By: Tyler Vile
I recently got an email from George Tabb asking if
he might be able to tell his story to Punk Globe readers.
I had just received an interview that Tyler Vile
had done with Beki Bondage from Vice Squad.
It was very impressive.
I decided to ask Tyler to interview George..
Here are the results...
I hope you enjoy the interview
as much as I do..
Both Tyler and George are Heroes !!
Punk Globe: Thanks for doing this interview, George. Please tell us a bit about yourself?
George Tabb: I am George Tabb, and I have a dog and he’s “Scooter Lee, from NYC and here to deliver his prophecy!” Actually, that’s from my next big hit song where, you know, I’ve made millions of dollars. I am the hugest rap star that ever existed. I was born in the ghetto, slung crack to support my dope habit, and ended up being up there with Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. If you believe that, I’ve got a great deal on a 200-inch plasma television. Actually, I’m honored to be doing this interview and that you and Punk Globe so much for asking me. Oh, the bit about the dog is almost true. I do have a Yorkie named “Scooter.” And he’s really kind of awesome. We do dog therapy together at St. Vincent’s Hospital here in New York City when I’m feeling well enough. We’ll get to that, I’m sure. But, yeah, I was born in Brooklyn, New York, last century; and, boy, how times have remained the same.
Punk Globe: How and when did you first get involved with punk rock?
George Tabb: Funny story, actually. My stepfather, Nick, went to our local library here in Greenwich Village and checked out an album called “Young, Loud, & Snotty” by the Dead Boys. My friend, a librarian, was surprised they even had it. Anyway, I heard it, and it changed everything. It was fast, funny, loud, and those first lines of the first song, “Sonic Reducer” are “I don’t need anyone, don’t need no mom and dad” and I thought, “Fuck yeah!” I was into Rocky Horror at the time and this was the next step. Also, at the same time I got turned onto The Ramones, and their whole uniform and family image really got to me. I wanted to be part of a cool family, not a fucked up one where my dad kicked my ass everyday and everyone was in denial. The Ramones put everything out there and made it funny. And I thought, “I want to be a Ramone.” Oh, how those words have come back to haunt me. I actually believed they were brothers for a long time. By the time I found out they weren’t, it didn’t matter. They all liked one another and dressed the same and I could be part of the whole thing if I just wore a leather jacket and ripped jeans, which is exactly what I did. Pissed off my parents, scared my teachers, and turned on the chicks. It was awesome. Thank God for The Ramones.
I have so much to say on them that I’ve written about them in books and such. They actually saved my life a few times when times really sucked. Both on a commercial level, and later, on a personal level. So, yeah, The Dead Boys and Ramones. And also I felt like family at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB when I was a kid. Everyone excepted me at those places even though I was a total geek. At school, I just got beat up...but at these clubs, I was “normal.” It meant the world to me. And I saw great early acts like “ Wayne County, ” “The Ramones,” of course, and even “Von LMO.” Ha!
Punk Globe: You had a friendship with the world famous Ramones, correct? What would you say is your favorite memory with them?
George Tabb: Correct! Oh, I have so many great memories of all of them as a band, and as individuals. Some that stand out are like when Johnny Ramone explained to me backstage once that the reason he didn’t practice guitar was because it was a tool of the trade. “George,” he said in that Queens nasal voice, “a plumber has a wrench, a carpenter has a hammer, and I have a guitar. Do those guys take their tools home and ‘practice’?” I thought that was funny and dead on! I also loved the way Monte would dote over Joey and tell him to stand there and just “guard” his mic stand to keep him busy. Then there was the time when Joey came to the recording studio with my band, Furious George, to sing on our album. He was so loving, and we had lots of kids doing back-up vocals, and he couldn’t have been sweeter. Also, there were the times when Joey was drunk and my old band, Letch Patrol, would try and drive him home singing “Rock n Roll High School ” in the Letchmobile. Or when Joey introduced me to his mom...there’s thousands with all of them. I was even “Best Man” at Dee Dee’s wedding to Barbara. He had me hold the ring and was so happy about getting married...all of those guys are/were great human beings. A little coo-coo, but I am as well so we all got along great. I have really come to know Tommy a bit more these days, and he is sweeter than anyone could imagine. And of course there is Monte, the fifth Ramones. He was their road manager, and to me, as important as Joey or Johnny. Without him, there would be no Ramones. He’s the unsung hero of that band. Help them together with Elmer’s Glue and duct tape. Amazing. And I got to know Chris (C-Jay) a lot and he was PERFECT for the band. Great guy, great attitude, and as honest as they come. Very sweet and really comes from a working family. Most people don’t know but after 9/11, he risked his life to clean buildings to help others so they wouldn’t get sick. He’s a true hero in my book.
Punk Globe: Did you ever clash with Johnny Ramone on politics?
