording on this collection, engineered at Prairie Sun by Ralph Patlan (who went on to remix Megadeth reissues).  "Rock 'n' Roll Radio" is also the lead-off song on Best Of Würst, a retrospective of Bracket outtakes, cover songs and B-sides. 
"The KKK Took My Baby Away"
To be honest, I did have to be concerned about who would want to do this song, because there are those people out there who like things for the wrong reason.  Fortunately, I think that the dude who wrote the song "Fuck Racism (I Did)" was a perfect fit to sing "The KKK Took My Baby Away."  In addition to "Fuck Racism," the Loose Change CD Fire It Up also contains two rad '80s cover songs ("Your Love" and "Crash") and a totally hilarious prank call easter egg. 
"I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"
An obvious choice, The Vapids are pretty much Canada's Ramones fan club.  Ramones songs were a staple of Vapids live shows.  Before Maniacs, The Vapids had already self-released a cassette of their cover of the second Ramones album (Leave Home).  Their re-recordings of "Chainsaw" and "Judy Is  A Punk" from the first Ramones LP appeared on an Italian CD in 1999.  "All The Way" and "Cretin Hop" are included as bonus tracks on Black Therapy.  The Vapids later provided the original composition "Dee Dee, King Of Rock" for Main Main - A Tribute To Dee Dee Ramone, on top of the two songs they already published in honor of other individual members of the Ramones:  "Johnny Ramone" on their Drink Beer album (1997), and "Tommy Ramone" from Charm School Dropouts (2001).  In addition to "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," The Vapids also recorded "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)" for Ramones Maniacs, but the latter was cut in order to allow room for Blanks 77.  The year 2020 found The Vapids on the receiving end of their own tribute album, These Kids Are Sick - A Tribute To The Vapids on I Buy Records.
"Bonzo Goes To Bitburg"
Blanks 77 entered the proceedings rather late in the process.  They were on the verge of breaking up, and all of the songs from MANIA had already been claimed, most were already finished.  Blanks had released a cover of "Blitzkrieg Bop" a few years earlier, but Youth Gone Mad already submitted "Blitzkrieg Bop" for Maniacs by then, and I wasn't going to kick off any band in favor of another.  So, Blanks 77 were allowed to pick a song from one of the early bands that still had two songs on the tribute.  Blanks swiped "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" from The Vapids, and recorded it during a session of cover songs that also included "Anarchy in the U.K." (Sex Pistols) and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana).  This documentation of tribute songs was planned as the band's final effort, but the classic line-up of Blanks 77 reunited a few years later and continue to perform together.
"Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment" and "Wart Hog"
Hailing from New Jersey, Santa's Dead contributed material to both of the previous tREND iS dEAD! compilation CDs, and they were part of the initial core of Ramones Maniacs.  Dave, the writer/singer from Santa's Dead, also had his own label (Reinforcement Records), and his networking helped fill out the roster for Maniacs.  Friends and fellow Jersey natives Mohawk Barbie would have appeared this tribute, if they hadn't already already split up.  So, it was a special treat for T.I.D. Records and N.J. pop punk archivists to have Barbie bassist Stein join the Santa's Dead line-up for these recordings.
Naked Hippy Jeff was in a handful of other local bands, including the Resinators, who were also known to partake in the occasional homage to the Ramones.  When Jeff was searching through the Naked Hippy tapes for "Animal Boy," he was also trying to find a performance of "Commando" by the Resinators;  over twenty years later, he's still having trouble locating it.  The Young Hasselhoffs were introduced by Dave from Santa's Dead, who released their sophomore CD, Get Dumped, on his Reinforcement imprint.  The first album by The 'Hoffs included a song titled "Not Ugly Enough To Be A Ramone."
"Needles & Pins"
The Commercials were founded in Pennsylvania circa 1996, another addition courtesy of Reinforcement Records.  The Commercials appeared alongside Santa's Dead, The Vapids and The Young Hasselhoffs on Reinforcement's Better Than Sevens split CD, and contributed a couple more tracks for other comps issued by the label.  "Needles & Pins" was the second of two "covers of cover songs" from MANIA, but The Commercials certainly made the song their own.
