Tyler Vile Gets The Real Lowdown From
Punk Globe: Hey Doug, thanks for doing this interview. Tell us a bit about yourself and The Generators.
Doug Dagger: Well I am 43 years old, I was raised in New York City, but moved out to Los Angeles in the late Seventies. I was turned onto to Punk Rock from my cousin, who was one of the early Huntington Beach surf punks who would frequent old clubs like the Cuckoos Nest. I was swept away into the early 80s LA Punk scene, and found myself becoming involved with everything I should have stayed away from likes drugs, and gangs. More or less I am very fortunate to still be around today, and somehow during all of this madness I have been playing music, and releasing records now for nearly 30 years.
Punk Globe: So you were 16 when you started Doug and the Slugz, right? Did older punk bands in L.A. support you guys? What was that relationship like?
Doug Dagger: Yeah I was around 16 years of age when I started singing for Doug and the Slugz, my first kid Punk Rock band. We were opening up for bands like Ill Repute, Mad Parade, Decry, and The Abandoned. We made a few demo tapes, but unfortunately we never got picked up by a small Punk Label, or had the financial resources to print them up on our own. We were all really young, we were definitely one of the younger bands that were playing on most of these Punk shows. Our relationship with each other was great. We were all kids just playing music, and having a good time. I think their was times we took it serious and other times we were just being typical 16 year olds.
Punk Globe: Iron Cross from Baltimore were also one of America's first Oi! bands, did you ever cross paths with them when you were playing with The Slugz?
Doug Dagger: Yeah I remember first hearing Iron Cross on a Dischord compilation back in those days. In 1982 I was constantly frequenting a local record store who was bringing in all the early OI Punk records from bands like The 4 Skins, and The Business. I became inspired by the sound and by the look of these bands. Very few people in Los Angeles at that time were wearing Bomber Jackets, Bleached out Levi Jeans, and Fred Perry shirts. Overnight I removed all my Black Flag, and Circle Jerks Records from the top of the pile to the bottom of the pile. I was so inspired by the Oi Punk stuff, even though it was going on thousands of miles away it seemed to be so much more relevant to me then what bands in Southern California were doing at the time. I was a pretty angry kid, and the music that was coming out of Manchester England, or London at that time seemed to make much more sense to me.
Punk Globe: There's a more recent band from Baltimore called Double Dagger, have you heard of them? I actually undid a typo where I had your name as "Dougle Dagger." Sorry for the mix up, but you're in good company with them.
Doug Dagger: Yeah I never heard of them, but I guess I will have to check them out.
Punk Globe: Between Doug and the Slugz and The Generators, you were in a band called Schleprock, which garnered some attention from MTV, right? How did you react to that taste of fame?
Doug Dagger: Well the fame if you want to call it that was pretty short lived. Schleprock had started in 1989, and we did a lot of touring over a period of eight years across the United States as well as Europe and Australia. We climbed our way up with hard work, and wound up supporting so many of the bigger bands through out the nineties like Rancid, Green Day, Sublime, and Face To Face. We eventually wound up on getting signed to Warner Brothers Records in 1996. We got a video on heavy rotation on MTV and everything seemed to be going great until our band self destructed due to drug use and personal meltdowns. It kind of sucked, but it never really affected me too bad to be honest. I have always just dusted myself off and picked myself back up again.
Punk Globe: You've had old friends from Doug and the Slugz and Schleprock join you in The Generators, so how have those relationships changed over time? Were they ever strained by the break up of either band?
Doug Dagger: My long time relationships with Mike Snow and Sean Romin my guitar players have had their ups and downs over the 20-25 year relationships, but it seems that the older we have all become that we have cherished the long history that we have had together. Being band mates, and having to deal with the hardships that come with touring and making records sometimes can strain those friendships, but I think we know each other so well that we understand that finding common ground as well having good communication is key to keeping things healthy.
Punk Globe: How is your songwriting process affected by those old friendships?
Doug Dagger: Well, it makes things a lot easier, as we know what to expect from one another. I kind of know what those guys are going to bring to the table when it is time to write music. I might have an idea in my head, and kind of know which guy to bring that idea too to make it come across correctly, as they both have a different style to their guitar playing. That tends to make it better, so making a record with two ,or three guys makes the record more well rounded and less one sided. We are able to find a good balance with all that, and I think it shows in the latest record "Last Of The Pariahs.
Punk Globe: Your music was featured in the documentary Meditate and Destroy about Noah Levine a few years ago, right? Does anyone in the band go to his meditation sessions?
