10 Essential New York Artists: #5 Jesse Malin & D Generation
The News: Malin is on the road supporting his latest EP Meet Me At The End Of The World which includes a handful of excellent new originals and a dynamite Big Star cover. Catch him if you can on a bill with Cheap Trick at the Capitol Theatre on November 18th.
“We always liked bands that had melodic kind of pop songs; groups like The Replacements and Cheap Trick and T-Rex. You’re taking something really nasty with the melody and the two are fighting against each other and you get something out of it. Some of our favorite bands live always had a little more edge than their records. They stepped it up, the rawness, the underproduction of a live show…” -Jesse Malin
Sitting down with Jesse Malin, Danny Sage, and Howie Pyro shortly before they took the stage at Irving Plaza last summer, I asked if they had any rituals that they employed while writing the first new D Generation album in seventeen years. Jesse immediately countered with, “Is fighting a ritual?” There then are the twin tensions, musical and interpersonal, that are the heartbeat of this essential New York City band.
Even though they broke up in ’99, Malin, Sage, and Pyro – along with Richard Bacchus and Michael Wildwood – continued to guest on each other’s albums and remain in each other’s lives. These were the five who made their self-titled debut in ’94 and whose roots together went back to Queens in the early 80s. Malin and Sage, based in the Whitestone neighborhood, made their first marks on record and on stage together in the hardcore outfit Heart Attack. The five had done a one-off reunion in 2008 and a tour in 2011/2012. However sessions for a new record in 2012 with Ryan Adams producing were aborted and months on the calendar kept flipping by.
Nothing Is Anywhere was recorded in the most appropriate place imaginable, a bar in the East Village. A tiny studio exists within Hifi on Avenue A and that’s where the fellows captured tracks. It was done with a lot of bleed and a lot of blood as Sage, who produced it, remarked. Malin noted that they had learned a lot from guys like Ric Ocasek and Tony Visconti (who produced No Lunch and Through The Darkness respectively) but getting back to the garage so to speak resulted in something more raw and more real. The tracks recorded at Hifi were originally planned to be demos but Sage, working with the group’s front of house engineer Mark Lewis, recognized the album was done and that it’s what we’ve been waiting for.
I had a chance to speak with Jesse Malin in 2015 as he released his album, New York Before The War. That interview is spread out over the two videos below; the first is the TV piece that ran to announce the album and preview a show, the second a brilliant rant about New York…