"Howling At The Moon (Sha-La-La)"
From Quakertown, PA, Politically Erect was one of at least two active punk bands using the same name at that same time.  The other Politically Erect was based in Utah.  Besides sharing a moniker, both groups were independently operating out of geographic locations known for old-timey religions.  Starting an obnoxious punk band seems like a natural reaction to being surrounded by moral repression.  The Penn state branch of Politically Erect formed in 1996.  While their name lets you know right up front that you can expect immaturity and offensiveness, Politically Erect was deceptively catchy, evidenced in a small discography of pop punk CDs, tapes and 7"es, including the version of "Howling At The Moon" they recorded for Ramones Maniacs.
"Somebody Put Something In My Drink" and "We Want The Airwaves"
Spazboy was not part of the original ten band roster for Ramones Maniacs, but they were the last group to record more than one song for the tribute.  Spazboy laid down their tracks in a garage, on an 8-channel cassette recorder, if I remember correctly.  They were apprehensive about the sound, but I liked it enough to offer to put out an entire album of Spazboy self-recordings, if they could produce the same results again.  In 1998, Spazboy included a cover of "I Wanna Be Sedated" at the end of their second full-length, Twilight Area.
"Psycho Therapy"  
A Ramones tribute band from New York named Psychotherapy also deserves credit as an impetus for this label's Ramones tribute.  I tried to get them to provide an original song for an earlier comp, and jokingly replied that I'd get back to them when it was time to do a Ramones cover album.  Psychotherapy would've recorded the song they named themselves after.  Instead, "Psycho Therapy" was performed (with toy siren a-blazin') by Napkin from San Diego, brought on board through their affiliation with Spazboy. 
"Chinese Rock"
Chicago's Laughing Boys were scheduled to record "Chinese Rock" and "I Wanna Be Sedated," but called it quits over the matter, or so the story goes.  Whatever went down, singer and bass player Kev Laughin' didn't wander too far to put together a new band for the project, literally walking across the hall from the Laughing Boys' practice pad to recruit drummer Ronny from Yer Mother's Lovers.  Green 11's took two separate runs at the Ramones material, both attempts recorded live on reel-to-reel tape in the basement of John Hachtel (audio supervisor from Blue Man Group), who also filled in on guitar.  The contact info for Green 11's that was listed in the Ramones Maniacs CD booklet was an email address belonging to Kevin's son, who grew up to be Saskrotch, but also served as the drummer for Green 11's during the aborted first session with Hachtel.  If that version hadn't been scrapped, it would've been one of Saskrotch's earliest releases (but not his first, with an indie label and a couple of homemade pressings already under his belt).  Green 11's did record "I Wanna Be Sedated" at the same time as "Chinese Rock," but due to a DAT error, "Sedated" wasn't "unlocked" until several years after the fact.
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
I never cared for The Offspring, but I came across a snippet of them performing "Sedated" as the band at a school dance in some movie that was playing while I was working at a video store.  From what I heard, it was a solid version, the most enjoyable Offspring performance I'd listened to.  So, I tried messaging them through their website, as well as their Nitro and Epitaph labels.  It probably didn't help that I mentioned not being a fan, even though I liked the song.  It's also possible that they had already been inked to the major label Ramones tribute that Johnny Ramone helped put together, released a couple years after Maniacs.  Either way, I never heard back from The Offspring, and it ended up being another group of Californians, Tiltwheel, who kicked off Ramones Maniacs with fantastic drunk punk flair.  I'm sure The Offspring lose a lotta sleep over it. 