George Tabb: Why would I? Why would anyone? Johnny Ramone’s view on politics was such a cartoon that you really couldn’t take it seriously. His ideas came from comic books, and his ideas of foreign policy was to throw hand grenades at the bad guys. If we are being honest here, I bet John was “right wing” just to be “punk rock” and piss off everyone else. He was hysterical. I mean, if you are out to upset the status quo and be “Punk Rock,” Johnny was it. He’d say stuff that would piss people off or make them laugh. Thinking about it, he was a lot like “Lee Ving” from FEAR. Just said stuff to incite people. But most of the time he was just pulling your leg. Or pissing in your beer. He got me really good with that one. But on my last show with them as their roadie, I pissed in his water bottle, and instead of wanting to kill me, he just laughed it off. I miss him. And all of them guys.
Punk Globe: On the subject of politics, you're a notable dissident. What inspires you to speak out?
Photo Credit: Shari Saffioti
George Tabb: I speak out because I have too. Probably growing up Jewish in the Nazi town of Greenwich, Connecticut helped. As did moving to retarded Floriduh. But since I was young, I’d always fight for what was right. My dad used to beat the shit out of me and my brothers. I hated seeing them get hit more then if my dad was hitting me. So I’d go after my dad and make him fight me instead of my little brothers. I can’t stand injustice, and will stand up to ANYONE who picks on someone else. It’s just wrong. And when it’s the government, and they are going after the little guy who can’t defend himself, well, fuck them. I’ll kick their pussy asses. We have the right to be “Happy” in this country. The pursuit of it is in the constitution, and any knuckle-head who tries to stop anyone from that is no friend of mine. That’s why this whole gay marriage thing pisses me off so much. Why should the government define what makes people happy and stop them? There’s this story about a guy who wouldn’t defend anyone, and when his time came, there was no one there for him. We’ll, I’ll never be that guy. And don’t like people who have no backbone. The more we stand up for our rights as HUMANS, the stronger we become, and the weaker the haters become. I LOVE the ACLU. They stand up for the right for others to say whatever they want. It’s freedom of speech. Without it we’d be Nazi Germany or Ugly Russia where they kill people who have smart ideas. We should never take our rights for granted and always exercise them. Even if it does get us in a bit of trouble. And yeah, I’ve seen trouble with the whole 9/11 thing that has gotten me sick to the point of I don’t know if I’ll survive, but I will tell you one thing....I won’t shut my mouth about it for anything. People are sick and the government is lying and covering it up. Not good in my book, and I’ll fight them to my death on this one. I’ve been told by “government officials” if I didn’t keep my mouth shut about the toxins from 9/11 I’d end up in Guantonimo Bay . That I was “violating National Security.” Fuck that. I’d rather be dead than live in a country where they lock you up for telling the truth. This isn’t 1938. And we must always remember to fight for what is right. No matter how unpopular it might be. Popular is not always right. Right is right.
Punk Globe: What do you think about President Obama?
George Tabb: He seems very likable. I love the fact that his daughters are so in love with their DWhat daddy as is his wife. I think he’s a good man. I hope he can fix or start to fix the damage that was done by those evil greedy bastards who just left office. I think they should be tried for treason. All of them. And if found guilty. they should be hung. They RUINED our National Security. They broke the rules of our constitution, and they say others are un-American? Fuck them. I was truly sick to my stomach when I saw that we had a hand in hanging Saddam Hussien. This is a new century and we are still helping lynch mobs? Those fuckers who were in the White House deserve no less then they dished out. I think this country needs to see that to heal To know that there are consequences for fucking over the people. I mean, Sadam Hussien was a bad guy. But the whole world should have dealt with him...not us. It was wrong. Kids everywhere now have the wrong idea of what justice is, and what courts are for. Let them learn from the trials of Bush, Cheney and that fucker, Rumsfield. Man, I hate those guys. Bush the least cause I really think he’s just a stupid front man who really had no clue of the evil that was pulling his strings. This is what happens when you let corporations run everything. You get deleted.
Punk Globe: What first inspired you to write?
George Tabb: I’m not really sure. When I was a kid I used to make my own comic books because there were super-hereos I wanted to see that didn’t exist. Later, I wrote stories about everything and anything I’d never seen before. In 1985, Tim Yohannon asked me to write for Maximumrocknroll. I’d done my own ‘zine in Floriduh years earlier, but this was my first international exposure. From then it, it has been wonderful and I am happily addicted. Writing lets you express your soul. Actually, in high school I kept these journals where I’d write about whatever. It was great practice and really opened up my mind to thinking about things from different angles. And that’s really important if you want to learn anything in this world!
Punk Globe: If you wouldn't mind, please give our readers short synopses of your three books and where they're available.
