I had the opportunity to ask guitarist/vocalist Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate some questions about the upcoming reissue of the band’s 1982 debut masterpiece, The Days of Wine and Roses. They sounded so far ahead of their time back in those dark musical days when only the punk and new wave scenes offered any hope for listeners turned off by disco, bad metal, and hair bands. The album, which I reviewed recently, sounds as fresh today as it did back then. As a long time fan of the band, I was thrilled for this chance to interview a musical legend. Read more >>
I don't go out for a solo tour with just an electric guitar and an amplifier every day. Wait - infact, I've NEVER done it before. So, to commemorate my upcoming European solo electric tour, I've pressed up this very limited and numbered (500 copies) CD that I'll have with me along the way. I've chosen some songs that I rarely play as well as a few old favorites, all tunes that seemed to work well in this format. I'm sure there will be many others played and added along the way but this collection gives a pretty good picture of what I'll be doing night to night across the continent.
The front cover is a hand drawn self-portrait of sorts but the inside panel of the digipack is left intentionally blank so that I can draw a new Instant Alternate Cover each night, right there on the spot at the merch table. I'll bring the Sharpies.
I hope that many of you can make it out at some point along the way. It will be a brand new adventure every night!
Happy New Year, everyone. I'm writing this from my home in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, USA, The World. And I emphasize that last part of my personal address. Food from Tibet, Thailand, Columbia, Mexico, India, Ecuador and more beckon from just around the corner. The tiny, bustling and always enticing Terraza 7 club last night featured a Cuban-tinged jazz combo that I watched from beneath the metal grating catwalk on which they played over a bar that was doling out bright red rum concoctions. There's a sense around here of constant travel without straying too far from home.
It's good to be home but it's also good to be on the move.
And there was a lot of movement in 2014. I did more shows with The Baseball Project than any year before and it was also the most active year for The Dream Syndicate since we reunited a couple of years ago. There weren't much in the way of solo shows - a few down at South By Southwest, a few more locally - but that will change in the coming months.
First off, I'll be doing some shows this week opening for Ian Hunter in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano. Just me, an acoustic guitar and my old pal Robert Lloyd adding commentary on mandolin and accordion. And then down below the border for my fourth visit to the Todos Santos Music Festival. I'll be mixing and matching with various pals (mostly from The Baseball Project) during 10 days of gigs that will also include The Jayhawks, Old '97s, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, the Drive By Truckers, Kev'n Kinney and more.
From there it's over to Oslo where I'll be working on music for the fourth season of Dag, easily my favorite show on TV. And that's an unfair tease since, unless you live in Norway, it's impossible to see (I got my subtitled copy of the DVD from the director Øystein Karlsen who used some of my songs in earlier seasons). But it will hopefully get released or maybe even remade here in the States sometime soon so you all can check it out. It's a well-written dark comedy about a misanthropic, agoraphobic couples counselor. And I've been brought on to supply the bulk of the music for the current season. It will be cold, dark and, hence, very productive in Norway in late January.
And then back home to get ready for my upcoming Solo, Electric (words capitalized since it's not only the description but the name of the tour) of Europe in February and March. I'm just finishing a tour-only CD of some of the songs I'll be playing on the tour - there will be only 500 copies and each will have original and unique artwork. But more about that later. I'm excited about the tour since it will give me the chance to revisit and reconfigure old tunes in a new setting.
And then? Back home for a Baseball Project spring training tour in Florida with more dates for the band coming in May. And sometime next year I'll be in the studio with The Dream Syndicate for the first time since 1988. Oh, and a new solo record as well.
But for now? The suitcase will stay in the closet for a few hours more. There are Himalayan snacks down the street and movies to rent. I hope to see you all soon.
The Dream Syndicate US tour begins this week.
Five cities--over the course of 2 months. Hey, after a 25 year layoff, it's nice to take your time.
First up - Portland's Doug Fir on Friday and Seattle's Bumbershoot on Sunday with Atlanta, Brooklyn and LA just down the road.