"Hey ho, let's drink!" - Davey Ramone (Quinn), Tiltwheel
"Teenage Lobotomy" and "Outsider"
I was introduced to Cletus via C.3.P.O. (Chris' Three Piece Orchestra), a sci-fi pop punk trio of guys who were all named Chris.  One of the Chrises had a brother that played guitar in Cletus, and the same Chris ended up playing bass for Cletus.  C3PO had a song on the first national tREND iS dEAD! tape, and they would've been on this Ramones tribute had they not already parted ways.  Cletus appeared on a couple of earlier tREND iS dEAD! releases, and they were slated to do a split 7" with the Frantics, titled Carolina Über Alles.  Instead, the recording budget for Cletus' side of the split was used for their Ramones covers, and the Frantics split became Cornered, with Cletus replaced by Black Left Pinky.
[Unlike The Offspring, I was a pretty big Green Day fan.  I reached out to Green Day via email about including their version of "Outsider" that had been recently released as a B-side.  Like The Offspring, I never received a reply from Green Day, as they both appeared on the same major label Ramones tribute a few years later.  I'll bet Green Day are real bummed about it, too.]
"I Just Wanna Have Something To Do"
Tim Bradstreet's artwork on the Black Left Pinky side of the Cornered split 7" was intended to be the front cover for Ramones Maniacs.  The final front cover ended up being a different Bradstreet design, swapped because Maniacs was printed entirely in black & white.  "I Just Want To Have Something To Do" was initially recorded by The Pull-Outs, at the same time as their Remnants of the Hamster demo.  Black Left Pinky's rendition owes about as much to The Pull-Outs' arrangement as it does the Ramones' original.  The Black Left Pinky version was recorded during the session for their Hat Trick EP, which was given away with pre-ordered copies of the Maniacs CD.
"Rock 'n' Roll High School"
The Vice Dolls were always a blast to do shows with, even though their revolving cast of characters seemed to change every time.  They also sounded better with each incarnation, which is the direction you should be moving if you're replacing people.  The Vice Dolls hosted a couple of their Maniacs compadres (Black Left Pinky and fallen Star) at a basement show in the summer of 2002, which was the closest thing to a release party for Ramones Maniacs (although it was almost more of a reunion at that point, as measured in punk time, which moves even faster than dog years).
"We're A Happy Family"
fallen Star came recommended by The Vice Dolls.  Both bands were from Danville, Illinois - too far east to be considered part of my central IL local scene, too far south to be lumped in with the "Chicago area."  fallen Star was probably the nicest bunch of kids playing music that you'd ever have the pleasure to meet.  That might not sound very "punk" at first, but when you're borrowing their gear before a show or eating at their cookout between sets or crashing at their place afterwards, you'd sure appreciate their kindness.  fallen Star played their final show in the summer of 2003, after their guitar player joined The Junior Varsity and their drummer joined the military.  
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"
When you run a record label, even an obscure one, you get a lot of unsolicited demos.  Some are worth a laugh, but most are just terrible.  Australian citizens Love Camp 7 sent me the only unsolicited demo I liked enough to move forward on.  I sent them a few American dollars for studio time, which translated into a decent wad of Aussie dough, based on the exchange rate of the day.  A few months later, I received a CD-R with a dozen songs (including "Sheena"), material that was planned as their first full-length, tentatively titled Smell The Glove.  Love Camp 7's debut album was penciled in as the release after Ramones Maniacs, but by the time Maniacs came out, the running theme struck again:  Love Camp 7 was a past tense entity.  The LC7 album had been released in Australia back in 1999, augmented to 16 tracks and re-titled Clean 'Em All.  It is long out of print, but worth tracking down, especially since the tREND iS dEAD! domestic edition was a CD-R with 4 fewer songs, and limited enough that I know every single person that owns a copy. 
"Cretin Hop"
Courtney Ono was a local (central IL) college band.  It was one of those bands that had more name changes than songs.  They started out as Grimy, and ended by releasing a track on Reinforcement's 52 Lessons On Life double-CD under the alias Make It Like A Robot.  The recording for "Cretin Hop" took place during their first trip to a real studio, and Courtney Ono wrapped it up in less than five minutes (two takes), using the rest of the booking to record three originals for The Worst Intentions demo. 
