The Dream Syndicate
|The Dream Syndicate|
Steve Wynn in 2011
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Years active||1981–1989, 2012–present|
|Labels||Down There, Ruby/Slash, Rough Trade, A&M, Chrysalis, Enigma, Big Time|
|Associated acts||The Suspects, 15 Minutes, Goat Deity, Human Hands, Opal, Danny & Dusty, 45 Grave, Continental Drifters, Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three, Gutterball|
The Dream Syndicate is an American alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California, originally active from 1981 to 1989, and reunited since 2012. The band is associated with neo-psychedelia and the Paisley Underground music movement; of the bands in that movement, according to the Los Angeles Times, it "rocked with the highest degree of unbridled passion and conviction". Though never commercially successful, they met with considerable acclaim, especially for their songwriting and guitar playing. Bandleader Steve Wynn reformed the band in 2012, and a fifth studio album was announced in February 2017.
Formation and early years (1981–1983)
While attending the University of California, Davis, Steve Wynn and Kendra Smith played together (with future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair) in a band called the Suspects, regarded as the first new wave-influenced band in the Davis, California music scene. Wynn also recorded a 1981 single with a trio that he called 15 Minutes, which included members of Alternate Learning.
After Wynn moved back to Los Angeles, while rehearsing in a band called Goat Deity (with future Wednesday Week sisters Kelly and Kristi Callan), Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had answered an ad for a bass player, and the two formed a new group, with Precoda switching to guitar. Smith joined on bass and brought in drummer Dennis Duck (Mehaffey), who had played in the locally successful Pasadena-based band Human Hands.
Duck suggested the name "the Dream Syndicate" in reference to Tony Conrad's early 1960s New York experimental ensemble (better known as the Theatre of Eternal Music), whose members included John Cale.
On February 23, 1982, the Dream Syndicate performed its first show at Club Lingerie in Hollywood. A four-song EP was recorded at the home of Tom Mehren in Pasadena, with Paul B. Cutler engineering and producing, and released on Wynn's Down There label. The band quickly achieved local attention for its often aggressively long, feedback-soaked improvisations. Influences on the band, which was soon deemed "a seminal force in the city's '80s underground rock evolution", were the Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television.
The band signed to Slash Records, whose subsidiary Ruby Records released its debut and by far best-known album, The Days of Wine and Roses, in 1982. Days of Wine and Roses "sent shockwaves through the American underground in the early 1980s", but MTV favored a different kind of music. Rough Trade Records released the album's lead track, "Tell Me When It's Over," in early 1983 as the A-side of an UK EP which also included a live cover of Neil Young's "Mr. Soul."
Post-Kendra Smith years (1984–1989)
Medicine Show was recorded in 1984 in San Francisco with producer Sandy Pearlman, and released that year by A&M Records. They opened tours for R.E.M. and U2 and released the five-song live EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album... Live!, the last record to feature Precoda on guitar (who soon after left to pursue a career in screenwriting) and the first appearance of bassist Mark Walton. The EP's commercial failure contributed to the group's temporary breakup, The band were dropped by A&M after the label rejected its demo for "Slide Away", later released on the semi-official It's Too Late to Stop Now.
In 1985, during the band's temporary retirement, Wynn and Dan Stuart of Green on Red wrote 10 songs together which were recorded with Duck, among others, and released by A&M as the album The Lost Weekend under the name Danny & Dusty.
After a brief hiatus and, in the words of one reviewer, having taken "a trip through the major-label meat grinder", Wynn, Duck and Walton joined with Cutler (who had produced the group's first EP and played guitar in the proto-goth 45 Grave) to form the next version of the Dream Syndicate. They recorded two more studio albums, Out of the Grey (1986, Chrysalis Records), produced by Cutler, and Ghost Stories (1988, Enigma Records), produced by Elliot Mazer. A live album, Live at Raji's, was recorded in 1988 (also by Mazer) before Ghost Stories but released afterward.
After breaking up in 1989, the band's posthumous releases included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a collection of unreleased studio sessions, and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio performance recorded just prior to the release of the band's first album. Wynn continued on as a solo artist, and Walton went on to play with the Continental Drifters.
Wynn reformed the Dream Syndicate for a festival performance on September 21, 2012 at Festival BAM in Barcelona, Spain. The reformed band included Wynn, Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn's longtime lead guitarist in the Miracle 3.
On December 5–6, 2013, the Dream Syndicate played two shows with three other reunited Paisley Underground bands — the Bangles, the Three O'Clock and Rain Parade — at the Fillmore in San Francisco on the first night, and on the next, a benefit concert at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. On September 26–27, 2014, the Dream Syndicate played at The EARL in East Atlanta; they were the band's first shows in the South since 1988, and included Savage Republic as the opening act. The September 26 show featured a complete performance of The Days of Wine and Roses, while the following show featured their second album, The Medicine Show. As of February 2017[update], the group had played more than 50 shows since reuniting.
In February 2017, Wynn announced that a forthcoming fifth studio album had been recorded at Montrose Studios in Richmond, Virginia and mixed at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey. The personnel included Wynn, Walton, Duck and Victor, joined on keyboards by Chris Cacavas. Wynn noted that the album's final track, titled "Kendra's Dream", included vocals from Smith, the band's original bass player, who also wrote the song's lyrics.
- The Days of Wine and Roses (1982, Ruby Records/Slash Records)
- Medicine Show (1984, A&M Records)
- Out of the Grey (1986, Chrysalis Records)
- Ghost Stories (1988, Enigma Records)
- The Dream Syndicate (1982, Down There Records)
- Tell Me When It's Over (1983, Rough Trade Records)
- This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album... Live! (1984, A&M Records)
- Live at Raji's (1989, Enigma Records)
- The Day Before Wine and Roses (1994, Normal)
- It's Too Late to Stop Now... Isn't It? (1988, self-released)
- Tell Me When It's Over: The Best of the Dream Syndicate 1982-1988 (1992, Rhino Records)
- 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988) (1993, Normal)
- Weathered and Torn (1992, Atavistic Video)
- "The Dream Syndicate". AllMusic.
- Matsumoto, Jon (9 December 1993). "Classic of the Week". Los Angeles Times. p. 5.
- Wynn, Steve (February 2017). "Artist Biography: The Dream Syndicate". Billions. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20.
- Rosen, Craig (5 January 1989). "A new day dawns for restless Dream Syndicate". Chicago Tribune. p. 9E.
- Hochman, Steve (21 May 1989). "The Art of Clubbing Makes a Comeback". Los Angeles Times. p. 76.
- Hochmann, Steve (3 June 1990). "Steve Wynn Breaks Out of the Syndicate". Los Angeles Times. p. 65.
- Torn, Luke (September–October 2004). "Rev. of Dream Syndicate, Ghost Stories and The Complete Live at Raji's". No Depression. p. 134.
- Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative rock. Miller Freeman. pp. 339–. ISBN 9780879306076. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- "Barcelona.Acció.Musical". Bcn.es. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- "The Dream Syndicate reunite for anniversary shows". Uncut (magazine). September 2012.
- Mills, Fred (October 16, 2013). "Reunion Concerts: A Million Paisley Underground Fans Can't Be Wrong!". Blurt.