The Generators (Doug Dagger)

Interviews | By on Sep 26th, 2012

The Generators are playing the West Coast in October in support of their latest album Last of the Pariahs. It’s a great album if you haven’t heard it yet! Steven Bauer sent over some questions to lead singer Doug Dagger to answer and this is what we got back. Read the interview below and be sure to visit www.the-generators.com to find out when the band will be playing in your city!

Your upcoming tour kicks off at Gilman Street, is there something a little extra special about playing there?
Starting off at Gilman was just a coincidence actually, but the strange thing about it is, that for many years Gilman Street Warehouse was the venue I would kick tours off at. So in some way or another, things do repeat themselves. Even though I am an Angelino, and not from Northern California, Gilman holds a good place in my heart. I was playing, and hanging out at that venue when bands like Green Day, or Rancid were starting out. Billie Jo Armstrong even helped my old band Schleprock stage roadie one night while we were playing there. I was outside one night speaking with Mike Dirnt as well about what major label Green Day were maybe going to go with, as there was a bidding war going on for them. I also remember Tim Armstrong jumping in our old Chevy Van, and putting little paper stickers on the inside walls that said Rancid. I asked him what it was, and he said that was the name of his new band. I did not even know who he was!! We actually wanted him out of our van, because we were drinking beer in there, and did not want the Berkeley Police, nor the kids at Gilman to know we were partying outside the venue. We were banned from Gilman for a little while because we would get drunk on the side of the venue, and the kids who were running the place would get all flipped out. That was normal for us, because back in the early 80’s in the L.A. punk scene, most of the time we wouldn’t even go into see the show. Most of the kids hung out outside the venue and just got all messed up.

So I do have a lot of memories of Gilman Street, and its always a cool thing to re visit a legendary Punk venue like that one.

You are hitting a lot of smaller West Coast towns on your upcoming tour. Have you played all of these towns before or are there some cities you are hitting for the first time?
Some of the smaller town we are stopping off at we have never been into. It’s a good thing, because sometimes there are certain places that have their own music scene, and even though they are off the beaten path stuff is still going on there. Its cool to be able to venture into these smaller towns and hang out with the people there. Some of these places are a few hours from any major city, and they do not get as much bands swinging through, and the response can be great!

DC Jam seems to be a pretty rad label boasting a number of legendary artists. How did you get hooked up with them originally and how has it been working with them?

DC Jam has been great for us! They found out about us through our old drummer, as he was recording some music for them. It took a while to get things sorted out, but I’ve always had a good feeling that they would give us a lot of support, and work the band from a street level. It was what we needed here in the States. We have had so much attention put into our band over seas, so we really needed the focus to be directed into the USA, and it finally now that’s happening. DC Jam has a great roster of bands like The Adicts, Fishbone, TSOL, and JFA so it’s cool to be releasing records along side some of those bands that I have been a fan of for many years!

You are getting ready to go into the studio to record a new full length record. Talk to me about your songwriting and recording process. What is the band’s approach?

I guess each time we go and make a new album the process can be a bit different. It would be nice to say we all get into the studio, and hang out for a few weeks and make music, but with The Generators that is hardly the case. Normally I start hearing melodies in my head and I either start writing lyrics down, or as of lately I grab a guitar and start trying to write to what ever I am hearing, and then I will hang out with one of my guitar players and we will start building on those ideas. The other way that happens sometimes is one of my band members brings me a song, and I will put the lyrics to the song. Either way whenever those things take place the entire band then meets in the studio to complete the process and bring the song to life. Obviously it is not rocket science, but I have to know there is a strong melody behind whatever music I am trying to create. I was raised as a kid in the 1970’s, so all I heard on the radio was bands the classic rock bands, and most of those bands had a lot of melodies to the music, and I am strongly influenced by what I was raised on. Bands like Cheap Trick, Kiss, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, that is where my musical roots start. Before I had a head on collision with Punk Rock I was out on the sidewalks skateboarding hearing the songs in my head of those bands I mentioned.

When you are writing for a record, how does the lyrical content take shape?
It comes into my head like a hurricane. I hear a few words put together, and then I say to myself “Oh those are great words to be used in a song, and sometimes then it triggers a subject that has effected me. Most of my lyric stuff is really about things that have happened to me, or people close to me. I have seen some really bad things, and have had a lot of loss in my own life, so those emotions at time can inspire me to write a song. The best music comes out of the strongest of emotion I always believed. If you have suffered and have endured through a lot of tragedy, then you are probably going to be able to put that into your music in some kind of dark, intense manner. If you have had a lot of fun happy times, well then I guess you are pretty equipped to write some fun up beat music. The best songs come from deep with in and that is where I try to draw some of my stuff from.