If we're in your town, come on down. If not, pack your bags. We'll make it worth your while. We promise.
Hi Everyone, I'm really excited that Omnivore Records is putting out the 2 records I made with Spanish producer Paco Loco in 2000 and 2006. Some of you already know about these records and have them in your collection. But since they were only released in Spain, they're still mostly well kept secrets in the rest of the world. Hopefully that will change when Omnivore releases them as a single remastered disc in the US today.Read more about the release
From Yahoo Music: "Steve Wynn has been a busy guy of late. Not only has he revived Paisley Underground legends the Dream Syndicate, he's doing double duty taking the field in the all-star unit known as the Baseball Project. When we had Wynn on the phone recently to talk about the Dream Syndicate jamming with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones as well as the Baseball Project, we also asked him to share a few of his favorite musical memories."
Time moves forward--even when it moves forward in the past. In September of 2012, the Dream Syndicate traveled to Spain to play our first show together since 1988 to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the release of our debut album, "The Days of Wine and Roses." 11 countries and 30 shows later, we're getting ready to embark on a 10-city tour of Europe to mark another 30 year anniversary, to the month in fact, of the release of our second album "Medicine Show." read more...
On that night in 2007 when Scott McCaughey and I were the last stragglers holding up the bar at a New York City party celebrating the induction of REM to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and found ourselves turning to idle chatter about the idea of devoting an entire record to the subject of baseball, I don’t think either of us would have seen our late night notion turning into somewhat of an institution. But here we are. It’s the beginning of spring, seven years later, and our third album is here. And get ready for the title—it’s called 3rd, a nod to one of my most significant numbers in the game (outs, strikes, Babe Ruth’s uniform number). Along with the mail-order/tour-only CD “Broadside Ballads,” that brings us up to about 60 songs that we’ve released celebrating the national pastime. Not quite the same as 150 years of the game itself but getting closer and closer.
And if you ask any of us (and that “us” includes me, Scott, Linda Pitmon, Peter Buck and Mike Mills, the latter who had been touring with us and joined us this time in the studio for full-time bass—ah, those baseball terms again—duties), we would tell you quite candidly, quite hype-free that this is our best yet. A sprawling double-vinyl (and single CD) set, you could even say this is the “London Calling” of baseball. Well, I’ve been saying that, anyway. We recorded much of it live as a five-piece and it sounds like a rocking band of longtime musicians, friends and fans of the game, all of which we are. We’re incredibly proud of the results and will be hitting the road (US only for now—come ON, our pals in Europe, don’t be afraid—it’s only baseball) this summer to spread the word. But for now? It’s getting warmer, spring is in the air and the 2014 season is just getting started so it’s a good time to hit your local mom n’ pop record store or to make a few well-placed clicks and get a copy of 3rd, our last stop before we circle the bases.
It seemed like a pipe dream, one of the impossible variety, something nice in theory but impossible in the real world. But a flurry of emails between members of the Bangles, The Three O'Clock, Rain Parade and those of us in the Dream Syndicate turned into two nights of Paisley Underground revisited fun at the Fillmore in San Francisco and Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood.
The show was the same lineup of a classic gig at the Music Machine back in the summer of 1982, one that I've always thought of as the live epicenter of the groovy scene we had back then and it was so nice to find that everyone was still making great music, getting along so well and open to whatever it took to make a memorable evening for both the fans who attended and the various bands as well.
I'm glad that so many of you were able to attend the shows and, for the rest of you, here is our entire set from the Fonda as well as a clip from the all-star jam encores. Paisley Underground Lives!
Los Angeles, California
Encore Velvets cover
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland recently printed an interview with Steve:
"I'm really proud of the Dream Syndicate and our role in music history," he says. "It makes me think it's a shame if someone hadn't seen us. But it would also a shame is someone would see us and say 'What was the fuss all about?'
