When D Generation formed in 1991, the band’s members may not have had any idea what it was they were getting themselves into. Then again, perhaps they found exactly what they were looking for. After being together for less than a decade, the members of the band—who lived the hybrid life of the hardcore, punk and gritty glam rock they played—became familiar with getting thrown out of hotels and off stages, being dropped by a major record label even before their first release, and trouble making in general.
Three childhood friends—vocalist Jesse Malin, guitarist Danny Sage, and guitarist Richard Bacchus—started D Generation in New York City’s East Village as a straight-ahead rock band. The exact moment in time that they made the switch to being “degenerate misfit deviants who might even be considered talented musicians” —as D Generation was described by imusic.com—is unclear, but the band made its name for being angry, yet dedicated, members of New York’s punk scene.
Before they’d ever been signed, D Generation played sell-out concerts at such seminal New York City venues as CBGB and the Continental. Lorraine Ali described them in Rolling Stone in 1999 as “New York ’90s punk that takes the best of the ’70s Street-rat sneers, tight black pants and artfully messed-up hairdos: D Generation are the stuff that popped-up 70s punk was made of…. tailor-made for grimy pinball arcades and Brand X beer-drinking binges.”
D Generation finally earned the attention of the major labels and in 1994 signed with EM I. The band was geared up for its self-titled debut, but changes in the upper levels of the EMI left the band out in the cold. They’d gotten lost in the shuffle and left with none of the support they’d signed on for. Luckily, positive media exposure had brightened the band’s prospects and, after a major-label bidding war, D Generation signed with Columbia Records in 1996.
D Generation’s Columbia debut, No Lunch, was released in 1996. They chose the former front man of the 1980s rock band The Cars, Ric Ocasek, to produce the record. Ocasek had previously worked with long-time punk band Bad Brains, alternative pop band Weezer and rockers Bad Religion. Spin’s Charles Aaron rated the record an eight out of ten, writing, “D Generation defiantly believe in rock ‘n’roll’s burlesque. They justwanna wrap the dirty city up in (less than) three tumultuous minutes and stuff it in your back pocket,” Aaron wrote, referring to the high-powered impact of the band’s short songs.
In addition to giving the record a four-star review, Rolling Stone writer David Fricke wrote in 1996, “There is no better sales pitch for the snot-rock classicism and teenage-warfare spirit of D Generation than [the song] ’No Way Out.’ Richard Bacchus’ and Danny Sage’s guitars spit bullets, singer Jesse Malin seethes with rabid impatience. Malin, Sage, Bacchus, bassist Howie Pyro and drummer Michael Wildwood embrace the values of aggressive brevity.” Fricke went on the label the song a “stone classic” and predicted that D Generation would be able to produce more music in the No Lunch vein.
The video for “No Way Out,” directed by Nigel Dick debuted on MTV’s weekly alternative video show “120 Minutes” in October of 1996. Dick was behind the camera for Guns’n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” as well. In 1997, Richard Bacchus left the band and was replaced by guitarist Todd Youth. They also covered Iggy Pop’s “I Got Nothing,” which was included on the Iggy Pop tribute album, We Will Fall. D Generation had a knack for landing on high profile tours. They opened forsuch bands as Social Distortion, L7, Green Day, Cheap Trick, and The Offspring. The band also played on the Ramones’ farewell tour and the KISS reunion tour.
Near the end of 1998, D Generation showed its support for Coney Island High, the nightclub on New York’s Lower East Side that had helped launch the band. One
Members include Richard Bacchus (1991-97, 1999), guitar and vocals; Jesse Malin , vocals; Howie Pyro , bass; Joe Rizzo (1999), drums; Danny Sage , guitar and vocals; Michael Wildwood (1991-99), drums; Todd Youth (1997-99), guitar.
Group formed in New York City, 1995; released debut, D Generation, Columbia, 1994; released No Lunch, Columbia, 1996; released Through the Darkness, Columbia, 1999.
Addresses: Record company —Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave. 26th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
of the club’s owners performed a hostile takeover of sorts when he fired the staff and changed the locks. The band played at a benefit for the venue that raised enough money to buy the club. For the fundraiser, the quintessential 1960s girl-group singer Ronnie Spector sang her signature tune, “Be My Baby,” with D Generation. In February of 1999, Todd Youth left the band and original guitarist Richard Bacchus returned to replace him. Drummer Michael Wildwood was replaced by Joe Rizzo that same year.
With its third release, Through the Darkness, D Generation seemed finally to be gaining the inertia to match its New York City following. “Glam rock, that pungent brew of high fashion, low morals and gender-bending outra-geousness, has always found its earthiest practitioners on the streets of New York,” wrote AH in The New York Times. “This East Village-based band of veteran club punks carries the torch once held by the New York Dolls and…. could finally be headed for its 15 minutes.”
On Through the Darkness, D Generation encouraged the Seventies side of their punk-rock sound by hiring producer Tony Visconti, who’d produced such high-level 1970s acts as David Bowie, T. Rex and Thin Lizzy. With simple three-chord melodies and lead singer Malin’s “Marlbororavaged” voice, the sound of the album was “naive and eager, yet defiant and dirty,” Ali continued in her New York Times review.
The tracks on Through the Darkness showcased the band’s bleak worldview. Chief songwriter Malin’s lyrics dealt with the isolation of life in 1999, sorry relationships, discrimination, and the shallowness of modern entertainment and culture in the face of the new millennium. On the album’s first track, “Helpless,” Malin screams, “Our parents gave us television and vanished in their cars/Teachers gave us bad religion, stomach aches and scars.” The song also appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 film of a group of demonic private school teachers called The Faculty. The band itself called the Through the Darkness “a soundtrack for the end of the world.”
Through the Darkness, Columbia, 1999.
(contributor) The Faculty (soundtrack), Sony, 1998.
(contributor) We Will Fall, Royally, 1997.
No Lunch, Columbia, 1996.
D Generation, EMI, 1994.
The New York Times; March 19, 1999.
Rolling Stone, March 4, 1999.
“D Generation,”. Rocket Online, http://www.rocketonline.com (April 29, 1999).
“D Generation,” Rolling Stone Network, http://rollingstone.com (March 12, 1999).
“D Generation,” Wall of Sound, http://www.wallofsound.com (March 12, 1999).
Additional information was provided by Sparrow Records publicity materials, 1999.
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