As part of D Generation, Jesse Malin kept the spirit of the '70s alive during the height of grunge. It was a valiant struggle, earning D Generation a cult following and some positive notices, but the group had difficulty breaking outside of their native New York. Malin did better as a solo artist, realigning himself with the rawer side of Americana in the 2000s, then working as a rock & roll troubadour, bashing out albums and earnest concerts on a regular basis.
Born in Queens on January 26, 1968, Malin began playing guitar, joining the hardcore punk band Heart Attack as a vocalist and guitarist when he was 12 years old. Over the next four years, Heart Attack spit out a single and a pair of EPs, and Malin formed a lasting bond with Danny Sage. The duo formed D Generation in 1991, reviving the sound of '70s sleaze and punk with a special emphasis on the New York Dolls.
Over the course of the '90s, D Generation released three albums, with their major-label pushing the band toward a success that never quite materialized.
Following D Generation's breakup, Malin threw himself into writing songs in the vein of maverick singer/songwriters, looking at the likes of Neil Young and Tom Waits for inspiration. Ryan Adams, who'd recently left his group Whiskeytown and was gaining fame as a singer/songwriter himself, headed into the studio with Malin to produce The Fine Art of Self Destruction, Malin's solo debut. Appearing in the U.K. in October 2002, the record received some buzz, helping its lead single, "Queen of the Underworld," chart; the LP would later receive a nomination for the Shortlist Music Prize. It received stateside release from Artemis Records in January 2003, and Malin supported the record with tours on both sides of the Atlantic. He also began popping up on tribute albums that raised his profile, including contributing a version of "Hungry Heart" to the benefit album Light of Day: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen. During this busy 2003, Malin and Adams also indulged in a hardcore punk side project called the Finger, recording the album We Are Fuck You.