Friday, May 6, 2011
Interview with Danny Sage from D Generation
By Chris Carlton
Chris Carlton spoke with Danny Sage, lead guitarist of D-Generation, about his influences, involvement in D-Gen and the band's upcoming shows (hint: Riot Fest)!
Squid Pro Quo: Growing up in New York, you must have seen some pretty amazing bands over the years. What was it like being a part of the NY music scene, and do you have any fond memories?
Danny Sage: "Yeah, I was lucky. I saw The Ramones at The Diplomat in late '77, I think. I was a little kid. But I was so small, I could only see the backdrop. Maybe the top of Joey's head. I left cause I couldn't see anything. I think I stayed for three songs! But I did see a lot of good bands and I knew about a lot of ones I couldn't see. Since New York is kind of the center of everything, they all came through there and there were good fanzines and magazines and record stores! And I liked bands before they got big usually, so I'd get to see them in smaller places, and that's always better. If I didn't live in New York, I wouldn't have gotten that opportunity probably."
SPQ: Who are your musical influences?
DS: "I have a lot of things and people that inspired me: The Beatles, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash... Then certain guitar players: Mick Ronson, James Williamson, Jimmy Page, Mick Jones, Steve Jones, James Honeyman Scott, Angus Young... I could go on forever. I also like things that no one ever guesses. I love Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Django Reinhardt... I like Adele's new record. The first one's great, too."
SPQ: How did you get involved in D Generation?
DS: "I had always played on and off with Jesse (Malin), since we were about 14 or so. I played guitar in Heart Attack, about 1982 or so. We had always talked about making a more rock 'n' roll band with two guitars, a singer, then we finally did in 1991. After a few false starts, it turned into the real D Gen lineup."
SPQ: You must have played some amazing gigs over the years. Where is your all-time favorite place to play/see a gig?
DS: "I always loved Irving Plaza in New York. It's no accident that our show in NYC is there. I always loved seeing bands there, as well as playing there. The first time we played there, we sold it out, and that was a really big deal to us. I love the Glasgow Barrowlands. We did shows there in 1998 with Green Day, and it was amazing. The kids are fucking crazy. Spain is great, there are some other really memorable places. I used to love to play the old Continental in NYC, and CBGB of course. They were always great to us."
SPQ: D Gen's second album, "No Lunch," was produced by The Cars' Ric Ocasek. What was it like working with Ric?
DS: "Ric was my first choice after a while for "No Lunch". The only other people I might have looked at were Chris Thomas and maybe Bill Price. We met with a lot of people, but they weren't ever considered seriously, and my only other choices were dead people, or people like Jimmy Page. I would put dead guys' names on my list to see if my A&R guy was asleep or not. My first real choice was Ric. I liked the first Weezer album, and I like The Cars, and I was aware that he'd worked with Bad Brains and Suicide, who we all love. He lives in New York, he's really smart and funny, it was a good fit, at least for me, he and I got on well. And I think that's a good record. I learned a lot from Ric."
SPQ: I always looked at D Gen as being one of those great bands that just fell through the cracks and never really caught on the way you should have. Did you feel like that changed a little bit after the band split up? Like people might have said "Ahh, they were pretty damn good! We should have paid more attention to them?"
DS: "Not to sound like we invented fire, but we were the real deal, and it just so happened that the timing was really bad. People were really into Seattle, grunge, etc. and we were the polar opposite of that, on the surface. Things have changed a lot, and a lot of people are hip to what we we're into. Also, New York is somehow glamorous and amazing to everyone now. It wasn't that way till like 10 years ago. Five scruffy idiots from New York? People looked at us like we had horns sticking out of our heads. Now, they get it. Too late!"
SPQ: After the band split, you recorded some solo material. Have those recordings ever been released?
DS: "I was lucky; I moved to L.A. and I met a guy named Phil Jaurigui, who owns Swinghouse Studios in L.A. He was a D Gen fan, he and I became friends and he asked me what my plans were. He eventually let me make a record at his place. I did it in about 2001/2002. But when I finished, I started to meet with people, and it was like whoever would get into it would be fired two weeks later. It was the very beginning of the 'cleaning house' of all the big labels, so I got really disillusioned with the whole thing and just kind of ignored it. So, to this day, it's never been released. Maybe next year! I'm not gonna sweat it. It's so old now, I don't have an attachment to it."
SPQ: With the classic D Gen lineup back, (Danny Sage - guitar, Jesse Malin - vocals, Michael Wildwood - drums, Howie Pyro - bass, Richard Bacchus - guitar) together for a couple upcoming shows in New York (Irving Plaza 9/17) and L.A. (Troubadour 9/24), are there any plans for a full-scale tour or possibly a new album?
DS: "It's hard to say. Everyone has other commitments. We'll see how it goes. Right now, the band is getting along relatively well, and there are a lot of offers so we'll see what happens."
SPQ: Where can people get in touch with the band, get show dates and ticket info? Is there an official D Generation or Danny Sage website you want to plug?
DS: "There is www.dgeneration.us, to get info on the band. It's brand new. There's also a facebook page, but I couldn't tell you which one it is. I guess the one with the least lies on it. Or maybe the one with the most lies. Can't remember."
SPQ: Danny, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo. I, for one, am psyched about having the band back again. I hope we can get you guys back to Chicago after so many years away.
DS: "Thanks. We will be in Chicago for Riot Fest; I think early October. See you then."