"Rockaway Beach"
Florida's Dead End Kids ably mixed modern D.I.Y. punk with an affinity for the classic '77-style.  They had a respectable catalog of underground tapes, records and CDs to their name, many released through their own Skanking Skull Records.  Skanking Skull was also home to the Garage Rats, who made an appearance on the first tREND iS dEAD! Compact Disc.  The Garage Rats pointed me in the direction of Dead End Kids when I came sniffin' around for more of the raw stuff.
The Ramones were a fairly on-the-nose outfit, so I felt like the band Pinhead Gunpowder was an ideal match to record the Ramones anthem that is "Pinhead."  I tried to contact them through the Cometbus mailing address and the Lookout Records email, but to no avail.  Luckily, the punk world also contained another cool group with "pinhead" in their name, Colorado's Pinhead Circus, who did get back to me…at first.  After confirming that they would record "Pinhead" when they went to the studio to make their next album, I never heard from Pinhead Circus again;  they were defunct within a year.  When I ran out of good Pinhead bands, I turned to Dave/Nikki from the Parasites, who touched bases with me on a Ramones message board after I posted a glowing review of the Parasites' re-recording of It's Alive on Clearview Records.  Since the Parasites' version wasn't actually a live concert performance, the plan was to remove the fake audience noise for re-release on Maniacs.  However, the master tape was (and still is) considered lost, so we talked about having Dave record a solo (possibly even acoustic) rendition of the song, but it never came together.  There were a handful of other long-forgotten groups that didn't pan out for "Pinhead" either.  Despite the delays, it all worked out for the best, since Furious George had more than paid their dues to earn a spot on a Ramones tribute, having previously collaborated with both Dee Dee and Joey, not to mention service in the official Ramones live crew.  Furious George's "Pinhead" was recorded by Paul from Youth Gone Mad;  Youth Gone Mad released a split 7" with singer "Furious" George Tabb's prior band, Letch Patrol;  Letch Patrol also counts Johnny Puke from Cletus among their alumni.  The Ramones may not have been a Happy Family in real life, but the Ramones Maniacs sure were an incestuous bunch.
* both of my former local record store clerks, Jared and Jeff, are now proprietors of their own respective record shops.  If you find yourself in Normal, Illinois, you can visit each of them at Waiting Room and North Street Records, just a short walk between one another.
The front and back artwork for the Ramones Maniacs CD was created by Timothy Bradstreet.  Tim is a local hero of an artist with unmistakable style.  Even when I was a kid, Tim was a not-much-older kid that was already a legend around these parts.  I started hearing about Bradstreet on the bus, then seeing some of his early sketches proudly and prominently displayed in friends' homes.  A signed Bradstreet print of The Hunger (from his famous Vampire works) was the first piece of art I ever purchased, on consignment at the county museum visited during a class trip.  When I approached him about Ramones Maniacs, Tim was doing freelance cover art for both of the big comic book companies (DC Comics' Hellblazer and Marvel's The Punisher).  In spite of his status, Tim was kind enough to provide his work for several tREND iS dEAD! releases.  By the time Maniacs was finished, Tim had already moved out of town and moved even further up in the art world, but still took the time to sign some copies of the CD for a contest giveaway.  Even if you aren't into comics, you've probably seen Tim Bradstreet's unique images on a movie poster, collectible card, t-shirt or another album cover. 

The front cover was repurposed from Tim Bradstreet's 1995 piece, Leather Jacket.  The "maniac's" coat was originally adorned with the Swans' band name, replaced by the Ramones Maniacs logo that Tim whipped up on the fly.
The tray card and the disc itself featured a previously unpublished photo of an electric chair by Bradstreet.  I remember Tim discussing the history of "riding the lightning" at length, an interest that seemed to develop while he was on the set of The Green Mile.  Fans of the Stephen King film will recognize the chair as "Old Sparky."