George Tabb: My books are: “Playing Right Field: A Jew Grows In Greenwich”, “Surfing Armageddon: Fascists, Fishnets and Body Fluids in Florida ” and “Take My Life Please”. The third book is only available in French and is a collection of some of my stories from Maximumrocknroll. The other two you can get from any bookstore that carries cool shit...or better yet, Amazon. I still don’t make money on these books as they haven’t broken even yet...but they are great reads. True life stores about growing up. Funny, sad, but most of all, stories with morals. People seem to really love them and they are great for anyone of any age. I purposely write them for like 5th grade readers because that’s the kind of book I’d want to read. I’m not a huge reader...but easy and fun books kick ass. So that’s what mine are. Easy and fun. Really fun. I suggest readers actually just get them from their local library. Both books won awards from “The School Library Journal”, so they should be available there for free! I hope to start a new one and end this trilogy soon...but have been way too sick from 9/11 to really do that. It’s funny, I wrote the first two in the last 4 years..but as I’ve gotten sicker, it’s been harder to concentrate. And there are so many stories I want to tell and I want to make people happy and make them laugh. It’s what I’m best at. Really. Oh, thanks for asking about the books! You go!!!!
Punk Globe: You wrote for the acclaimed zine Maximum RocknRoll, correct? MRR has gotten very public criticism from people such as Kurt Cobain and Jello Biafra accusing it of elitism. What are your thoughts on that?
George Tabb: Tim Yohannon, who started Maximumrocknroll was one of my best friends. When he passed away it was one of the saddest days of my life. I love the man, and his magazine. Well, the idea of his magazine. While I may not love everything in there, I love the idea of it. A magazine that has NO corporate funding. I think the concept of MRR is more important than the content at this point. Just the fact that a group of kids can run a magazine on their own without have to “give in” to anyone rocks. Oh, and Tim and I always argued about that “elitism” thing. I probably side more with Jello and the late Kurt on this...but that’s the content. Not the zine itself. Underneath it all, Tim was a very practical guy. He even told me, well, he said, “George, if you want to make money playing music, you HAVE TO sign to a major label.” I asked Tim if he had a problem with that and he told me he didn’t. As long as I was honest about it. That I wanted to make money. And that’s all cool, ya know? I think people hate Maximumrocknroll because they are actually doing it on their own terms and people are jealous. Me? I just read the columns these days anyway.
Punk Globe: Do you have any advice for a young punk writer such as yours truly?
George Tabb: Yup. Keep a journal...write down your thoughts, share them with others, and practice. Making money at this is very tricky and only took me twenty years to make one dime!!!! Have fun and do it from your heart. Write for anyone who will have you and don’t even think about the money. Think about how others will read your words and hopefully understand the human condition better. That’s what it’s all about in the end, anyway. Understanding each other and accepting that. Write about anything and everything that interests you. Love, hate, relationships, punk rock, beer, guitars, Monty Python, Batman, whatever. Just do it!
Punk Globe: Please tell us about the bands you've been in. Are you in one currently?
George Tabb: You’ll have to read my future books for all that. I started a band called “Roach Motel” in late 1979. One of the first “hardcore” bands that ever existed. We were just trying to be like the Ramones, but were too hyper..so the music was faster. It’s funny they made a name for it. I’ve been in lots of bands, some famous, some not so famous. I hope to continue doing my band “Furious George” if I’m well enough. The main thing is I like to have fun. And if it ain’t fun, I ain’t gonna do it. I was in a couple of bands that weren’t fun, and boy did I learn my lesson. Oh, and I was in the Ramones for one day! Now that, was fun!! I suggest to everyone in a band...have fun...and if you are doing it for any other reason....don’t.
Punk Globe:: You've also had your foot in the door of television and film, tell us a bit about that if you please...
George Tabb: I’m not good at bragging. I had a TV show in New York called “Destroy Television” for over a decade with guests on it like Joey Ramone, Dick Manitoba, Debbie Harry of Blondie, etc. It was fun and punk rock! One day maybe I’ll put out a dvd or something if anyone is interested. I was also in Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam”. I wrote the main song with some of David Berkowitz’s lyrics and got to perform in the movie as Adrian Brody’s best friend. The movie making was fun...but getting to know Spike Lee was better. He’s a really cool guy, and he’s really funny, and in a lot ways, very punk rock. He’s does almost everything D.I.Y., and likes to joke around most of the time. I also got to meet and hang out with some really nice actors, and overall, it was a great experience for both myself, and my band, Furious George, who played the band “Late Term Abortion” in the movie.
Punk Globe: On September 11th, 2001 a great tragedy occurred. As a living victim you have struggled greatly. Enlighten our readers on how that day has affected your health..
