NEW YORK (AP) – There’s a thin line, as Tommy Ramone learned, between therapy and documentary.

“Someone sticks a mike in front of you, and all of a sudden you start blabbering all the things that were on your mind for the past 30 years,” said the original drummer for the seminal punk band, explaining the process behind last year’s Ramones documentary. “So maybe a little bit of that was happening.”

The result: “End of the Century,” which debuted to critical acclaim in theaters last August and is now available on DVD. The band members, whose song catalogue includes such studies of the human psyche as “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” and “Psycho Therapy,” are unflinchingly honest in their self-assessments.

“It’s accurate,” guitarist Johnny Ramone said of the finished product before his death. “It left me disturbed.”

There’s a frank discussion about Johnny stealing singer Joey’s girlfriend, which caused a schism in the band that never healed. Bassist Dee Dee details his sad departure from the Ramones, while both he and Johnny level cheap shots at Tommy’s drumming.

“That wasn’t brutal honesty, it was brutal rationalization,” Tommy recalled with a laugh of their pointed comments. “It was sort of a loaded question … The questions, basically, tried to point out whether I was important or not, and that was the wrong question to ask people who are very protective of their turf.

“It was a loaded question, and you saw the answers that they gave.”

“End of the Century” takes its title from the band’s ill-fated 1980 collaboration with producer Phil Spector, who memorably pulled a gun on Dee Dee in the recording studio. The documentary was created over six years by New York-based filmmakers Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields, two lifelong fans of punk music.

There are extensive interviews with all the Ramones except Joey, who died of cancer before he could sit down with the duo. Other seminal figures of the punk era, including Sire Records chief Seymour Stein (a new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee), the Clash’s Joe Strummer and Ramones manager Danny Fields sit down to recount their recollections.

Critics were quick to hail the feature, which captures the band from its days hanging out in Queens until its ultimate demise. “We would hang out, sniff glue or smoke pot … listen to the Stooges,” Dee Dee said of the band’s nascent days in the outer boroughs.

Nearly three decades after the Ramones debut album, the 53-year-old Tommy is the last of the band’s original quartet still alive. His shoulder-length hair, peeking out from beneath a wool watch cap, is streaked with grey. His goatee is white, and the face is wrinkled as he recalls his first viewing of the film.

“I liked the fact that there’s a lot of historical footage in there that shows the significance of the band, and how we got together,” he says. “And then it went into basically the trials and tribulations of being in a band with such talented but troubled people.”

The DVD runs two hours and 30 minutes, and comes with a number of extras: a movie trailer, along with interview extras from Strummer and Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. Tommy Ramone offered one criticism of the documentary.

“I’m not sure it shows the Ramones’ sense of humor and its wit,” he observed. “But by the time they started making the movie, there wasn’t much of that around.”

There was no happy ending for the Ramones. The band never scored its much-hoped for commercial breakthrough, and finally imploded after 20 years.

Three of the original four members died too young – Johnny, 55, and Joey, 49, claimed by cancer, Dee Dee dead at 50 from a drug overdose.

For the last years of their lives, bitter ex-bandmates Johnny and Joey stopped speaking entirely. It wasn’t always pretty, but there was always “some weird and interesting stuff going on,” Tommy recalled.

“There’s a compartment of my existence that is Ramones, and that is all in the present tense,” he said. “So something that might have happened 30 years ago seems like just yesterday. I can plug out of that, or plug into that. It’s very much with me all the time.”


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