Over his almost 30-year career in music, first with The Dream
Syndicate and then solo, Steve Wynn has become one of our
great singer/songwriters. With his cinematic lyrics - often dealing
with ordinary people struggling with their dark sides - and uncanny
knack for charged, guitar-drenched melodies, Wynn has amassed a hugely
impressive body of work over four Dream Syndicate and ten solo albums
(not to mention various compilations and appearances on many tribute
records). He's enjoyed a creative resurgence of late, especially with
his latest band, the kick-ass Miracle 3, but for his just-released
tenth album, Crossing Dragon Bridge, decided to take off by
himself to Slovenia, with only producer Chris Eckman (former
leading light of The Walkabouts) for company.
I was lucky enough to be able not only to discuss the new record
with Steve, but also go over aspects of his entire career, the way
he approaches making music and the people he's worked with. My thanks
to Steve for being such an amiable and open interviewee, and to Krista
Mettler of Skye Media & Design and our own Dave
DeVoe for setting things up.
Hybrid Magazine: Thanks for spending some time today, Steve.
I've been a big fan of yours ever since the Dream Syndicate days,
so it's a real privilege to talk to you.
Steve Wynn: My pleasure, my pleasure. I'm outside, I'm in
Washington Square Park and it's a really nice day, so I'm happy to
be out here.
HM: I wanted to start off by talking about the new record,
Crossing Dragon Bridge. It's pretty different from your other
records in a lot of ways; I was wondering how the opportunity came
about to record it with Chris Eckman, and you went out to Slovenia
to do it - seems a long way to go to make a record ..
SW: It was !
HM: So what were the circumstances there ?
SW: Well, I'd wanted to make a record with Chris for a long
time - we've been talking about doing something together for about
ten years. I'm a fan of what he does and he likes what I do, but we're
probably two of the busiest people out there - we're two people who
love touring, love writing and recording, so trying to match our schedules
- it really took ten years to find a time to do this together. When
we started the project I thought we'd been trying to get it together
for about 4 or 5 years, but he showed me emails dating back to '97!
I really like the records he'd done with The Walkabouts and Chris
& Carla, and the records he'd produced like Midnight Choir;
what I really like is how he uses strings and interesting harmonies
and very kind of sophisticated elements in a rock context, without
it seeming too precious, or like sugar coating. It still feels very
intimate, very disturbing, all the things I like in rock music, but
at the same time it feels very elegant, and that's not an easy trick
to pull off. Since he'd done that so well for so long I'd figured
I'd go work with him - and also he knows my history and my catalog
really well, so I figured I was in safe hands. When he tries something
new like a new sound or new element, things like that, it can be a
little scary 'cause you're out of your comfort zone; you're suddenly
working in an area where things aren't so automatic, where you don't
have the answer to everything, and that's good! It's nice to be confused,
it's nice to have some obstacles in your way, but if you work with
someone you don't fully trust and you get to that point where you're
not fully confident, it feels like someone pulled the rock out from
underneath you, like they snuck up with some weird knockout drugs
HM: I can see what you mean - especially after you've been
making music for as long as you have, it must be good to do things
a little bit differently. I noticed from the sleeve notes that Chris
was very keen to record you without having a band, without even him
playing any instruments, it was a struggle to get him to do that -
why did he want to record you pretty much completely solo ?
SW: Well, you know, it's funny - this is the first record
I've made where I wasn't recording with a band. Every record I've
ever made in my life, every single one, began with me in a room with
three or four or five other other people holding guitars and bass
and drums and turning up the amps and letting loose. Now you might
still replace or edit things, but that's still the genesis of every
record I've done. It's the first time I've ever made a record that
way, where it's really just around me and an acoustic guitar and it
works up from there, and that's the way Chris wanted to do it; he
was very insistent from the start about making a record where I wasn't
hiding behind volume, where I wasn't hiding behind noise, where I
was more naked. He wanted the centerpiece of this record to be my
songs, my voice, and that's exciting.
