Our parents know best is a saying that we have often grown up hearing, but neglected to absorb. We spent most of our teenage years fighting those wise words, but in our twenties now, we have come to terms that it is true. Listening to the music therapists within us, we credit the music of the past for opening up the doors to our parents. The bands of the past give us our music foundation, much like our parents’ knowledge builds our values. So, we give much thanks to The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix for setting us on the right path and to resurrecting groups like Jane’s Addiction and D Generation to keep us on course.
D Generation is the latest band on a verge of a comeback. The glam punk group formed in 1991 in New York City and at that time consisted of Jesse Malin, Danny Sage, Richard Bacchus, John Carco, Howie Pyro and Michael Wildwood. Through the years, D Generation experienced the common lineup changes, but managed to release three studio recordings, which include 1994’s self-titled debut, 1996’s “No Lunch” and 1999’s “Through The Darkness”. The outfit folded in 1999, but 12 years later are ready to revive their D Generation sound.
The 90s band currently consists of vocalist, Jesse Malin, bassist, Howie Pyro, guitarist and vocalist, Richard Bacchus, guitarist and vocalist, Danny Sage and drummer, Michael Wildwood. The quintet performed at NYC’s Irving Plaza, throughout California and in Spain at the Turborock Festival. We got to chat with Sage about the group’s comeback, but also about the direction the music industry and the New York City music scene have taken.
Check out our interview below!
For starters, why did you guys choose to get back together as D Generation after more than a decade
I hate to sound catty about it, but everybody or the majority of the band was kind of getting along anyway, which is rare for all five us to not be killing each other. We get offers every year, but a couple of really big ones keep popping up, like the festival in Spain. It’s really nice and a couple of us go, oh it would be great to go to Spain. It would be great to play Irving again. It would be great to see everybody again, but for one reason or another it just never works out. The big thing for me personally is that I was never interested in just playing two or three shows. I just thought that was really stupid. I didn’t want to uproot my whole life to play two or three D Generation shows.
What is like for you guys to play together again? Does it feel like so much time has passed by?
Actually to me, you might get a different answer from somebody else, but it is kind of exactly the same. The good things are the same and the bad things are the same, but as far as being on stage with the band that feels great. The gigs have been great. These have been some of the best gigs we have played. Saturday night at Irving was probably the top three of five shows we have ever played anywhere. Actually, we did a show in Spain at a place called Santander and that was also in the top five shows we have ever played. So, I think that says a lot.
What’s the crowd been like at these shows? A mix of both an older and younger generation?
Ya, we were actually talking about that. It’s really weird. I think we kind of assumed it would be a bunch of people that used to come see us. That’s really nice, but there is a whole other element to it that we would have been missing. I think we saw more new faces, granted there is 1200 people. A huge number of the people that we saw were people that we have never seen before and a lot of them were really young. I guess they just heard about the band and never seen us in the flesh. So now, we are super cool.
How are you guys choosing your set list for these shows?
I wrote one for Irving. Initially that was going to be different than anything else. We just really wanted to cover everything pretty much. We were kind of life on the “Through The Darkness”, on the last record and I mean that was really done intentionally, but with the first two records we were pretty thorough. Once we wrote that set list, we tweaked it once or twice. Basically, we played a show in Spain and we kind of thought there was going to be a lull midway through, so we kind of changed it. After that, we just kind of left it. We made minor changes to it, but it’s pretty much been the same. Everybody was raving about it. A lot of thought, time and effort went into that. Once we nailed it, I think the pacing was really good and it covers pretty much everything.
How would you describe the NYC music scene when you first formed D Generation compared to the scene now?
I don’t know there is one really. I am sure there it is somewhere. I just don’t know if it is in New York City. I am pretty sure that it is not because you can’t play live music in New York City anymore. Unless you’re a national or international act or someone pretty famous, there really is nowhere to play. All of the places where we grew up playing and seeing gigs, they either don’t exist at all or if they exist, they are like a sports bar or something. In New York City, I don’t think there are enough places to play. I think it’s really sad. I’m sure it’s going to happen somewhere else. I don’t know if it’s North Carolina or a desert in Arizona. It’s got to go somewhere, but I don’t think New York City.
Over the course of your career, what changes in the industry have taken you by surprise?
Obviously, I think the biggest thing now is that there is no industry. It suits me fine. I was never a fan. I used to tease about it. We used to handle record labels as if we were bank robbers. We are probably the best bank robbers that never had weapons. We held up companies for billions of dollars and we never used a gun. We just got away with murder. So I think the biggest thing is that nobody under 30 understands the concept of paying money for recorded music. It’s like a nonexistent model. For somebody like me, it makes it really hard to make a living. So that’s a strict difference. Like everybody will tell you, there are pros to that scenario and there are some cons to that scenario, but certainly that’s the biggest change. Those bohemist record labels are gone and I guess, forever.
What about the rock genre? Do you think more genres are starting to merge together?
I think you’re right. I think its all become really kind of wishy washy. It has also been kind of taken over by white kids, who have this idea that they have to be these people. So you get these kind of John Mayer type of people. I don’t know what it is exactly. You get these kind of middle of the road artists that are tying to sell Big Macs.
You guys have worked with some awesome artist, like David Bowie and have toured with legendary bands, like The Ramones. Are there any particular artists that you would like to work with now?
We are actually lucky in that way. We’ve always been friendly with people that we think are kindred spirits like Bryan Adams, like the beginning of Whiskeytown, we always talk about working together. I am pretty friendly with Billie from Green Day and we had always talked about working together. There has always been this kind of mutual admiration for certain people. So we always kind of have that open to us. A lot of people are really excited that we are back. So, I am sure we are going to wind up doing things with them. We like the guys from The Black Keys. There’s a bunch. We’ve been really fortunate in that way that maybe we never sold a lot of records, but I think we are really respected by guys in other bands and that’s really important.
Are there any artists on the radio now that you listen to?
I am not that much of a fan of the rock n’ roll thing. I don’t see anybody doing anything that new or earth shattering. The newer things that I listen to are… I really like Adele. I like The Black Keys record. I like weird things. I like that girl Santigold. When something like Santigold impresses me and catches my attention way quicker than some guys with guitars.
Do you have your comeback mapped out or taking it day by day?
It’s so typical of us to take it day by day and really we can’t do it any other way. Especially after Irving Plaza and some of the gigs in Europe, we are definitely looking to come back and do some stuff.
What about an upcoming album?
Ya, we are definitely going to be making a new record. I think as soon as we get a break, after the holidays, I am sure we are going to start getting in the room and start making a new record.
by Lonnie Nemiroff