Long-running punks The Generators are back with the spirited, hard-hitting 'The Deconstruction Of Dreams,' a six-song 12” vinyl EP/mini CD in Europe on Concrete Jungle in April, which should also soon be out soon in the U.S. In conjunction with the release of their new material the band are also currently hitting the road to play in the West this month and then they’ll be ready for a month-long Europe trek in May. Here, frontman Doug Kane discusses the new record, the band’s history, his introduction into punk and the (non)danger in punk nowadays.
Doug: You’re in Long Island?
Janelle: Yeah… It’s like 20 degrees…
Is it? Ouch.
Were you always from L.A. or did you move there?
No, I’m from NY. I was born in the city, lived in Queens, I was out on the Island for a little bit. I left there when I was just a kid, I got over to L.A. when I was just 11. I wouldn’t go back there to live after being here for so long. I’m an Angelino now. I have a New York heart, but I’m an L.A. boy.
I was thankful you sent some of the newer tracks. Is that out already in Europe?
April 19. We just got out of the studio pretty much right after I sent you that music we just got done, finishing the recording. It’s a six-song record, four brand new songs and two live songs and it’s coming out on a 12-inch vinyl and they’re also doing a CD mini disc. It’s kinda cool ‘cause we spent so many years just releasing so many CDs and not releasing a lot of EPs. Especially doing punk rock, just the history of that music itself, when I was a kid, the 7”s were what you wanted. It’s cool and the main focus this time around was to do a vinyl record.
Are they doing any special colors?
I think they’re doing red vinyl. But maybe after the first thousand they’ll change up the colors. It’s cool though, we recorded the new songs and we’re happy about the new music. It’s always good after two years to go back in the studio and hope you’re still being creative and making some good recordings.
One more thing, when it comes out in the U.S. is it on a different label?
It’ll be out in the U.S. through that label. I tried to get a licensing thing through DC-Jam but we just couldn’t work it out. The distributor here in America, they wanted the record, but the main thing to do this recording was because we have a good tour going on over there and we needed to kinda have something to back up the tour that we were doing. So that was the main thing. I could’ve given it to the American label, they wanted it, but they were like, You gotta take care of yourself over there and then we’ll do a record later in the year. Yeah, so it’ll be over here as an import.
I know I wrote you saying, “Yeah, we talked before.” But I didn’t remember exactly what we talked about! But I looked back at the interview we did and I asked something about, ‘cause it was when 'Excess, Betrayal…And Our Dearly Departed' finally came out in the U.S. and I kinda asked about why do you do so much in Europe, and you basically said that it’s a good thing over there, the tours and everything.
We created a bigger fanbase over there for ourselves. It’s a double-edged sword ‘cause now I’m kinda making up for it here in the States and we’re putting in a lot of hard work. We’re finally catching some momentum here, but anyway, we’ll make a new record for DC-Jam by the end of the year.
You’ve been with a lot of different labels. Sailor’s Grave and TKO.
Yeah, especially here in the States because the record labels have just – well, everywhere, they’ve just suffered. [Also] we weren’t doing enough touring so it became less of a priority. So but we finally got our new label here with DC-Jam and I’m stoked to be with them and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be trying to release a record with them.
So have you been writing new stuff? Or are you one of those people who is always writing?!
It’s pretty easy for us, I think. We do have some songs in like a vault that we worked on before so I think what will probably happen is after this summer is over we might take a little break because we were just going at it. Even though we haven’t been on the East Coast, we’ve been going at it hard on the West Coast and I leave on Thursday to go do the Southwest for 10 days and a Europe tour so I think when we get done with Europe we’ll take a break and we’ll work on trying to put together songs for DC-Jam.
What about this [last record]? How long had you worked on those songs?
Pretty quick. I think we spent maybe three times in the rehearsal studio. Two of the songs I wrote with the guitar player and another song one of the guitar player’s brought to me and the other song that last one, “Wrong Side Of The Tracks,” my guitar player brought that song. But it all happened pretty quick.
And I’m ignorant. [Laughs] But I don’t know if it’s the same line-up since the last time we talked…
No! I got a brand new rhythm section. A lot of the guys leave because we’re not a big, big band, so it’s kinda like if I wanna take off for a couple of weeks and guys start losing their jobs so it’s tough. All The Generators are all 40-year-olds.
You put out something what two years ago?
Yeah, that was on DC-Jam. 'The Last Of The Pariahs.' That was our latest full-length record.
Yeah, I didn’t hear that, the last I heard was 'Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea' and 'The Winter Of Discontent' and those were after they were out in Europe.