The funny thing about it was I'd never made a record like this before
but, like a lot of other musicians, I do demos all the time; there's
so much cheap, easy technology where you can do a whole record on
your laptop, and all the way from the days of 4-track cassette recorders
5 years ago to GarageBand today, I've always liked finding ways
to throw things together at home. It's not unusual to work that
way - I've just never made a record that way.
HM: Did you end up playing a bunch of instruments that you'd
never played before because of that ?
SW: Well, I played some instruments where I'd normally find
someone who can play them much better than I can! (both laugh) You
know, it's funny, I love playing lead guitar but I've always surrounded
myself with really, really good and very professional, capable lead
guitarists who can do everything and I've done my one solo per record;
I love playing keyboards but I'd almost never played keyboards on
a record - and my favorite thing ever is to play bass, I'm a freak
for bass ...
HM: That's really interesting, I had no idea.
SW: ...I wrote half of Days of Wine and Roses (first,
classic Dream Syndicate album) on bass, I've been playing bass for
a long time, but I'd never played bass on my own records because again,
I'd always found someone who could do better than I can. So the fun
thing on this record was, even though we had thoughts of bringing
in other musicians, just for spontaneity, for budget, for time and
convenience, I ended up playing everything myself. I couldn't play
the violin parts myself, but everything else I ended up playing myself
in one way or another.
HM: Another thing you said in the sleeve notes is that this
is the closest record you've made to the sound you have in your head
before starting to put down the recording. I was wondering what happened
on other records you've made to make that less so; what changed the
sound from what you originally heard it to be ?
SW: Well, it's a good thing to end up with sounds other than
the ones you heard in your head, that's predictable - I'd only had
so much space, there was always so much else going on. That's why
I like collaboration - I get most excited responding to other people's
ideas, I like being surprised, I like things to happen in a way that
I didn't expect. I guess what I meant when I said it was the closest
to the sound inside my head, I meant it was the closest to the experience
of making demos.
When I'm home doing demos, again, I'll play everything myself - my
home recordings are completely "splattered", like Jackson
Pollock, y'know (laughs) as it hits the canvas. I'll throw everything
against the recording device, do a bunch of keyboards, a bunch of
vocals, do everything fast and furious and worry about it all later
on, and that's the way all my demos sound. When I've gone to make
records I've always let the music go the way it wants to go; I try
not to go into the studio and tell the people I'm playing with "Here's
my demo, play it the way I played on the demo, don't change a thing,
if you change one thing you're outa here!" I've never been that
kind of a musician.
So this record is the closest to the sound in my head because it's
done more like a demo, it's more me playing stuff and not worrying
bout it, and Chris and I - when you make a record with one other musician,
you are very busy 'cause you're playing a lot of stuff, I played so
much stuff on this record and Chris did too. There was no time to
worry or fuss about it, it was just "Here's an idea, let's do
it and record it", then it was time for another idea and record
that - and to be honest I kind of liked it that way. The more time
I have to think, the worse things go; my favorite records that I've
made in my life are the ones that go most quickly, and I think that's
no accident - you're not always the best judge of what you do best,
and I think at the same time your natural instincts are usually pretty
good, so it's when you start second guessing yourself, when intellectualizing
things that you get in trouble. If I'm in the studio and I don;t have
time to start second guessing myself, I'm usually pretty happy.
HM: Yeah, I can see the parallel with some of the writing
I've done, some of the things I like the most are where I've just
whacked it out and not thought too hard about it or spent days editing
SW: Right, and just the same, you've probably had your writing
process changed by technology, because now you can just look and a
computer screen and you can delete things, click and drag, it's a
lot easier to mess with what you've done. When you used a typewriter,
what are you gonna do - maybe cross out a couple of words here and
there, but it wasn't as easy to fine tune and micromanage all your
words, you were stuck with what you had. And recording's the same
way now, with Pro Tools and digital recording, it's so easy to keep
tinkering and tinkering and tinkering, you really have to know when
HM: Did you find that Chris made suggestions that made some
of the songs really change from what you originally thought they'd
be like ?