"We did something at the time that almost nobody was doing, doing music with a guitar was kind of a radical crazy thing . ... The nice thing about the reunion is that in the '80s we were trying to evolve and get new fans. We don't care about that anymore. We just want to make ourselves happy, and our fans happy. We are what we were."
The Chicago Tribune also featured an interview:
"When we started the band, Kendra and I had this thing where we either wanted to be loved or hated, with nothing in between," he says. "We wanted to make polarizing music, be aggressive and even confrontational. Sometimes we'd try to see how long we could do a song — 40 minutes, 50 minutes — just to amuse ourselves. Or we'd do ridiculous covers of then-current radio songs. It was just bratty behavior by people who were 22 at the time. We were kids."
“When Lou Reed died (on Oct. 27), I was depressed and stunned,” Wynn says. “I spent the first year of my musical life being compared to him, and fighting that, but I realized later it was an honor. It meant a lot that people were getting that spirit out of a new band.”
The Baseball Project - 1976 (Live on KEXP)
Check out details and some great images of this show at The Bowery Electric over at Now I've Heard Eveything.
SB Nation recently named the 10 Best songs about baseball players which included two songs from The Baseball Project.
At number 7 on their list is Panda and the Freak.
Coming in at number 1 is Ichiro Goes to the Moon:
"I originally had this song lower on the list, but the more I listened, the more I realized it might just be the catchiest baseball song ever, excepting maybe "Take Me Out to the Ballgame.""
I knew Dennis (Duck, original drummer) had been into the idea, I knew Mark (Walton, bass player) had been into the idea, and Jason Victor, who’s been playing with me in The Miracle Three for the last fifteen years, he’s played all these songs. He plays them great; he embodies the spirit of what we do. Let’s just do this. Let’s go over to Spain and play the show. If it doesn’t feel right, if the music isn’t right, if the audience doesn’t like it we’ll say it was a fun adventure and that’s the end of that and we’ll book nothing beyond that. So we went and played the show and it was great. We played five shows in Spain and they were all great. The people loved it, the music was good and we had a good time. It felt like a continuation of what we were doing in the ‘80s.
I think our thing now is, keep doing little things and see how long we’re having fun. So, the European tour, that was a blast. We did this, this was a blast. Now we’re taking things as they come along.
To read the full interview, please click here.
I'm sad anytime a great club with a great history closes its doors for good. And there aren't any clubs with a longer or more illustrious history than Maxwell's. Even though I have played about 20 shows there since the first time back in 1983, it seems like I had been reading about the club for years even before THAT first show as a kid poring over issues of New York Rocker at the magazine racks of Los Angeles. I marveled at this mystical epicenter of the Hoboken scene where favorite bands like the dB's and the Feelies and the Bongos were plying their trade and expanding their sound. By the time I played there on the first Dream Syndicate tour I felt like I was entering hallowed ground, maybe even more than the first time I played CBGB's. And what times I had there over the years! I played the first Gutterball club show there, had many gigs with the Dream Syndicate, my solo bands and the Baseball Project. I saw great shows by Yo La Tengo, the Psychedelic Furs, Wilco, Rocket From the Tombs, the aforementioned Feelies and so many other great bands, packed in with others in that tiny room. Oh, and did I mention that I met my wife Linda there in 1992 when her band Zuzu's Petals opened for me (thanks for that booking, Todd!). Yes, I'll certainly miss Maxwell's and cherish all of the memories but the end of one club means the time to find another new great club to start building a new history. And the road goes on and on.
Here's a very lo-fi but very rocking video of me playing Maxwell's in 1996, the first of many shows I played there with Linda.
Memories of Maxwell covered in The Hollywood Reporter.
Steve Wynn and Sound & Vision's Mike Mettler discuss vinyl and The Days of Wine and Roses
The Guardian has an extension review of The Paisley Underground featuring contributions from Steve, Dan Stuart, Sid Griffin, Matt Piucci and many others:
The Paisley Underground: Los Angeles's 1980s psychedelic explosion Think of LA in the 1980s, and you think of hair metal. But elsewhere, the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate and a handful of others were reviving the 1960s and briefly becoming rock's hottest scene. Here's the story in the musicians' own words...
