D Generation’s 1994 self titled debut album has to be, without a doubt, the definitive album of the nineties… and of your life for that matter. It is most definitely a work of art of the highest excellence and stands as a model for all future alternative musicians to aspire to.
So then, if this album is that great why have you never heard of D Generation?! All I can offer as an explanation is a catalogue of incompetence, lack of imagination and poor marketing over six years by two of the world’s biggest record companies, EMI and Columbia. It was a case of everyone fighting over a band and when the winner finally emerged with their prize, they just didn’t understand what they had won or what to do with it. So they put it on a shelf and stared blankly at it, too afraid to finance the impending revolution that this band would surely have caused. Or even more frightening, maybe it was a conspiracy by these giant capitalist record companies to silently repress this revolt against their safe, happy mercantile status quo… who knows?!
Formed in New York City in 1991, D Generation were signed to Chrysalis Records in late 1993 on the strength of their explosive live show, a rapidly growing following and two independently released 7-inch singles, both produced by Ramones producer and co-songwriter Daniel Rey, and Andy Shernoff of the Dictators. They released their first and only album for Chrysalis almost a year later, which created a huge buzz within the music industry. But just as the momentum was really beginning to build, EMI Records (the parent company of Chrysalis) came under new management and the new regime at EMI apparently refused to promote the band or their new CD. By the end of 1995 D Generation had been forced to cancel their contract with Chrysalis and, in the process, the band also bought back the rights to, and the master tapes of their album which they claim to have thrown into New York’s East River, due to their dissatisfaction with the production!
After the band had left Chrysalis they were immediately courted by several major labels. They finally settled on Columbia Records for whom they recorded two albums, No Lunch and Through The Darkness, before calling it a day in April 1999 after experiencing much the same problem as they had with Chrysalis.
Around the same time that their debut album D Generation was being released, Jesse Malin became co-founder of a club called Coney Island High situated on St. Mark’s Place in New York’s East Village which was to become, over the next five years, one of New York’s rock’n’roll institutions. Coney was founded by musicians for musicians, and strove to create an artist-friendly environment. Joey Ramone, one of D Generation's most vocal supporters right from their early days, would regularly frequent Coney as did most of the D Generation band members, with Howie Pyro (D Generation's bassist) often DJing at the club. With a capacity of only 500 people it managed to compete with New York’s large corporate venues, and soon, when the big American touring acts would stop off in the city, they were snubbing the concert halls in favour of far cooler Coney. But in the summer of 1999 the U.S. Trustee placed a padlock on the door as part of the city’s current crackdown on night life and the club was closed forever. Jesse Malin stated at the time, expressing the same passion as he did in D Generation, “this was a labour of love. We were happy just to break even. It’s just depressing to see the business assaulted by a bureaucracy.” The closure of Coney Island High closely followed the break up of D Generation who played their final show at Coney on April 24th 1999.
There is no doubt of what D Generation’s epitaph will read. Taken from ‘Guitar Mafia’, one of their earliest compositions, they certainly saw their own fate right from the very start when they wrote: “The Guitar Mafia pays me, ROCK’N’ROLL HAS BETRAYED ME, Jesus can’t even find the truth, the tattoos fade like lovers do.”