SW: I'm trying to remember now; I think that most of the songs
on this record were written not long before I went in the studio,
they were mostly written for this record, so I didn't really have
time to get any preconceived notions, it was all so quick, so really
what I did this time in Slovenia with Chris Eckman was what I'd normally
have done at home, let the songs get up on their own feet and try
to stand up without falling down. Instead of doing it in the privacy
of my own bedroom, I just did it in the privacy of someone else's
bedroom ! (both laugh)
HM: What are some of your favorites of the songs on this record
SW: I'm pretty happy with all of the songs on the record;
I love the songs that use strings because that's something I hadn't
done in a while. I'm really most proud of "Manhattan Fault Line";
I think that's one of the best things I've ever done.
HM: "Bring The Magic" is one that I really like
too, I think that also has the strings on it. I love the atmosphere
that invokes, it's one of your great road songs.
SW: Yeah, I've written a lot of songs while sitting behind
the wheel of a car, but that's because I'm from LA ! (laughs).
HM: In terms of the way it came out it sounds like this is
one of your favorite records that you've done; would you say it's
THE favorite, or do you have other ones that you're really proud of
as well ?
SW: I kinda like different things about all the records I've
done; even when here's one that I thought wasn't so good, I look back
on it and think "That wasn't so bad after all". I gotta
say, I think the records I've made in the last five, six, seven years
are my favorite ones; I think starting around Here Come The Miracles
and My Midnight in the late 90s, 2000, I kind of hit a new
stride while I was doing them. You know it's funny, when I started
doing records in '82 with The Days of Wine and Roses, the motivation
for making records was just to make the sound, the record I wanted
to make that nobody else was making, to do it myself, and it was easier
back then because the sound that I loved, nobody else was doing. It
was also easier because there was no pressure; nobody cared what
Days of Wine and Roses sounded like because we were an unknown
As time goes on, like most musicians you start to think more about
what your fans, your record label, the press, your friends, your enemies
think of you; whatever you think about that, you still do. Something
happened to me around 2000 and I just stopped caring, and I went full
circle back to where I began when I just wanted to amuse myself ,
get a kick out of what I was doing, and it really went full circle
back to Days of Wine and Roses. I tell you, that's the best
attitude to have for anything; for journalism, for music, whatever
it is, if you make a point to make yourself happy, you're doing something
right ... I didn't answer your question at all! (both laugh) I think
...tick ...tick ...tick and Here Come The Miracles are
my two favorites.
HM: Mine too, although I have a real soft spot for Sweetness
SW: That's a record I've always felt was one of my worst ones.
(much consternation from Gareth!) If I was subjective I'd have to
say I didn't like the songwriting, the playing or the production that
much, altohugh I have found listening back to it that I'm actually
pretty happy with it, so ... There's a couple of records, that one
and Out Of The Grey by the Dream Syndicate, where I felt that
I kind of missed the mark, and then I'd meet somebody who said that
was they favorite record of mine, so I figured why should I go and
ruin their trip? (laughs) I gotta stop knocking my own records !
HM: Do you think part of the reason the recent records are
so good is that (up to this record at least) you've had a permanent
band again (the excellent Miracle 3) so you're getting that empathy
from recording and touring with the same group of people ?
SW: (pauses) Yeah, there's a lot to be said for that, and
not just the same group of musicians but THIS group of musicians.
I mean, the Miracle 3's the best band I've ever had; comfort and familiarity
doesn't always create great music, but this happens to be a very,
very good band and we'll definitely do more records together. I think
it comes down more to ... well, it was a nice kick in the pants to
start working in Tucson with Greg Schumacher, he was a real
good influence. The whole experience at Wavelab (Schumacher's studio)
brought me back to making music as a playground, and I have to say
that I kind of found may way by working in a studio like Wavelab in
Tucson where it's more of a laboratory, more of a playground, than
it is a sterile recording environment. That helped a lot. Not to get
too geeky or anything! (laughs) I think musicians are most happy when
they're discovering something for the first time, whether it's a new
guitar, a new pedal, new musicians to play with, and I think the most
frustrating thing, the most deadly thing is to do something over and
over and over, to where you lose sight of what you were trying to
do in the first place. I think it's to my advantage that I have to
make records under a certain budget and in a certain time, and I think
certain musicians just lose it when they have endless possibilities
and endless time and money - it's not always a good thing.
