7 questions with musician Mickey Leigh

He’s the brother of the late Joey Ramone, but Mickey Leigh also has a rich musical career to brag about, as well as chops as a writer.

The longtime musician-writer and his band, Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music, have released a new album; “Variants of Vibe” features plenty of snappy pop-punk tracks and an overall spirit of joyful rebellion. Leigh is going strong at 67 and says he hopes to take a few gigs to the Hudson Valley area this spring to share his music with regional punk rock fans.

He spends a lot of time at his home in West Shokan and says he’s been coming to the area since he was relatively little, fronting bands like the Rattlers and STOP, or performing with the late and legendary music critic Lester Bangs in a band called Birdland.

Leigh is also a published author whose book, “I slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir,” is being made into a movie for Netflix and stars Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” in the role of Joey.

My favorite place is. . .

Well, it’s a pretty big valley, and I’ve been here all my life before I even had a home here. That said, my favorite place is the one my mother searched in the valley and found in 2003: the little house on top of a mountain in West Shokan. I also like to go to the Boiceville market. And I really like Steve Heller’s fabulous furniture store on Route 28. He makes things out of old cars from the 50s that look futuristic.

The thing you probably don’t know about me is . . .

I have webbed toes. Other than that, my life is like an open book.

I can not live without. . .

Maple syrup! Who doesn’t love maple syrup? There’s a place I go near my house, High Point Mountain Maple Syrup. You can see the whole process, watch the guy make it and buy it there. I have visited this place several times, I love this place.

East or west side of the Hudson River?

If you really want me to choose, well I should choose the east side because that’s where I’m from. Growing up east of the river in New York, I will always consider this home. And what better than home?

What’s the weirdest thing you own?


Mickey Leigh

I’m looking at my brother’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame trophy right now, which is kinda weird and maybe even the weirdest thing ever. . . But words can’t quite describe the weirdest thing here. I should show you a picture. It’s a bottle of New York Mets wine — I guess they have their own brand — I had a bobblehead Joey Ramone, the head broke off and I put the head on top of the bottle .

Man, I wish tourists would. . .

Revive those “I’m With Idiots” t-shirts. It was a fun, honest, and effective way for them to warn locals of what to expect.

Your band covers Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” like a catchy, fuzzy pop-punk song, and you live pretty close to Woodstock. What’s the truth about hippie-punk relationships these days?

I don’t foresee any punk bands covering this “hippie” song. The main reason was that I like the message. I know for most “punks” to have the words “I want love between my brothers and sisters” in a punk rock song would be considered sacrilege to their philosophy. That was one of the diabolical reasons I wanted to record it – to teach misguided “punks” a lesson. I used to argue with one of the co-founders of Punk magazine that the punk ethos was no different from that of the hippies. In my opinion, they are both married to nonconformity. And they will never divorce because they don’t even realize they are in a relationship.

Hudson Valley Art, Music and Culture