The first plan for the front cover was a simple recreation of the original RAMONESMANIA art, with memorabilia from the Maniacs bands in place of the collection of Ramones posters/flyers, records and promotional merchandise.  However, some of the groups on Maniacs didn't even have any other releases out yet, let alone any fancy mementos.  I decided to go in another direction for the cover art, but had already collected merch from about half of the bands on the comp.  I had to fake a few pieces to finish it, then used the collage for the inside of the CD booklet and on the cover of the super rare cassette edition. 

1.  Frantics It's Casual promotional poster:  What looks like a big button (or maybe a frisbee) is really the center circle from an 18" x 24" poster that was used to promote the Frantics' first full-length LP, released on limited edition 10" vinyl by tREND iS dEAD! records in 1998.
2.  Blanks 77 Killer Blanks LP:  This is my personal copy of the album, as were all of the other records and CDs pictured.  The first pressing of Killer Blanks was on picture vinyl, released in Germany.  My copy is the domestic edition, which included 3 extra songs.  
3.  Love Camp 7 business card:  LC7's Oddly Slightway EP was an option, since it was in the tREND iS dEAD! catalog and my personal collection.  But, hey, nobody else had a jokey business card. 
4.  Youth Gone Mad "Rotten" 7-inch record:  One of two Youth Gone Mad releases with cover art by Dee Dee Ramone, the other being the safety pin globe design on the front of Pollenate.   Both were carried in the tREND iS dEAD! catalog prior to Ramones Maniacs.  The following year's Youth Gone Mad featuring Dee Dee Ramone included artwork by Dee Dee and Youth Gone Mad frontman, Paul "Ena" Kostabi.
5.  Yogurt postcard:  Hand-drawn by Matty Luv, in a style familiar to Naked Cult devotees.  The full tagline underneath the Yogurt logo reads "LAME NAME, DECENT BAND, EVERYTHING BUT SKA…"
6.  Spazboy "Evil" sticker:  I owned a copy of the first Spazboy CD, Bladow! (1996).  However, I felt like there were already enough CDs in the collage, and not enough stickers.
7.  Bracket skateboard:  The positioning of the Spazboy sticker at the top of the skateboard might lead you to believe that the Bracket artwork was just another photoshop job, but the official Bracket skateboard was a real thing.  Caroline Records produced and gave away the limited edition boards to promote Bracket's then-current album.  Unfortunately for Bracket, only one deck found its way to the band, forcing all the members into a sidewalk surfin' timeshare.  For this reason, Bracket decided to not ship their rare memorabilia halfway across the continent to some guy they never met so he could take a picture for the cover of some punk comp that may or may not be a real thing, opting instead to send a slightly out-of-focus photograph of the skateboard.
8.  Green 11's rolling papers:  For those unfamiliar with the term, "green eleven" is slang for twin trails of slime leaking from the nostrils of some snot-nosed brat, giving the appearance of the number eleven in the form of green goo.  What does that have to do with a pack of skins?  Green, I guess.  
9.  Tiltwheel Hair-Brained Scheme Addicts CD:  Tiltwheel's second album, from 1999.  Issued on compact disc in the US and UK, and on limited clear vinyl from A.D.D. Records (who reissued the CD in 2008).
10.  Napkin three song single CD:  This was Napkin's latest release;  I believe it was also their last. 
11.  Cletus Protein Packed Tour 1998 t-shirt:  My shirt, that I still wear proudly.  The back of this short sleeve lists all the stops Cletus made during their early '98 tour (Feb 13- Mar 16), including a show in my hometown that my old band opened.  Cletus' set from that particular night would later receive limited release as part of the tREND iS LiVE! series. 
12.  fallen*Star keychain:  fallen Star had a bunch of handmade patches and buttons…but I couldn't find a single one when I was making the collage…so, I slapped a font on my old, ratty keychain.  My bad.
(my 1978 Pontiac Bonneville keys, too)
13.  The Vapids sticker - I had the option of using just about any release from The Vapids' backcatalog, since I not only owned, but also sold them through the tREND iS dEAD! mailorder.  I went with the sticker instead, based on some sort of "stickers are punk" logic.