Doug Dagger: No not anyone currently in the band, our old bass player who is still a great friend of mine was involved with all the Punk Dharma stuff, but I never followed it. Looking back on things maybe I should have, as that might have assisted me when all the shit would hit the fan in my life. I reverted to actually do the exact opposite and would just study in the school of self destruction, which as we know never really works out to well, hahah, but I do respect Noah Levine, because his beliefs, and teachings are helping people during good and bad times, so that is great. The Producers heard our songs and felt that the lyrics as well as the music were a good fit to be put into there documentary. I am glad we assisted in making there project come to life.
Punk Globe: There's a song on your new album about your reunion with your son after a twenty-one year separation, how did you come to find him and how did you feel when you saw him for the first time in such a long time?
Doug Dagger: This story is an extremely emotional one for me, so about 3 days after I finally found him I wrote the lyrics to the song "Angels Looking Down". I lost my Son in the spring of 1989. He was given away in an adoption, which I tried to stop, but was unsuccessful to stop it due to the fact I was involved with gangs at that time in my life, and the judge, or the lawyers as well as the biological mother felt I was unfit as well as my family was unfit to take him. It was a tragedy in my life, and I was told I would not get to see him until he was an adult. I tried to look for him but the City Of Los Angeles as well as the State of California would not help me, and at times told me to leave it alone. I had no idea where he was and was told he was taken to another state. I never stopped looking and finally found him last X Mas, and now he lives with me, and it turns out he loves Punk Rock! I never take my relationship with him for granted. I love him a lot.
Punk Globe: Is songwriting your main outlet to deal with emotions that are otherwise hard to convey?
Doug Dagger: Well whomever knows me knows that I try to pride myself on communication. I believe that communication is key to everything. So I am not one to be withdrawn when it comes to my feelings, or opinions. I can talk about it, or sing about it, it really makes no difference to me. I guess it has always been an outlet for my emotions, but I have never seen like that. As long as I can remember I have been jumping around the stage and singing. Sometimes I wish I never got started, hahah, but this is who I am , and I have come to accept that this is one of my purposes in my life. I obviously was meant to do this, and at the end of the day, I would not have it any other way.
Punk Globe: How did you come to work with Darron and DC Jam Records?
Doug Dagger: I was introduced to Darron from DC Jam by our old drummer. Darron had conveyed to him that he was a fan of the band, and was interested in working with The Generators. I stayed in communication with him, and told him once we were ready to do another record we can try to make it happen together. He works extremely hard and believes in all of his bands, as well as fights for their success. I am extremely happy to call DC Jam Records, The Generators home in the USA.
Punk Globe: Having been on both major and independent labels, would you say that the size of the label affects the band's sound at all?
Doug Dagger: It really never has affected me personally from doing anything different. I have tried to stay consistent with my music. When I was on a major label they never tried to water the songs down to make them any more commercial. To be honest when I was on Warner Brothers, they actually wanted me to make the band even more Punk! So when I hear the stories about Major labels controlling a bands sound, that just blows me away, because I witnessed the exact opposite.
Punk Globe: You're playing in Germany in September, right? Have you played there before? If so, what's your relationship like with the fans there?
Doug Dagger: We have toured Europe now 9 times, so things are always really good for us there. We have a long history of playing there, and have built up a pretty good fan base. We keep going back once or twice a year, so that must mean we are treated well there. The fans are always great there. They are true music lovers, and I think that is why so many American bands are always touring there.
Punk Globe: Are you planning a US tour anytime soon?
Doug Dagger: Well we have some plans towards Fall 2011 to head through the Southwest and make our way down to Texas. We also are planning another return to the Northwest USA as well by the end of the year. Maybe early 2012 to return to the East Coast, I guess we will see how things go.
Punk Globe: What's the biggest inspiration for the band to keep going?
Doug Dagger: For me personally it would have to be making records and watching ideas come to life. That inspires me to keep striving for more. Its amazing when you are able to put your music out into the world, and see people liking it, and understanding it too. You know when you play in a band as many people who are rooting for your success there are twice as many people out there wishing you failure. The world can be a cold and callous place, and you have to understand that so you can charter yourself through the stormy seas as well as the calm waters.
Punk Globe: Thanks for the interview, Doug. Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Doug Dagger: I guess for me to make any suggestions in being in a band, especially with Punk music it would be, if you want any kind of success at all you have to hang around for a while. You have to get in the trenches and endure everything that is handed to you, good or bad. You have to be able to accept rejection. If you can handle that, then you can handle pretty much of anything the music world has to offer you.