George Tabb: Fuck. That’s the big question and the downer part of this interview. I was living down the street, lost everything I owned, lost lots of good friends, volunteered to help, and am now sick and probably dying from all the poisons the government lied about not existing. I went and got my own scientists to prove the truth and just got threatened with Guantanamo Bay if I continued to talk about it. Of course I did, and went on National Television and all that....and hopefully, I’ve saved some lives and helped others see what’s really going on. Chernobyl-On-The-Hudson . I have been diagnosed with plenty of life-ending diseases and am fighting for every breath everyday. I’m totally broke from all of this and can’t work because I can’t really get around because I’m that sick. Please check out myspace.com/helpgeorgetabb for the full story. I don’t want to depress the readers of this fine magazine...but I have had to resort to asking for money on the internet to stay alive. Why? Because the government refuses to acknowledge what I’m saying. They know it’s true, and even have admitted to some of it...but they keep trying to shut me up. And I won’t. So they tell lies about me on Fox News. Go ahead and google me, you’ll see. But the truth is the truth. And no matter how unpopular it is, I’ve got to get it out there, even with my last breaths. If I can save other lives, then you are damn right I’m gonna do exactly that. I’ve become the “poster child” of 9/11 illnesses. Not because I wanted too. At all. But because no one else will do it. Like I said earlier, it is never gonna get to the point where that story happens and they come for me. I’m gonna stand up and shout right now. Defend what’s right and help others. The whole reason I even began speaking out about this...even before I was sick...was because I saw children and pregnant women being exposed to this shit and I thought that adults can make their own stupid decisions, but babies and kids? Who is watching out for them? I’ll fight for the right for people to get better and to get some kind of financial help from this until the day I die. Which I hope is not as close as all the doctors keep telling me. I am fighting for what is right..and if I had to go through the same thing all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. It was right to help those who were down there...even if it did put my health at risk. We are human beings, here for one another, and to do anything else would be wrong. Plus, as you can see from my written history here on these pages, what else was I gonna do? It’s me. I’ll always be on the side of good. And that’s why I love Punk Rock so much. It’s on the side of good! It lets people be who they are and makes them happy. It’s live and let live. And there are no finer reasons for existing than that!
Punk Globe: What do you do to cope with the day to day?
George Tabb: Try to make it from minute to minute to be honest. Some of my meds really help...but they are very expensive...so I have to take them slowly and just take deep breaths if I can. When I’m feeling well enough, I volunteer all my healthy time to dog therapy. I take my Yorkie, Scooter, to the local hospital to visit people in bad shape and try to make them feel better. My dog does that for me..so why shouldn’t I share that with others? To not do it would be a crime I couldn’t live with.
Punk Globe: Have these ailments made you more appreciative of everyday life?
George Tabb: I’ve always appreciated life. Now, I guess I take NOTHING for granted. I saw this quote from Martin Luther King the other day and it really applies to my life and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. He once said, “In a time of crisis, it’s not the words of your enemies you remember, but the silence of your friends”. Thank God I have friends in the Punk Rock world, who have kept me going and alive, and have been there for me. I thank God everyday for them and the whole scene. Like I said earlier, I’ve always been searching for a family cause mine was so fucked up that I wrote two books about it so far. In the Punk Rock, I have found that family...and I love them dearly. Hell, Janye County is like my mom, and Joey Ramone was like my older brother. Hilly Kristal was my Dad for many years as was Tim Yohannon, and I miss them both dearly. If it weren’t for my “Punk Rock Family” I wouldn’t be alive today. And that is the God’s honest truth. Bless The Punk Rock!
Punk Globe: Do you still go to punk shows, or has your condition prevented you from doing that?
George Tabb: I haven’t been to a show in years. The furthest I make it out of my step-dad’s apartment is too the hospital. I haven’t even been well enough to go to a movie. Doh!! But that’s okay...there’s the Internet, video games, and the loving e-mails that keep my soul alive along with some special friends that come to visit me. Evan and Marc, both member of Furious George, come over often. They are my family and my band. How lucky am I? And then there is Monica, who helps me with day to day 9/11 stuff and her and I are starting something called “Whirlwind Coalition” where we bring attention to those in need. Without these people, and my friends Jill, Shari, Paul and my friends at the hospital, I’d be a goner. I am the most blessed person I know!
Punk Globe: What can any of us do to help you and others affected by 9/11?
George Tabb: Please please please go to http://www.myspace.com/helpgeorgetabb to read more about this and to donate and stuff. There is a lot going on...and everyone can help in some way. And isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway?
Punk Globe: Once again thank you so much George for doing this interview. On behalf of Punk Globe, our hearts go out to you and our thoughts are with you. Do you have any final comments?
George Tabb: You guys (The Punk Rock World) are my family. I will always love you and will be here for you as long as I can be. Thank you for making my life worth living.