HM: Yeah, I can think of a few examples there! Speaking of
musicians and arrangements, when you write a new song, do you have
it in your head what the arrangement is going to be like, whether
you'll do it with a particular band, etc. or do you develop it when
you get in the studio ?
SW: I guess I try not to; every record's a little bit different.
Because I do demo the songs and the people I play with hear the demo,
there might be certain things, my bass player might like my very crude
and skeletal bass line or he might say "The hell with that, I'm
gonna play it the way I wanna play it". It's hard to say - it's
always different, and that's a good thing. I've written a lot of songs
on bass, and when you write a song where the center is the bass line,
you're trying to cajole the bass player ....
It depends - some of my favorite songs, like "No Tomorrow"
or "Smash Myself To Bits," or even "Amphetamine,"
those were songs that were written around very minimal ideas, just
very primitive, repetitive figures, so you really open yourself up
to the idea of everybody else in the band bringing their own personality
to the song. That's exciting, too.
HM: I wanted to ask you about some of the collaborations you've
done, especially the more unusual ones, like the one with George
Pelicanos on ...tick ...tick ...tick - "Cindy It Was
Always You" - not only were you collaborating with someone else,
but it was someone who's an author rather than a musician. How did
that work out ?
SW: He'd never written a song before! It was pretty funny;
he and I were in pretty regular contact around the time of Here
Come The Miracles, he wrote the bio for that record and we were
hanging out a little bit back then. I love his books because he writes
about music so well; his writing is so musical to begin with and he
makes so many great musical references in his books and I know how
much he loves music, so I said "Let's write a song together"
and he said "I can't, I'm not a songwriter" and I said "Sure
you are, just write whatever's on your mind, send it to me and I'll
put music to it." So he sent me two songs and one of them was
"Cindy..." and I thought the lyrics were really great, and
really different to the way I would write. He sent it to me with a
note saying "My shit ain't gold, do whatever you want to it"
- and I didn't change a thing! (both laugh profusely) . He was really
happy with it too.
The older I get, the more I love collaboration because, let's face
it, when you've been doing something for a long time it's harder and
harder to surprise yourself, to get that spark. So getting a lyric
from George, or a cool riff, a cool groove from Chris Cacavas
or Chris Eckman or Linda (Pitmon, Miracle 3 drummer
and Steve's wife) or whoever, will kind of set you in motion... I've
always felt, maybe it's 'cause I've been doing it so long, that anyone
can write a song, all you gotta do is write down whatever's on your
mind, walk down the street and hum a melody, and you're done! (Gareth
chuckles in awe) I'm making it sound easy, y'know, some people would
say it's easy to fix a carburetor on a '56 Dodge and I can't do that,
or anybody might make a great souffle and I might have trouble with
that, but I think anyone can write a song!
I kinda like the idea of people who haven't written a million songs
being involved in writing, or producing even. I've always thought
that Martin Scorcese would be a great record producer, or George
Pelicanos, too - people who aren't necessarily musicians, but have
a good vision and good taste, can do the same thing but maybe even
better, 'cause they're not bogged down by a bunch of notes and tuning
and preconceptions , and things they've done a million times. Who
I'd like to collaborate isn't necessarily Bob Dylan or Neil
Young or Lou Reed, people I'm compared to; I'd rather collaborate
with someone like George, where I don't know what I'm gonna get -
I'm getting something unpredictable from someone who hasn't done it
a million times.
HM: Right, that's a really good point about Scorcese as he
always has such great music in his films, he obviously has a great
love for music. Do you have his number? You should call him up for
the next record !
SW: Good idea! ??? (can't make out this name on the recording)
is always apologizing for not getting my songs in The Wire
or something like that, but as he points out, The Wire is mostly
R&B and period music. I did send "Bring The Magic,"
that's like the Philly soul song that never was ... You never know
HM: Yeah, hopefully we'll hear that on the big screen some
time soon. Another collaboration of yours that I really like is the
one with Rick Rizzo from Eleventh Dream Day, "The
Difference Between Right And Wrong". That's probably going back
a while and I don't know if you can remember too much about it, but
how did that one come about? Were you working on an album that didn't
end up coming out, or was it just a one-off thing ?
