Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate) :: The AD Interview

The Paisley Underground is the kind of scene that makes for a good verbal secret handshake. While its myriad branches snaked into the mainstream eventually thanks to Mazzy Star, the band that most transcended its range was The Dream Syndicate. While their 1982 debut full length The Days of Wine and Roses seems to owe its debt to the noisier end of psychedelia, the subsequent three albums took off across a range of American and European rock traditions. It had seemed like 1988's Ghost Stories was going to be the final word, but now, 29 years later, comes How Did I Find Myself Here?, due out September 18th. Founding member and vocalist Steve Wynn sat down with Aquarium Drunkard to discuss the band's reformation, the new album, the LP's Aquarium Drunkard connection, and why hearing Kendra Smith's vocal track was like Christmas morning.

Aquarium Drunkard: I found an interview you did back in 2013 with Slicing Up Eyeballs - back when the Dream Syndicate reunion, reformation or whatever you want to call it first happened. You said that your goal for making a new record was that you always thought there should've been an album between The Days of Wine and Roses and Medicine Show and that you wanted to try and tap into how the band was evolving during that period. Was that an idea that stayed with you during the making of this album? Did that end up coming true to some extent?

Steve Wynn: No, but that was a definite, solid idea I had back then because I always wished there had been a record between the two. Just because those records are so different and the progression from The Days of Wine and Roses to Medicine Show was actually pretty logical, if you lived it in real time like we did. For a lot of people, they didn't see all the steps in between. So I thought about that for a long time, and when we reformed the band and people would ask about a new record, that was kind of in the back of my mind.

But in the years since - like you said, that was 4 years ago - this particular lineup really evolved from show to show, tour to tour. We did about 50 shows before making the record. It is the Dream Syndicate, very much in the spirit and history of the Dream Syndicate. It's got me and Dennis [Duck; drummer] who were there from the start, and Mark [Walton; bass] who almost goes back to the start and Jason [Victor; guitar] who is probably the leading living scholar on the Dream Syndicate in some ways [laughs], who really understands what we're all about, knows our music and keeps us on the straight and narrow about who we were. It's a reunion, but it's the Dream Syndicate. But as time went on, I realized this is just a really good incarnation, tradition-bearing version of the Dream Syndicate, so the motivation changed to where I really just wanted to document this band.

I sort of feel after awhile when we'd tour and talk to people about the band, people would ask 'let me get this straight, who are the original members and where did this person come from' and those are all reasonable questions. I'm the kind of person who reads Aquarium Drunkard and likes archival material and cares about the history of music and the details. But also this is the band right now. Every time we'd play a show, people would leave saying this is a really good band. That became the motivation for making a record - just to be able to say, this is who we are right now and we think you're going to dig it. On top of that, I wanted to keep playing shows and touring, but didn't want to be confined by being a nostalgia act and only playing old songs. All that was kind of in the back of my mind, more than that original and very real but forgotten concept. [laughs] We'll do that one next time.

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