Yeah, and we usually put out a record every two years. It’s pretty kind of normal for us to do that. That takes a lot of energy sometimes, every two years for the last 16 years. When you think about it… So yeah, I think we’re trying to space that out a little bit more because it’s getting a little more difficult to keep up that schedule.
Even you saying doing this for so long, you still have that love for it, writing and recording, ‘cause a lot of people don’t last.
Oh yeah, you gotta have love for it ‘cause what do they say? Sometimes it’s doing the impossible for the ungrateful. You gotta have a lot of love and passion, just keep trying to stick it out. That’s the reason I do it, because I love what I do. I’ve been doing this since I was 15 years old, singing in punk bands. That’s just who I am. Sometimes I’d like to get away from it, really I would, but that’s just what I do. I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s really hard to depart from what you’ve been doing since you were a boy.
Yeah, the last time we talked you said you’ve been in punk bands since 1983, that’s 30 years! [Laughs]
Exactly. And being on stage and touring and putting out records. So yeah I keep telling myself I gotta take a break, so hopefully I really mean it this time. At least take a break from it for six months or whatever it is, do something else with myself, and then it’s there to go back to.
Do you have a career outside this?
Yeah, I own a small business. I have a uniform company that I do. If I was just doing the punk-rock stuff I’d have to constantly be out on tour. I try to make a living. I did live my life like that for a while, where I was out on the road for eight months a year and hardly ever home. And I’m not really sure that’s what I wanna do with myself. That really affects guys. It’s really tough to be out there in a van or even a bus, just constantly performing night after night after night. So it’s tiring. Yeah, I have a life at home and my life’s pretty good at home.
That’s even, one of the guys I talked to recently – I don’t know if you’ve played with them, probably – Down By Law.
Dave Smalley, and he was basically, I asked are you doing this band full time now? And he’s like it’s hard when you have kids and you don’t wanna be away all the time. And that totally makes sense. When you’re younger, teens and 20s, it’s easier to just hit the road.
Oh for sure. You have responsibilities and you can’t meet your responsibilities by being in punk rock. You have some big boy decisions to make so you have to find a balance. Down By Law’s on my label. He just did a big tour. So you just gotta find a balance and if it works out, you have to go out on tour and know you have your life at home. A lot of bands in general, not just my band, any rock ‘n’ roll band, a lot of these musicians are struggling to do what they do. It’s one of those things: Be careful what you wish for because you might get it. Sometimes it’s not so easy living your life, entertaining every night.
Oh my god and then [Dave] started doing DYS again, and you’re a child of the ‘80s so you know all that!
Oh yeah. I know they came out here and played in Long Beach. And he does some things with ALL. I loved when he sang for ALL and Dag Nasty. I love the Dag Nasty stuff.
More about this record, the last time we talked I brought up that there were more melancholy songs and I don’t get that with this one. You said at the time it was kind of a hard time in your life, for a year or two and it comes out in the music. So what was the influence for some of these songs?
There’s a song on there called “Sweet Misery,” which is I had a really rough summer. I got hurt, I had to cancel a European tour. I really damaged my shoulder and that got me caught up on painkillers for two months and I had to have two surgeries. I felt pretty beat up. So “Sweet Misery” kinda relates to what I was going through at that time. “Wrong Side Of The Tracks,” that song, I had to kinda dig deep and bring back how I felt with all the kids in my neighborhood growing up, punk rockers, skinhead kids, so that song’s about that. “The Day Love Died,” there are still songs here that not necessarily are dark like some of the stuff I’ve written previously. Our band’s kinda weird; sometimes we have pretty dark music and then other times you get this kinda ’77 punk and that’s what we’ve been doing all along. It’s always good that I try to reconnect my band back with The Generators’ roots ‘cause it started out as really a ’77 kind of sound. The influences were Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, The Damned. I try to stay in tune with that so for our older audience always goes I haven’t forgotten why you guys got into this band, here’s a song or two for you. And for the younger kids who got into us during 'Excess Betrayal...' or 'The Winter Of Discontent,' it’s like, here’s the song maybe where you can recognize as, oh that’s a Generators song. So the life’s pretty good right now. I’m not complaining! I’d rather be having my music a little more upbeat than obviously having hard-time stuff so things are pretty good right now.
That’s good. And like you said, harking back to the ’77 sound and you’ve been in bands since the early-‘80s, I always like to ask people who’ve been in the scene for a good amount of time, you must’ve seen some crazy shows back then! But I was just wondering how you first got into the whole thing, punk and hardcore.
