THEY'RE the best American rock band you've never heard of, writes Ged Babey as he talks to Steve Wynn from The Dream Syndicate, who play the 1865 on Thursday.

Contemporaries of REM, The Dream Syndicate formed Los Angeles in 1981 and were part of the ‘Paisley Underground’ – a wave of American guitar bands influences by psychedelia –the most successful of which were the Bangles, who soon outgrew the genre. Green on Red, The Long Ryders and the Rain Parade remain ‘cult bands’ as did the Dream Syndicate who called it a day in 1989 after four studio albums and critical acclaim.

2017 sees a reformed Dream Syndicate release a critically acclaimed new album, How Did I Find Myself Here? And twenty-nine years on from the last and touring the world, calling at Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and among only 4 UK dates, Southampton.

Do you know much about Southampton? I asked Steve Wynn.

SW: "I can’t get “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” out of my head. "

The opening line is of course, “ Standing in the dock at Southampton…” Steve later sends me a shaky video of him playing the song with Peter Buck and Mike Mills from REM at a small club in Athens, Georgia.

The Dream Syndicate are not a band which your average music fan will know perhaps, yet they started out at roughly the same time as REM and U2, both of whom they toured with back in the early 80's. What does Steve remember of those shows?

"The thing that surprises me now is how little we were fazed by playing such big shows in such beautiful, historical theatres with bands who were high on the charts. It all just felt like what came next, part of the overall trajectory. I look back now and think “man, that was really something! We were touring across the country with two of the biggest and most loved bands of the decade. I didn’t think about it much at the time. In both cases we just drove all day showed up and played music that, for different reasons on each tour, was largely confrontation to their core audience. But I’ll tell you one thing., we sure had fun."

Does Steve envy their success?

"No envy, no envy at all. They were built to be superstars and that’s what they became. We were designed to be a cult band. All of our heroes were bands like us—the Velvets, the Stooges, Big Star, the Only Ones, the Gun Club. Those are all bands that played to a limited, select audience in their day and only got recognition after they broke up. It’s more or less the same for us. I’m just glad that we reunited, made a record that we love and that we can take a little victory lap. It’s a very good life. Or, as Kendra says on the new album, “it’s a beautiful dream.”

The Dream Syndicates tour takes in Southampton on Thursday and is sure to be one of the unmissable ‘gigs of the year’ in the city.

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