Countless bands are extraordinarily popular in their hometown. But for one reason or another, they never move beyond opening act status nationally. Sometimes their sound doesn't translate beyond a narrow geographic range. More often than not though, label troubles keep the audience from growing or the group from taking advantage of opportunities. D Generation was one of those bands. Though being from New York, they were blessed with a larger than usual local following.
Ex-Heart Attack vocalist Jesse Malin started D Generation in '91 with bassist Howie Pyro and guitarist Richard (Rick) Bacchus. The group's original second guitarist and drummer were replaced by Danny Sage and Michael Wildwood, respectively. This line-up remained intact until '97.
A pair on indie single releases, "No Way Out" b/w "Guitar Mafia" and "Wasted Years" b/w "Waiting For The Next Big Parade" got the group signed to Chrysalis Records. D Generation's self-titled Punk-Glam debut dropped in '94. The set generated a lot of buzz and was gaining exposure when the business side of the music business interfered. EMI, Chrysalis' parent company, came under new management. That meant shifting priorities. Acts promoted by the former regime were demoted, if not completely dropped. Hey, they'd still be running the show if they weren't such screw ups, right? As a result DGen got "D" listed. Malin later famously groused that EMI "wouldn't even give us money to tour."
A year later DGen split from Chrysalis and bought back their album's tapes. Not real happy with the music contained on the reels the group reportedly tossed the tapes into the East River.
When bands leave a label it often spells the end. But to many label execs, DGen's Chrysalis experience seemed more like a missed opportunity. Signed by Columbia Records, the label assigned former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek to produce DGen's sophomore album, "No Lunch." The set contained re-recorded versions of four songs from their debut including "No Way Out" which again was issued as a single. DGen toured, opening for a number of groups, including the Ramones and KISS (on one of their countless reunion tours). Seeing the Ramones and KISS in the same sentence might strike some as odd. But for D Gen, who embraced both Punk and Glam Metal, there was a connection.
DGen spent a chunk of '97 supporting Green Day. When that was completed Bacchus launched a side project, Vasquez, with bassist Sami Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks, New York Dolls) and drummer Eric Kuby. He eventually left DGen to work on Vasquez full-time. But before that happened DGen opening for Green day on the latter's European tour. Back in New York in early '98, the group began recording, "Through the Darkness." Though scheduled for a fall '98 release the CD wasn't issued until February of the following year. In the meantime, Bacchus left and was replaced by Todd Youth. One-off projects came and went, the most notable being Pyro composing a song for a Rancid's "Life Won't Wait" ('98) album. Eventually, Youth and Wildwood left to form Chrome Lust and Bacchus returned, briefly. A west coast tour supporting Offspring and packed local shows preceded the group's break-up in '99. Pyro joined Danzig in '00 while Malin pursued a solo career.
Early on, DGen were dismissed as Johnny Thunders knock-offs. Thunders (John Genzale), the ex-New York Dolls guitarist, became a mainstay of the late '70s New York Punk scene. His alcohol and drug fueled performances and reckless lifestyle (he died in '91) was legendary. A band could do a lot worse than be compared to Thunders.
Under Ocasek's tutelage, the Thunders references faded. Though the group's energy and passion remained intact, they were allowed far fewer opportunities to color outside the lines. That's not necessarily bad. In fact, "No Lunch" is the group's premier effort.