Steve Wynn was the vocalist, guitarist, and principal songwriter for The Dream Syndicate, a key band in the guitar-driven neo-psychedelic Paisley Underground style that emerged in early 1980s-Los Angeles. Their first album, The Velvet Underground-influenced The Days of Wine and Roses, is considered an early classic of the alternative rock genre.
The Dream Syndicate recorded several more albums, including 1984’s Sandy Pearlman-produced Medicine Show. After The Dream Syndicate broke up, Wynn continued his prolific career, with acclaimed albums as a solo artist and with Gutterball, The Miracle 3 and The Baseball Project.
The Baseball Project — which also includes Peter Buck from R.E.M., Scott McCaughey and Linda Pitmon — will be playing at the Mercury Lounge in Goleta on April 1. Tickets are available from Club Mercy.
Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to for the upcoming Baseball Project concert at the Mercury Lounge?
Steve Wynn: On our last tour in 2009 we were covering all the bases — no pun intended — with songs from all of our individual careers as well as The Baseball Project. That will probably be the case again this time, although I imagine we’ll lean more on the baseball songs since we have a lot more material this time around.
JM: Baseball is not a particularly obvious topic for rock ‘n’ roll songs. Why baseball?
SW: I disagree. It’s a very obvious topic. Once you realize that the subject of baseball is a breeding ground for nostalgia, regret, the potential for one man to rise up against the odds and the system, arcane Americana and just about all the subjects that make for good rock and folk music, you begin to see that there are a million songs to be written about baseball. So far we have about 40.
JM: Do you think that the Baseball Project songs will appeal to people who are not baseball fans?
SW: Absolutely. I can take any of the songs that we’ve written and distill them to one message or archetype that translates to not only any other sport but the shared experience of most people who will hear the record. I don’t think you had to be a pugilist to appreciate The Boxer.
JM: You first made a splash with The Dream Syndicate. How did that band come together?
SW: We were just like-minded friends who got tired of not hearing the music that we loved. We were into droning guitars, garage rock, 20-minute songs that never changed chords, and things like that — things that were not fashionable in the era of Human League and Flock Of Seagulls. Turns out that other people were looking for very much the same thing.
JM: Early on, what were your goals for The Dream Syndicate, and did you meet them?
SW: I remember we always said that we’d rather make music that could be one single person’s favorite record of all time rather than music that 100,000 people would like enough to use it as background music. I think we succeeded.
JM: The Dream Syndicate toured with R.E.M. After that the second Dream Syndicate album, Medicine Show, was released. What was that like, and did this sow the seeds for Peter Buck joining the Baseball Project years later?
SW: Peter and I had met a year before that but the two months we spent together on the road was the real beginning of a great friendship that is over 25 years strong. It’s a blast to finally be in a band with him.
JM: Do you want to set the record straight on anything about your music or career?
SW: Nah. Why break the mystery?
JM: Where are you responding from?
SW: I’m responding from my apartment in Manhattan, a place I haven’t been much in the last six months.
JM: Finally, are you planning to visit La Super-Rica while you’re in the area?
SW: Let me put it this way: the last time I was in Santa Barbara, I ate at La Super-Rica three times in 24 hours. Does that answer your question? Man, I love that place!
Click here for Jeff Moehlis’ complete interview with Steve Wynn.
— Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.