Modern ’80s rock band The Dream Syndicate continues with “These Times”

The Dream Syndicate, the alternative rock band associated with Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground scene from the early 1980s, found inspiration for their latest album, These days, from a somewhat unlikely source: the 2006 album Donuts by the late hip-hop artist J Dilla. While working on These days, Dream Syndicate singer-guitarist-songwriter Steve Wynn listened to a lot Donuts.

“I’ve been around long enough to know,” Wynn explains, “that when you say something like that – if you’re a band like ours – people are going to understand it. And of course people have it. was true. There is something that [Donuts] have — and in the same way a lot of records I love have — where it just takes you into a world that isn’t yours, but where you want to hang out. And that was our biggest focus on [These Times]. “

The feeling of wanting to be somewhere else in the midst of the chaos of this current world is captured on Dream Syndicate’s sixth studio album. It’s the gloomy and thoughtful sequel to 2017 How did I end up here?, which was the band’s first new album in nearly 30 years. The fact that the band – Wynn, drummer Dennis Duck, guitarist Jason Victor and bassist Mark Walton – were able to record a follow-up in a relatively short period of time indicates that their reunion in 2012 was not a one-off affair.

“We feel like a new band in a lot of ways,” Wynn said of the Dream Syndicate, which is currently on tour. “With all due respect for who the band was in the ’80s, we’re proud of what we did. But I think starting with the last album [How Did I Find Myself Here?], it felt like we were going to a new and more exciting place. We just wanted to continue in that direction, as a more psychedelic, hypnotic, ethereal thing that we really like to do now. “

Formed in 1981, the Dream Syndicate first established itself on the American university rock scene alongside contemporaries such as REM and X. Their debut in 1982, The days of wine and roses, now considered a classic, introduced the characteristics of the band’s sound: psychedelic post-punk music, noisy guitar, and black-influenced lyrics from Wynn. These elements are also found on These days alongside textures and electronic effects that add more depth to the music. An example of this is “Black Light”, which has a very rhythmic, even dancing groove. “Much of this influence comes from [keyboardist] Chris Cacavas, who became our fifth member, “says Wynn.”[He] is so plugged into new music, new bands and new sounds. He’s the kind of guy who kicks us in the pants and takes us to the present. “

Amidst the album’s rhythmic numbers like “Speedway” and “Recovery Mode”, there are also moments of reflection on the charming “Bullet Holes” and “Still Here” as well as the low-key “Treading Water Underneath the Stars” . Thematically, there is a moody and weary view of the world that permeates These days, from the lively rocker “Put Some Miles On”, which Wynn explains he talks about getting old, to the rhythmic jam of “The Whole World Is Watching”, whose title recalls the famous protest song of the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

“Especially in these times when everyone needs a chance to maybe get away a bit or stop the noise,” says Wynn, “I find myself late at night wanting to find a record that will blow me away, that I can close my eyes and go to another world. I wanted to make a record like this this time around, a record that would meet this need that I have and probably that of other people too. “

The new record and How did I end up here? document a group of veterans finding their second wind. In their first incarnation in the 1980s, the Dream Syndicate – which included original guitarist and bassist Karl Precoda and Kendra Smith at the time – was an integral part of the Paisley Underground scene in Los Angeles with the Bangles, Green on Red, the Long Ryders, Rain Parade and the Three O’Clock. After four albums, the Dream Syndicate broke up in 1989 and Wynn embarked on a solo career. Then in 2011, he reformed the group with Duck, Walton and Victor. Since then, this current formation has been the longest in the history of the group.

“One thing I don’t like about our first round,” admits Wynn, “is that we changed line-ups, labels and so many things so often. We were looking. When you were young, you’re impulsive, and the little things get bloated. This time around, Mark, Dennis, me and Jason’s line-up felt like it was their own thing. You focus on the things that really matter, that is, the chemistry with which you play with certain people and the ability to use that familiarity to take more risks. “

The band’s fan base remains strong, as indicated by their busy show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City last month. In their live performances as well as on their last two records, the group strikes a delicate balance between honoring their past and looking to the future. “The day I make my last record or take my last breath,” said Wynn, “people will talk about The days of wine and roses, And it’s a good thing. I’m proud to have done this. But I think we’re excited to know where we’re going. Effectively, the people who love our music then hear the new music and say, “Wow, thank you for stepping up and challenging us a bit. We will go there. It’s a nice feeling. “

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