SW: Wow, I'm amazed you know that song, not that many people have
heard of it. Jason Victor really likes that song, he's always
trying to get me to play it live but I think I've only done it live
once. I've known Rick for a really long time, before Eleventh Dream
Day started; he and Janet Bean (Eleventh Dream Day drummer)
would come to all the Dream Syndicate shows and they were really big
fans, they'd come to any show that was within 5 or 6 hours of Chicago.
He gave me cassettes - that shows how long ago this was - and told
me he was starting a band, Eleventh Dream Day, and I loved them right
off the bat - I thought, this kid's pretty good! I have a great admiration
for him; I think he's a great songwriter, a really good guitarist.
When I was getting ready to make Melting In The Dark the original
idea was to have Eleventh Dream Day play on it; I went to Chicago
and booked a couple of days with them and recorded the 6 songs that
are on The Suitcase Sessions. It went great, and we wrote that
song together in 20 minutes in the studio! When I say we did it in
20 minutes it sounds like I'm bragging, or showing off, but that's
really the best way to write songs; I keep saying this, but something
about being in an unpredictable situation with someone you admire,
where the sparks are flying - just do it fast. That song was a really
cool one - it's a nice sort of menacing dialog between two people
who are not very menacing! (both laugh)
HM: Yeah, that's a good way to describe it - I just think
that's a great song, I play it a lot.
SW: Thanks. I think Rick's the greatest; a few of those Eleventh
Dream Day records are some of my favourites of the last 20 years.
Ursa Major is a great record ...
HM: I think so, too; I also really love the first one, Prairie
School Freakout, just the whole sound of it with the buzzing amps
and all the rawness left in.
The last collaboration I wanted to ask you about is Danny And Dusty,
(where Wynn worked with Dan Stuart, formerly of the great Green
On Red and a bunch of other musicians from the 80s "Paisley
Underground" scene). Probably one of my all time favourite albums
is the first Danny and Dusty record, Lost Weekend, but that
was all the way back in '85, so I was pretty surprised when you and
Dan got back together last year. I really like the way the new record
Cast Iron Soul sounds older and wiser, like you guys realize
it's not 20 years ago and you're not just getting drunk and letting
rip any more. Had you been trying to get a second Danny and Dusty
record together for a while before it actually happened ?
SW: It was spontaneous. We'd never even talked about it, never
planned on doing anything. The reason the first Danny and Dusty record
happened was we were really good friends who hung out all the time,
and the record was an extension of our friendship, an extension of
our drinking and nasty ways... (laughs) and then we didn't hang out
again for a long time because he moved to Texas and then Spain, and
then Arizona, and we really weren't in contact for almost 20 years
or something like that. That's why we stopped working together, and
then the fact that we ended up both living in New York City again
led to our friendship being renewed, and led to making another record.
The second record is entirely like the first one in that it's exactly
what we're like when we hang out - it would have been a complete lie
to make "The Lost Weekend Part 2" because we don't hang
out and get swampy drunk any more, we don't hang out in bars and get
thrown out of 'em any more! (both laugh) Now we hang out and all the
things we talk about are, y'know, Cast Iron Soul... I love
both those records, in some ways I like Cast Iron Soul more,
because I think it was a tough trick to pull off to make a record
with someone after 20 years and have it be a continuation, but at
the same time not have it be more of the same, not be like punching
the clock, so we made it with a new sound, with different musicians.
It's still very much Danny and Dusty, but it's Danny and Dusty as
crusty old guys instead of ... drunk young guys! (both laugh)
HM: It's really striking how you can tell it's the same guys,
but with all this stuff having happened in the interim ...
SW: Those records are very honest - there's no filter, it's
just me and Dan hanging out ... and now we hang out all the time,
so I'm sure there'll be a third one.
HM: Oh great, I was going to ask you if there were any plans
for more live dates, or more records.
SW: I wouldn't say there will be a lot of live dates. Dan
gave up music for ten years, he stopped writing and recording and
touring entirely for ten years, and a lot of people don't do that;
he enjoyed making this record and doing the live shows, but I don't
think he's looking to get back into it full time either.