In addition to a new record for 2013, you are also putting together a compilation of your music. What is going to be included on this release? After the new record is completed, what are the touring plans for the band? Will you be hitting the East Coast/Midwest?
What is going on at the moment is that The Generators in 2013 are planning to release in Europe a 16 year Anthology record. This album will have many different tracks off of the past Eight records. Some of the songs are the fan favorites, and a few songs are ones that we feel just need to be thrown out on to the streets again. All the original band members will even come together to record one new track for this record, so that means a lot to me. At the same time as this Anthology album, we will be releasing a new batch of songs, for a 10″ Vinyl E.P record. Lots of cool stuff is in the works, that is for sure. Our touring plans are to be going through the Southern portion of the US in Mid January as well as a return to Europe in May of 2013. We do plan to finally return to the East Coast as well, hopefully later in 2013.

15 Years is a long time for a band. How have you managed to stay together that long and what drives you carry on the Generators legacy?
Well some say 15 Years in the Punk world is like 100 years! In all reality I have been singing for Punk bands and touring for the last 30 years, so it feels like a 100 years! I would be lyian>ng if I said it was always easy. There have been some great moments as well as some down right miserable moments. I have seen people come, and go, and throw in the towel to return to their normal lives. The Generators have always been down in the trenches, and I truly believe if you want people in the world of Punk music to know who you are, you just have to hang around. Obviously you have to release records, and get out there as much as you can to let people know about your music. It just takes a long time, and you have to dedicate yourself to whatever you do. That is the name of the game. If you love what you do, you just find a way to keep doing it. I am not the kind of person that gives up easy anyway. If the alternative is to just sit around and go to work every day and wait for your holiday vacation, well forget about it. That seems pretty un eventful to me.

As a collective group, you have lived many lifetimes in the LA Punk Rock scene. What are the biggest similarities and differences from when you started?
Oh man, well times have drastically changed over the years, that is for sure. The early 80’s punk scene was just sometimes off the hook nuts. I have so many insane memories of things that took place back then. It could be a Wednesday night show at a place called S.I.R Studios in Hollywood where a band like TSOL, or Angelic Upstarts were playing, and the next thing you know there’s gangs of kids going toe to toe with the L.A.P.D. It was like kind of normal to be throwing a 40 ounce bottle of beer at a cop car pulling up in front of the venue. Some of these shows and places the kids were hanging out at were just not nice places you would take your Grandmother to!! After the early 1980’s scene died, things got strange, bands started looking like Guns & Roses and the hair metal scene just kinda wiped the punk scene out. It was like a meteor fell out of the sky and all the punkers were killed off like the Dinosaurs. It was a weird time, but then came the Nineties, where punk was not so angry anymore! Bands like All, and Green Day became really popular, and the gigs became less violent. It was like the Dark ages were gone and we moved into a Renaissance period. Times were good, but as we all know good times unfortunately never last and punk got to big for itself as it became saturated into every suburban home. So the Nineties left us, and now things are kind of hard to figure out for me I guess. There is still some energy, but it’s hit, or miss. People seem way more jaded, and not very effected by what is happening. It will be interesting to see how the punk music scene survives from here on out.

What sort of non-musical influences does the band draw from?
I think it is different for every member. I know the guitar players grab influence from a lot of 1960’s music like The Kinks, or The Who, and The Stones. Like I mentioned before I was raised on bands like Kiss, and Cheap Trick, but when it comes to Punk Rock its probably all about bands like The Ramones, The Clash, Black Flag, The Descendents, and Sham 69. We obviously are So Cal guys so we tend have melodic influences from bands like Social Distortion, Bad Religion, The Adolescents. Those were the bands we were going to see when we were kids. Its in our Punk DNA to be influenced by what we were listening to and getting our aggression out on.

What do you guys do outside of the band?
Well we all work our asses off!! Our new Drummer Greg is a tattooist. Sean the Guitarist is a Drug Rehab counselor, Mike Snow used to be a truck driver, Manny our amazing Bass player own his own Punk Rock store, and I have my own clothing business. We are extremely busy guys, that is for sure!

Ok, so I have some quick lightning round questions:
1. First punk memory – Sex Pistols!!!
2. First album you bought with your own money – Circle Jerks – Group Sex
3. Favorite record when you were 16 years old – Blitz – Never Surrender
4. First show you attended – 1981 – DOA, TSOL
5. Last show you attended (not counting your own band’s shows) – GV30 – The Descendents, The Dickies, Vandals
6. Tell me one thing about you that no one would ever expect – Quiet & Isolated

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