Steve Wynn is back touring with Dream Syndicate, working on new music with The Baseball Project, and planning future solo work. He kindly agreed to an interview with xxvii4ever.com.
• I’ve been revisiting some of your previous albums, especially listening to them in the car. I’m struck by what a great driving album Static Transmission is. Did you have that in mind when you recorded it?
SW: Well, I think that "Amphetamine" in particular is one of those ultimate driving songs--like "L.A. Woman" or "Radar Love." I mean, it's pretty much a song about taking speed and driving around LA so it only makes sense it would be a good driving song although I no longer do the former and very rarely do the latter at this point.
• How do you have such control over your use of feedback and what first led you to make it part of your sound?
SW: It's just something that all of us loved when we started the Dream Syndicate. It's really at the centerpiece of so much music that I love but it was also something you rarely heard in 1981 when we started playing. Maybe the Gang Of Four had some feedback here and there but not a whole lot. We just claimed it as our own. Oh, and you just cannot have control over feedback. You can't tune feedback. And that's what makes it so cool. That, and the way it drives a big sonic wedge between the giant US and THEM.
• There’s quite a change in sound on Crossing Dragon Bridge and it has become one of my favorites. What do you suppose a listener, who discovers you from that album, has in store for them when they explore your previous work?
SW: Well, I'd like to think that most of my albums are pretty different from each other. But, yeah, that one is its own beast and it's one of my favorites. In fact, if I had to point to any of my records as a sign of where I'll be going in the coming years that would be the one. I do think that one of the challenges I've had in 30 years of making music is my desire to follow any musical or sonic whim I have at any moment and the way it forced people to jump off at various points along the way. But the fans who have stuck around, I think, can find the common thread through all of the music I've made and that common thread, let's face it, is ME.
• I remember listening to The Suitcase Sessions and trying to place the chords to the start of a song that turned out to be “Venus.” I can honestly say it’s the first time I liked that song. Then there’s a great cover of “Draggin’ the Line” right after that, a song I had actually forgotten and was happy to rediscover. And then there was the Hollies tune, “The Air That I Breathe” on Pick of the Litter. It’s definitely your sound—you make them yours. As an accomplished songwriter, how do you choose what songs to cover?
SW: You know, I used to do a lot more covers back in the Dream Syndicate days and I always loved doing them. I stopped doing them as much when I realized that most fans who came to my shows were happier to hear me pull an obscure song from my own back catalogue than to knock out someone else's tune. Having said that, I do think I'll be doing more covers in the future--they're just a lot of fun and a nice way to be an entertainer and an advocate at the same time.
• You have quite a large catalog of songs now. Do you ever rediscover a tune you had forgotten or are they all ready to play?
SW: I try. I do tend to draw from the same 100, more or less, of the 400 I've recorded. But I need to revisit some of those old albums and find some tunes I have forgotten and maybe put them up on blocks and rebuild them so I can take them out again. I just saw Wilco do a set of some of their more obscure songs and I really enjoyed that feeling of vague familiarity that happens when a band goes deep like that.
• Dream Syndicate is on the go again—which is wonderful. How does it feel to tour with the crew again?
SW: I'm loving it for so many reasons. First of all, I really like Dennis and Mark both as friends and as musicians and it's nice to be making music and traveling and spending time with them. And I love the way that Jason Victor has fit in so well with the Dream Syndicate both on and off stage. It's still the Dream Syndicate, still true to our history and sound but also somehow new as well. And almost as much, I love seeing the happy faces in the audience every night and finding out that so many of those people that come out had never seen the band and never thought they would.
• Are the rumours true? Is there a new Dream Syndicate album in the works?
SW: We're open to the idea but like everything with this reunited band, we won't do anything unless it's really good, really interesting and really fun. So, let's see what happens!
• What’s on the horizon for Steve Wynn?
SW: The next thing on the horizon is a new album with the Baseball Project that we'll be making in late August for an early 2014 release. And I'm thinking of doing a more acoustic oriented solo record next year as well. But I'm touring more than ever these days so it's always a challenge to find the time to get people together in the studio. But it always works out. All of my friends love making music and love hanging out so we make sure to clear time in our schedules whenever we have the chance to do something together.