HM: Another thing I wanted to ask you about was, over the
years you've done a lot of covers of other people's songs, appeared
on a lot of compilations. For instance I was just listening to your
song on the Sandinista Project (where various artist cover
the entire, sprawling Clash triple album), "If Music Could
Talk". Switching it around though, have many people covered your
songs? I can't think of very many.
SW: Well let's see, there's been a lot of bands doing songs
live who you'd never had heard of... but the most well known ones
would be Luna doing "That's What You Always Say,"
and Concrete Blonde did a nice version of "When You Smile,"
a lot of people did "Tell Me When It's Over". Who else ...
REM did some things live, I know Black Crowes used to
do "Burn," and I think Yo La Tengo's covered every
song off Day of Wine and Roses at one time or another.
HM: I think Yo La Tengo have probably covered every song on
most records of the 80s and 90s by now! (both laugh)
SW: They're a really good jukebox!
HM: I was wondering if there are any of your songs that you'd particularly
like to be recorded by another artist, and who if so. Or have you
ever thought about writing for another artist ?
SW: Well, I've occasionally written songs with other people
in mind; they haven't necessarily gotten to them. I love to see all
of them get covered by everybody, that'd be great! It's flattering
that people cover your songs, it's wonderful, and you can make some
money. But having said that, I haven't done a lot of writing specifically
for other people, and maybe I should do more of that - it's a good
idea, I'm gonna do that!
HM: Well, good! Do you have anyone in mind that you'd like
to write for?
SW: Hard to say - off the top of my head I can't really say.
HM: One band that I think either you could cover pretty well,
or they could cover you, is The Hold Steady. I was reading
what you wrote about them on your web site recently; I really liked
your comment about them being sort of a modern day Mott The Hoople,
they have that nostalgic feel to the music, and Craig Finn's
a bit older, been around longer than the average band front man. I
really like the way he gets into the heads of the characters in the
songs; I think they could do a great version of something like "What
SW: Yeah, that would be great. We're actually trying to get
Craig to work on the Baseball Project, the thing I did with
Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck and Linda; he's a big
baseball fan but the schedules just didn't work out, so probably on
volume 2 that record he will be involved. I'd love to see Craig cover
"What Comes After"; he's a great writer, but that guy is
firing on all cylinders right now, that guy doesn't need to cover
I'm really snobby about lyrics; I think most lyricists are not worth
paying attention to and not doing anything exciting, but I think his
lyrics are really amazing. He manages to write lyrics that seem like
a novel, but still sing great and feel like great rock songs. I'd
love to cover one of his songs...
The cover thing, it's funny you should say that, I'm sure once we
get off the phone I'll think of a million people! Most people I'd
want to cover my songs are all dead (laughs), people like Dusty
Springfield or Ray Charles or Johnny Cash - I gotta
come up with some living ones! (laughs).
HM: Speaking of lyrics, a lot of your songs are very narrative
and descriptive; I was wondering if you'd ever thought about writing
for the printed page. With the time you've spent in the music business
and all the interesting people you must have met, a memoir from you
would be great.
SW: I have thought about that, either a novel or, kind of
a fictionalized memoir, where there's a lot of latitude, like Chronicles
was, the Dylan book, where you think maybe that's true and maybe it
isn't, but it sure reads well. I'd love to do that and I'm sure I'd
be the 500th rock and roller to write a memoir this year, but the
thing is, whenever I think about it I end up making another record
and going out on another tour, and that's the thing I like doing the
most. So, if I ever slow down, I'll probably end up doing something
It's funny, I think I'd be able to write a good novel, but all the
songwriters, all the musicians who you'd think would be able to do
that, who'd be the best novelists, like Randy Newman or Warren
Zevon - or Craig Finn - didn't write novels because they didn't
need to, their songs were already novels. Y'know, I think that a song
like "In Germany Before the War" by Randy Newman, or "Roland
the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon, are already novels
- they just take 3 minutes and 35 seconds to read instead of 200 pages.
HM: Right, I can't think of a that many examples of a musician
who's written a really good book, I guess Chronicles is a good
SW: That's a great one ... Kinky Friedman has written
some great books, but I'm not sure if he's a novelist who makes records,
or a musician who writes books !
