When Nada Surf plays the Cat's Cradle on Halloween night, they're going to be looking for their Joey Ramone. Ramone died in 2001, but, four years earlier, the New York pop trio—on the heels of its sole mainstream flirtation, "Popular," a sarcastic jab with a big hook—backed Ramone onstage for two nights in one month.
For an Iggy Pop tribute that benefited an AIDS fund, Nada Surf recorded The Stooges track "I'm Sick of You." Ramone opened the album with a cover of "1969," and, at the New York release party for the disc, he needed a backing band. He was going to perform "1969" and "I Wanna Be Sedated," so Nada Surf was called in for the favor: "When I was 11, my best friend's brother played me The Velvet Underground and The Ramones," says frontman Matthew Caws. "So it was pretty exciting."
Bassist Ira Elliott made sure Nada Surf learned "I Wanna Be Sedated" as it had been written, not at the hyper, manic speed The Ramones played it toward the end of its career. Ramone like that, enough that he told the band he would sing their five favorite Ramones tracks with them at their next New York show as gratitude. The band was trying to finish its second album, The Proximity Effect, but it didn't matter. They dropped everything, put the record on hold and spent the next two weeks tightening their top five. When the time came, Ramone showed up for the gig.
"We did our set, and then said, 'We'd like to bring up this special guest,'" Caws remembers, laughing. "It was so much fun."
So, Wednesday night, they'll try to relive the night almost exactly a decade later. They'll have a handful of Ramones songs ready. The band will ask audience members to be a Joey Ramone stand-in, so it'd be best to come in costume: After all, Elliott will be Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee, Caws will be AC/DC's Angus Young and drummer Daniel Lorca will be Pirates of the Carribean's Jack Sparrow. Indeed, you'll be a punk in good company.
Nada Surf plays Cat's Cradle with Sea Wolf and Barghest Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15-$17.