My cousin was one of the early Huntington Beach surf punks and I’m an L.A. boy, I’m more of a city boy. But he lived down [there] and I’d go out and he’d go to one of the first clubs down there and see Black Flag in their early days and TSOL and The Adolescents. I went to his house and I walked into his room – I was only I think maybe 12 years old, I just got to the West Coast and he had Sex Pistols playing and that was it for me. I heard the Sex Pistols and I was like, “What the fuck is this?!” And after that I went back home and I think I went out and bought Circle Jerks 'Group Sex' and those records had come out and it wasn’t long – everthing happened so quick. But when you’re a kid it seemed like forever, but it probably was just a couple of months and my first show was 1980, ’81 to see D.O.A. and TSOL. So that was my first show.
[Talking about FEAR]
To go see FEAR was pretty violent, for sure. The main thing I remember was when you went to these punk shows it was nothing like going to a punk show today. It was going to be really, really violent, people beating the shit out of each other inside the club. And it was pretty scary. And it got gradually worse from a period of four years where the scene would just get worse and worse and worse, and the next thing you know, by 1984, ’85 you got the Olympic Auditorium going off and there was like 2000 kids watching GBH. There was 20 on 20 and there were knives and bats. And then riots going off and the police. I tell people it was normal to walk out of a club and some kid would just hit a 40oz. bottle on an LAPD car when it drove by. It sounds normal, like he just threw a bottle, the cop pulls over, and a bunch of other cops pull over and put on their riot gear. They start going after all the kids and the kids start brawling with them. You just don’t see stuff like that. Those were crazy times.
Like I was born in ’80, so I missed that initial era and I would go to CB’s and years before it closed there was this big fest, they had Antidote and Kraut and MDC, this three-day event. And the second night, Saturday, The Adicts played and it was packed and I’m sure you played CB’s, right?
Yeah, I did. It was a great place. I was lucky and fortunate to have played there.
Did you play with Schleprock?
Schleprock went through there once, we also played there with The Generators, the closing, we played with the reformation of The Dead Kennedys, it was like the last two weeks and they had all those bands.
Oh! Right okay.
That was great and that sucks that that place is gone.
Yeah. They tried to keep it open. Even Bloomberg (!) came out to try to help it. Now you go by there and you can’t even tell it ever existed. The Bowery was always so… The methadone clinic right there…
I remember the Bowery as a little kid, my dad used to go by there. New York has totally changed.
But I was just going to say, this Viva Le Punk Fest, 2003, The Adicts played the second night and some guy actually got [stabbed]. It was so weird, ‘cause I never really saw that happen. Like you said nowadays it’s more…
Safe… Everywhere in general. You know you’ve seen some violence at punk shows. That’s how it was back then, that was normal.
You always hear those old stories and it’s like, okay… Another one I went to, British Invasion in 2006 in San Bernardino.
Yeah, we were supposed to go out there and there was a riot.
They had it on CNN. I remember I’m out there and the next day my dad calls me, he saw something about it and some stupid crap went on, I don’t know if it was skinheads, but some stupid people starting crap and the cops like dropped tear gas. I was watching Broken Bones. I never saw them before, that was awesome, and all the sudden that happened. I’d never been in a tear gas attack before so I didn’t know what was going on. Then they had helicopters. It was so weird.
I heard about it. I was on my way out there. That’s what happened. I was actually on the freeway…
You were supposed to play? Or just to hang out?
I was going out there to hang out.
Exactly. Don’t even come out here because a bunch of this stuff is going on here. Fortunately I was about an hour from where I live and I turned around. These things happen a lot around here. There was just a murder here at a punk show. We were on the road, we went to play Reno and Las Vegas and there was a murder at a place called The Barn, an old German place, they’ve been doing punk shows even since the ‘80s. I don’t know if Angry Samoans played, one of these bands, and there was a shooting that went out into the parking lot and someone got killed and another person was critically injured. These things are still happening. As I get older, that kind of thing concerns me ‘cause I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t wanna be involved in that nonsense. We played recently and there was some Nazi skinheads at our show. It really bothered me. What are these people doing here? I wanted to just not play ‘cause I don’t wanna play for these people and fortunately they left right before we played. It’s still punk rock and it is what it is. I guess if it was too safe it wouldn’t be what it is.
It sounds weird but I’m like, at least there’s still that little bit of danger.
Yeah, exactly. ‘Cause then it’d be what, the Mickey Mouse Club.