Despite a habit for staying under the radar and out of the mainstream, Jesse Malin is certainly a member of the elite group of punk rock legends who hail from New York. Thursday night, the former-D-Generation-frontman-turned-solo-rock-troubadour performs live with a backing band at Fenway rock club Church (relocated from Somerville’s Thunder Road, which is still under construction) to hype this year’s excellent new LP New York Before The War, out now via One Little Indian Records.
The always-affable Malin chatted about D Generation’s 10-inch double-sided single “Queens Of A/Piece Of The Action” that’ll be released on April 18’s Record Store Day, what it was like for the band getting back into the studio to put out their first full-length album in 15 years, and Malin’s most recent solo effort.
Rob Duguay: Your D Generation Record Store Day vinyl will be the band’s first release since Through The Darkness back in 1999. Along with another full length that’s due out later this year, what was it like going back into the studio with the band after 15 years?
Jesse Malin: It was like as if nothing changed. Some things may have been a little different with some people who grew up a tiny bit, while others became the same people instantly once we were there. There’s a magic with the five of us, they’re guys that I grew up with. They mean a lot to me and they’re family, it’s like a five-headed marriage where it can get very volatile and uncomfortable while it also can be very magical and exciting. I think all of that makes a good combination for doing some fucked up rock and roll.
I can definitely see all of that encompassing some very intense and enjoyable recording sessions. You’ve done some work with acclaimed singer-songwriter Ryan Adams during your career, so what is it like working with Adams when it comes to him being a producer?
He did my first solo album, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction, and it’s my favorite record that I’ve ever made. We did it in five days, Ryan is really talented, really supportive and really into keeping it raw and real. He likes to give a taste of what the artist would be like live, not making it too over produced. Putting you in a situation where you’re maybe just a little bit outside of your comfort zone just to get something real & spontaneous.
I’ve actually been hearing that a lot lately from artists when it comes to recording, they prefer to have something be spontaneous and live in the studio rather than having it be layered and structured. So you have this solo show happening at Church in Boston on Thursday. For you personally what do you think the main difference is when it comes to you performing your solo material versus performing with D Generation?
Well, the backing band that I have right now has to be the best band I’ve ever played with. It’s just a total thrill for me, these guys are a super talented, heavy band. Randy Schrager was in The St. Mark’s Social with me, he kills it on the drums. Catherine Popper on bass, Derek Cruz on guitar, Michelle Casillas on keyboards, it’s just really intense.
I like playing acoustic shows solo, but I also like the power of being in a full-blown punk rock band. With D Generation we’re going to go to Spain to play the Azkena Rock Festival coming up soon along with L7, Eagles Of Death Metal, ZZ Top and a ton of other rock bands. In that situation I don’t have a guitar so it’s kind of a different story where I’m using my body more and I’m feeding off of 25 to 30 years of angst ridden friendships.
You mentioned earlier how going back into the studio with D Generation was like nothing changed, when the band reunited back in 2011 was there any rust when it came to playing the old songs again or did everything feel like it was old hat?
It felt like we had a fresh perspective because most of the people coming to the shows were young kids who had never seen us before along with our old fans and the combination made us feel like we had something to prove. A lot had happened in rock and roll and the scene changed in New York City and around the world, we really needed to stand up and show what we had. From being away and then getting back together over 10 years later, you feel the need to be better than you were. The shows, not to sound like a bragger, were better than ever. When you go to places like festivals in Spain, selling out shows in Los Angeles and playing all over America, there’s a lot of pride the band has to not suck.
You don’t want anyone to leave disappointed.
Yea, and we want to show our new girlfriends what we were like.
Now that New York Before The War is out, when can we expect a target date for the new D Generation?
Sometime during the summer we’ll be releasing another single from the album all over the internet and every record store on the planet along with repressing the 10-inch vinyl. There’s no target date for the album just yet but you should expect it to be out before the end of the year.