On Sept. 5, 1982, the Dream Syndicate played a 2 a.m. gig at the studios of L.A.’s KPFK-FM. Broadcast live, the raw, ragged set documented on The Day Before Wine And Roses (Omnivore) found the quartet—singer/guitarist Steve Wynn, guitarist Karl Precoda, bassist Kendra Smith and drummer Dennis Duck—blazing and brooding its way through songs from its self-titled debut EP, covers and tracks that would end up on the seminal The Days Of Wine And Roses LP, released a month and a half later. A reconvened version of the Dream Syndicate has been playing shows since 2012. Wynn is also busy with his national pastime-themed band, the Baseball Project, whose third record, the aptly titled 3rd (Yep Roc), is due later this month. Wynn is also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.
Wynn: It’s still hard to believe that he’s gone. Lou Reed’s death hit me harder than any I can remember outside of family and friends. I met him twice. We talked guitar pedals for 30 seconds backstage at the Bottom Line (I knew that was a subject to which he would respond without disdain), and another time at Town Hall; our mutual bass player Fernando Saunders tried to put us together for a chat after the show. It didn’t work. Lou extended a dead-fish handshake and walked out of the room without even looking at me. Doesn’t matter. The experience matched the myth as expected.
I spent the first year of the Dream Syndicate growing wearier and wearier of Lou/Velvets comparisons. It was annoying. We were ripping off so many other bands that it didn’t seem fair to isolate one. But it was true—they were a huge influence. And I later realized that being compared to the Velvets, especially at a time when hardly any bands were being accused of such a thing, was very flattering.
I have so many favorite Lou Reed songs and favorite Lou Reed albums—some obvious, some not so much. (I really love The Bells.) But one of my favorite Lou performances ever is not even a Lou Reed song. Check out his version of “Foot Of Pride” from the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary concert back in 1992. What a version, what a groove, what an amazing vocal, maybe one of my favorite vocal performances of all time. He was still curious, still evolving, still taking chances—it’s a shame that we won’t get to see what was coming next.