Clip: Steve Wynn segues from wine and roses to ticking bombs.
Don't Dream It's Over
Steve Wynn segues from wine and roses to ticking bombs.
By Rob Trucks
Article Published Mar 1, 2006
To properly place the career of Steve Wynn -- the
guitarist-singer-songwriter, not the Vegas hotel magnate -- you have
to go back to the early '80s, when he fled UC Davis for Los Angeles
and became frontman for the Dream Syndicate. As such, he became the
official face of the Paisley Underground, an LA-based grouping of
bands like the Rain Parade, the Three O'Clock, and Game Theory, all
propelling a tumultuous tangle of Velvet Underground cool and jangly
pop. The Syndicate's debut, 1982's Days of Wine and Roses --
especially lead track "Tell Me When It's Over," with its hypnotically
simplistic guitar lead -- remains a bold and crucial marker on the
alt-rock growth chart. It was beloved long after the Syndicate
disbanded in 1989, pointing Wynn toward a vast, challenging solo
career that yet endures, though with occasional difficulty.
Alas, the weight of accomplished youth.
"It's not an albatross," Wynn says from his home in New York City,
"because I'm really proud of the Dream Syndicate. It's not something
I'm trying to live down. What was frustrating for a long time was,
until I made [2001's heavily praised platter] Here Come the Miracles,
I was kind of forever being gauged by the Days of Wine and Roses
record I made when I was 22. And no matter what I did, it seemed that
people just saw that as the record that mattered."
And so, while Wynn is overtly unobsessed with obliterating his own
past, following the Syndicate's 1989 dissolution he made a
cross-culture, cross-country move to the Big Apple and, after a
handful and a half of solo efforts, locked down his second band, the
Miracle 3. Ironically enough, this new band helped release Wynn from
his iconic old one -- by revisiting its music on a near-nightly basis.
"When Days of Wine and Roses got reissued, we would play new songs for
one set, take a break, and play Days of Wine and Roses all the way
through," Wynn says. "And this band plays Days of Wine and Roses
better than the Dream Syndicate ever did. Flat out. Everything that
was good about that band this band does better, and everything that
was bad this band avoids. It's just a better band for that kind of
music, even. So in a way it takes a little bit of the desire away from
Which doesn't mean that movement isn't a good thing. Despite a
veteran's level of comfort on both musical coasts, Wynn took his
current troupe to Tucson's Wavelab Studios -- recording home of Giant
Sand's Howe Gelb, as well as the recent Iron & Wine/Calexico EP -- in
search of a sound he properly proclaims as "loud and raw and huge and
Thus the three Miracle 3 releases, including the third and most
recent, ... Tick ... Tick ... Tick, have become an effectual Tucson
Trilogy. And the result is reminiscent not so much of the
aforementioned Wine and Roses, but the Syndicate's thicker, darker,
and rootsier follow-up, Medicine Show.
"Tucson, in general, couldn't be more the opposite of New York," Wynn
concludes. "New York is so all about getting on top of things and
staying up to speed with a very fast city. And Tucson's just
laid-back. You get more in touch with what you're doing. And, you
know, things are so slow and so lazy and so kind of chaotic half the
time that you can experience every moment." Including Wynn's most
important moment: right now.
Who / What:
Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3 play a special early show Sunday at
Albany's Ivy Room. $7, 4 p.m. 510-524-9220 or IvyRoom.com
They also play Monday at SF's Cafe du Nord. $16, 9 p.m. CafeduNord.com