14.  Politically Erect CD-R:  A problem with burned discs is that most of them crap out faster than "real" CDs.  My copy of the Politically Erect CD-R didn't last a decade….the new limited edition?  
15.  Hammerbrain Blanche CD:  Contains the song "Killer In Your Radio," which was also released in the same year by Youth Gone Mad with vocals by Madeline Folin, who was only a child at the time, but would go on to fame as the singer from Cults.  
16.  The Commercials panties:  Yes, they were real panties.  No, I never tried them on. 
17.  Yanni Rotten pic:  Yanni Rotten was a solo project started specifically for Ramones Maniacs, so there were no previous releases to use for the collage, let alone any kind of merchandise.  Maybe I could have used 3rd Eye Blind's self-titled album, since there are about 6 million of those (including one on my shelf).  The first photo version was signed with a fake "Yanni Rotten" autograph, but it wasn't legible when it was re-sized for the collage, so I typed out ROTTEN in a cheesy font and stamped it across Yanni's forehead.
18.  The Young Hasselhoffs promo display:  Comic book artwork on a cardboard cutout, The Hasselhoffs displayed this wherever they set up their merch table.  It would still be hanging on my wall today, if the band didn't make me give it back after it was scanned. 
19.  Santa's Dead website logo:  I found Santa's Dead online, so I thought it was fitting to use the CLICK TO ENTER pic from their old homepage.
20.  Black Left Pinky / Vice Dolls flyer:  Though the two bands did play together on other occasions, The Vice Dolls had to cancel at the last minute on this 1999 date at The Gallery in Normal, too late to make up new flyers for the gig.  The band name that was cropped out of the middle of the flyer by the Santa's Dead web logo belonged to Decimation, who ended up headlining The Gallery show in place of The Vice Dolls.  Additional stage time that night was filled on short notice by local bands Naginata [see "Mama's Boy," above] and Fifth Place.
21.  Dead End Kids street sign:  I almost got busted trying to spray paint "KiDS" on an actual Dead End sign, at which point I realized I was embarrassingly old to be running from cops on a petty vandalism charge.  This was another photoshop fake.
22.  Courtney Ono douche:  In retrospect, this obvious fake was probably featured a bit too prominently, in an attempt to ensure that absolutely no one could miss the word "Douche."  The whole thing was concocted by graphic design student and Courtney Ono guitarist, Chris, who also lent a hand with the layout for Ramones Maniacs and multiple other tREND iS dEAD! releases.  The stud in suds is Courtney Ono/Mayor Death drummer, Luke. 
23.  Loose Change Fire It Up! CD:  As mentioned in the write-up for "The KKK Took My Baby Away" [above], this 1998 disc had a secret track at the end, a crank phone call placed in response to a "Musician Wanted" ad.  I found it absolutely hysterical, and played it for every guest I hosted for about two years.
24.  Furious George Goes Ape 7-inch record:  I think the color vinyl is supposed to be banana yellow, but it might be orange creamsicle.  This EP opens with "Betty Crocker, Punk Rocker" (which features guest vocals by Dee Dee Ramone) and closes with "Gilligan" (which was re-recorded for Furious George Gets A Record, with guest vocals by Joey Ramone).
25.  The Grand Prixx "33 MPH" 7-inch record:  The Prixx had a friend record a message in a phone sex voice to end each side of this vinyl EP.  Side A finishes with "Turn me over, I'm not done yet," then "Ooh, that was great...I want more!" as the finale of the B-side.

Longtime tREND iS dEAD! followers probably noticed that I like to change up the company logo with each release.  The logo that was branded on Ramones Maniacs is usually confusedly described as "a sideways yin-yang with both dots on one side," but this is an homage to the Sire Records logo that appeared on many Ramones releases.  It's supposed to be an awkward and/or intoxicated smiley face, which can't help recall the classic Nirvana shirt.