HM: Do people ever ask you about getting the Dream Syndicate
back together ?
SW: I'd love to; I'd love to do it as a one-off gig, a one-off
thing - I wouldn't like to make that my day job! (laughs) It'd be
fun... unfortunately, I haven't spoken to Karl Precoda (original
lead guitarist) in going on 20 years now, so speaking to him would
be the first step. Although, we did a lot of good records and gigs
without speaking to each other back then, so we could just pick up
where we left off !
It's just one of thing things, but I do hope it happens, it would
be interesting. One of the few regrets I have, and I don't really
have a lot of regrets at all, but the one regret I have is that the
original lineup of the Dream Syndicate didn't do more. It was a great
band, me and Karl and Kendra (Smith, bass / vocals)
and Dennis (Duck, drums) was a really great band, but
we were only ever together for one year, and we only ever made one
album and one EP and that was it. There's so little documentation
of that band and it's frustrating, because I really think we could
have done a lot more good things, and I would love to see what we
could come up with now.
It might be crap; one thing about the Dream Syndicate is that Kendra
and Karl really didn't keep playing, they'd play a little bit here
and there but they really didn't keep making records or being on the
road, so I'm not sure what it would be like now. But, having said
that, all three of them were very smart, talented people with great
ideas, so... anyone can strum a D chord (laughs), so as long as the
will was still there and the ideas were still there and the brain
cells weren't too dead, I'm sure we could do something great again.
HM: I've heard some of those records that Karl did afterwards,
the Last Days Of May records - those are very different, but
the playing is still very recognizably him, that great ability he
has to sound like he's almost going out of control into feedback and
noise, just combining the melody and the noise really well.
SW: He's fantastic. One of the mistakes you make when you're
young and you have a great band is, you think, "Well I can do
this with anyone, I'm great with this band and I'll be great with
any band", but the fact is that really good chemistry with a
band is not easy, it doesn't happen every day. I saw a quote from
Bruce Springsteen not too long ago about the E Street Band,
where he said you always need the other guys more than you think you
do - and it's true, if you have a great group it's great for a reason,
and you can't explain why one group of four people play so well together
and another group of four people don't. I've had that at different
levels with all the bands I've played with, but the bands where I've
had the best chemistry were that first lineup of the Dream Syndicate,
and Gutterball for sure, and the Miracle 3; those are the three
bands I'm most proud of.
HM: So did you find ... I guess after you broke up the Dream
Syndicate, you were looking around for a really empathetic set of
musicians to play with. On those first couple of solo records, you
seemed to play with pretty much everybody you knew! There's some amazing
credit lists on those records.
SW: It's like when you get out of a 20 year marriage, you
want to date everyone in sight! (Gareth laughs) I was speed dating!
(laughs) I'd been in a band, touring with the same people more or
less, the same six or seven people, and so on my first three or four
solo records I wanted to play with everyone. Now, to be honest, I'm
so happy with the Miracle 3 that if that's my only live band for the
next 20 years, I'll be happy.
HM: Back to monogamy again! (both laugh)
SW: These are dangerous times!
HM: So do you have any plan for live dates in the US soon?
I know you have some European shows coming up.
SW: We did a few shows here for the new record; I'm going
to be doing one really low key show in LA, at the Cinema Bar on Sepulveda,
on November 29th; To be honest, I booked that show in LA just so I
could get my friends together and have some fun; I'm touring Europe
for the next month, so I'll probably be working on some US dates after
that. Probably, the next big tour that I do will be some big "Rolling
Thunder Revue" combo of the Miracle 3, the Minus Five
and the Baseball Project; we were talking about that and I think that
would be a really fun tour. When we can be together our schedules,
I think will be the next big US tour I'm gonna do.
HM: That'll definitely be something to look forward to - with
or without the face paint that Dylan wore on that Rolling Thunder
SW: (laughs) I think I'll avoid that!
HM: Well that's pretty much it, Steve, but before I go, is
there anything you' like people to know about you that nobody has
ever asked you ?
SW: I think there's just so much people should know about
photo by Guy Kokken
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