Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, Howie. D Generation has announced it's return to the stage after well over 10 years away. How did the reunion come about?
Howie Pyro: We are asked all the time, but we are busy & it all just came together...schedule, great offers financially & ya know I get tons of messages here on Facebook & kids coming up to me when I'm out always asking about D Generation, so it seems like a good time right now.
CM: I had the the pleasure of interviewing Danny Sage a couple months back. And I told him that, in my opinion, D Gen was one of those great bands that should have been huge, but kinda fell through the cracks. Do you feel maybe with a resurgence in the whole punk scene over the last few years, this could be the bands time to really shine and show the world what they missed out on the first time around?
Thanks. We were not of our time...a bit earlier or later we would have been much bigger...but we did have an impact & people loved the band as well as most of our favorite bands who were fans of the band & we got to tour with most of those bands (Ramones, Kiss, etc...). We will do that (really shine and show the world what they missed out on the first time around) either way or there's no reason to play. As far as a resurgence in the whole punk scene over the last few years, I didn't notice that. Most of my favorite bands in history are ones that fell through the cracks & were appreciated later so we're in good company.
CM: Let's talk about your humble beginnings growing up in New York and coming of age in the early days of punk. What was it like being a part of a scene and town that broke the Ramones, Dictators, Blondie, New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers among others?
HP: It was amazing of course. You really knew you were in a historical moment, every moment...I had the feeling to really know this some how & save every scrap of paper, ticket, flyer, matchbook, phone number, etc etc...because I KNEW...and that has served me well. Check it all out in the book PUNK IS DEAD, PUNK IS EVERYTHING from Ginko Press, which features a lot of the stuff I have saved. Also in that new Max's Kansas City book.
CM: I saw a picture of you, years ago, that was taking in the late 70's. I believe the picture was taken in either the Chelsea or next door to it. It's you and 2 other guy's. And one guy is lighting the other guy's hair on fire with a lighter. I've always wanted to know...what the hell was that all about?
HP: That was in the door way of a homeless bum hotel called the palace hotel on the Bowery just next door to CBGB...we would convince long haired kids that it was the thing to do, to let us burn their hair off. And it was. It was actually a haircutting method our friend Champ used at a punk shop called Revenge (the roughest & realest early New York punk store) called the Singe cut. hahaha...
CM: I'm sure there are many, but what are some of your personal musical influences?
HP: I have always loved crazy music that is obscure and mysterious & have spent my life collecting old rockabilly/surf/garage/r&b/soul records that are a bit left of center & have been connecting the historical dots with a group of ever widening friends like the good folks at Norton Records & the WFMU Rock 'N' Soul Ichiban blog...more known ones as well like Question Mark & The Mysterians, The Seeds, Stones, Kinks, etc. Musically I really was influenced by early glitter rock like The Sweet, Slade & also Alice Cooper & David Bowie, New York Dolls, Black Sabbath, Captain Beefheart, T Rex, all the obvious early punk stuff that changed my life completely (The Heartbreakers, Wayne County, The Fast, Sex Pistols, Damned, Slaughter & The Dogs, etc.). Later stuff (Gun Club who I played with briefly, Jesus & Mary Chain, etc.) also influenced me. Musically & lifestyle wise friends like Genesis P Orridge who revolutionized (and still do) the world with their very actions and bands Throbbing Gristle & Psychic TV. But the most influential band, if I could wrap all of these things into one nutshell, would be THE CRAMPS.
CM: How did you get involved in D Generation?
HP: I started it with Jesse just out of boredom & disgust with what was going on at that time musically. We were all good friends on different levels before that & were trying to play together in a couple of different formations before this came about.
CM: After the bands split, you and former D Gen guitarist Todd Youth joined Danzig. In my opinion, that was the best line-up of that band since the original. What was it like playing with Glenn?
HP: First I made a band called PCP Highway with Jesse, then Danzig. Glenn was really great to work with...it was my first ever time being in someone else's band & that was great! He is super cool if you are and not cool if you are a jerk, just like everyone else. He was very generous, fun, and the best person I have ever "worked for". We shopped our way around the world a few times over...and worshiped Satan, of course.
CM: Was Glenn an easy guy to be in a band with? And why did you part ways with him after only a short time?
HP: That is the same question as above...I left cuz we made a side project that got signed to capitol records & I had dollar signs in my eyes..
CM: Between your time in Danzig and the D Gen reunion what were you up to? Did you record any music in that time?
HP: I am always busy...I have played with Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Gun Club, Nick Cave & Bad Seeds) and remixed something for him that is on his new record on In The Red Records (a cool album of 45s that come in a box) I did that under the name The Illuminoids. There is Illuminoids stuff on YouTube.
I'm also on Kid's new live album as I did the introduction for the show. I have a very popular crazy radio show called INTOXICA on a station LUXURIAMUSIC.COM...there is an archive of old shows online HERE & it is updated weekly.
I have all kinds of cool guests & play tons of those old records I spoke about earlier. Segments of my radio show will soon be featured on WFMU's ROCK 'N' SOUL ICHIBAN webstream. Easily the coolest 24 hour radio meltdown ever. There is an iPhone app & you can take it with you wherever you go, and you should! You can check that website out HERE.
I have played on a couple of Jesse's solo records & worked on movies & TV music,I loan stuff from my massive collection of pop culture memorabilia for books, movie theaters, blogs, even museums. I also deejay all over the world at big events like the Burlesque Hall of Fame/Miss Exotic World weekend, huge insane parties in Walla Walla Washington for Charles Smith/K Vintners, the premier party for the TV show Madmen, Christina Aguilera's birthday party, Cramps shows, I do a night every Wednesday at The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, even Genesis P Orridge's induction into Santerian Priesthood...so I keep busy.
CM: With the upcoming shows, do you think there is a possibility of a new D Generation album? Has this idea been kicked around at all?
HP: We are just trying to get this first part (these gigs) together and make it as perfect as possible for the audiences & the rest will follow organically, or not. A greatest "hits" type compilation of all our records including unreleased stuff is a possibility.
CM: Is there a website that you would like to plug? A place where fans can find out what you're up to, get news on the up coming shows, releases and merch?
HP: I have plugged a couple above...there is an official Facebook page for D Generation HERE
and a new website, which is just being put together now, but has info on it HERE
and pages for Intoxica Radio easily found on Facebook (and MySpace, though I don't check that anymore really). THIS is the main one.
CM: Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass, Howie. I'm stoked to see you guy's in Chicago this fall. It's been way too long, and I am glad to see the band back in action. Thanks again.
HP: Thank you.