Dates for the Dream Syndicate's Tour 2013 are up!
Also check out a free download of "Tell Me When It's Over" recorded September 2012 at El Sol in Madrid, Spain
For more, click here.
Over the 30 years that I have been recording and touring, there has been one constant collaborator and that's my good buddy Chris Cacavas. From the earliest days of 1982 when I put out Green On Red's eponymous EP on my Down There label through the two Danny & Dusty records as well as "Here Come The Miracles," "Static Transmission" and on many tours with many lineups, I have often had Chris right there by my side. And with the winter chill upon us, it is time again for Chris and I to take our songs, histories, collaboration and friendship out on the road. Chris and I will be coming to an autobahn/autostrade near you next month.
We both have new limited edition CDs with previously unreleased material — Chris' is called "Love's Been re-Discontinued" and mine is "Up There — the Home Recordings 2000 to 2008" and both will be available at the show. Got a song you're just dying to hear? Let us know via either of our Facebook sites. Put on your coat, your glove, your hat and come on down to join us for the musical equivalent of a night by a roaring fire.
"Up There--Home Recordings 2000 to 2008," Steve's latest in a series of limited edition tour CDs is now available for purchase right here on the WynnWeb. The CD is what is says, a collection of multi-track demos from the last decade, a few of which surfaced on tribute records and film soundtracks and even more that were never released. There are early sketches of songs that ended up on official records as well as covers of songs by Gene Clark, Nick Lowe, Daniel Johnston, Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young. The CD is hand numbered edition of 1000 copies. Read more about it and order your copy right here.
UPDATE: Due to family complications, the last four dates of this tour have been canceled. Check back for possible rescheduling early in 2013.
I always enjoy doing something I’ve never done before, especially when it comes to touring and making music. And that’s not easy. 30 years and thousands of shows into the game, it can be tough finding a new way to collaborate and take it to the stage. Well, next month in Belgium I’ll be doing something new--seventeen shows in Belgium with Piv Huvluv, an old pal who is really making a name for himself on the comedy circuit over there. Since his act is in Flemish, I’ll just have to take the word of friends (particularly my Dutch bass player Erik Van Loo) in knowing that the guy is hilarious. I have watched a DVD of his act and found myself laughing even when I didn’t know what he was saying. Funny bones, as they say, funny bones. Anyway, I put the idea to Piv a few years ago that we do a tour like this, combining what we do both separately and together on stage during the course of an evening. He loved the idea and now it’s going to be a barnstorming adventure. Naturally, it will be especially good if you understand his act but even if you don’t, it will be worth the trek, especially since I’ll be debuting my latest limited edition CD, “Up There—Home Recordings 2000 to 2008”—on the tour. The CD is what it says—demos and sessions from the last decade, recorded at my home studio (which was up there, on the 5th floor of my NYC digs) before I moved to my NEW home studio, once again on the 5th floor, as it turns out, of my Jackson Heights residence. Come for the music, come for the laughs, come for the collaboration, come for the new CD—but you just might want to come out somewhere along the trek because this one will be unique.
This September marks the 30 year anniversary of the release of The Days of Wine and I’m excited to say The Dream Syndicate will be commemorating the date by reforming for a handful of shows in Spain, the first time that Dennis Duck, Mark Walton and I will have performed as the Dream Syndicate since we walked off stage at the I-Beam in San Francisco back in 1988. We’re going to be joined for these dates (and very possibly some more beyond) by Jason Victor who has so ably carried the torch of the guitarists who have played these songs with us before. I’m really looking forward to these shows and I hope that some of you will have the chance to come down and see them for yourselves.
Allow yourself to be transported via your computer screen to that very special night in April when The Baseball Project had a chance to perform at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our good friends at The Met did a great job of shooting the event and have made the complete show available for checking out on YouTube. Enjoy.