Welcome to #TBT Mixtape, Billboard’s series that showcases artists’ very own throwback-themed playlists exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. The curated set features the artists’ favorite tracks from their youth and childhood.
This week’s spin comes from The Dream Syndicate. The indie rock legends first came up in the 1980’s Paisley Underground music scene in Los Angeles, alongside acts like The Bangles, Rain Parade and The Three O’Clock. After first parting ways in 1989, the group reunited in 2012 and dropped its first new album in 30 years with 2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here?
The alt-rock outfit is currently in the midst of another album cycle, with their second set of new material — These Times — set for release Friday via label Anti-. Once again recorded at Richmond, Virginia’s Montrose Studios, the set was co-produced by John Agnello (Phosphorescent, Waxahatchee, Dinosaur Jr.), with Wynn penning all the LP’s lyrics in the studio once the band finished tracking, letting the sounds dictate each song concept.
“When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J Dilla,” says the band’s frontman and lead singer-songwriter Steve Wynn. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops — anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.”
To further usher in the These Times-era, Wynn put together this week’s #TBT Mixtape as a “sonic Ouija board” of their influences, and featuring tracks by Television, The Clash, Dr. John and more.
“Definitive is a curse. Concept is a dead end. The only way to a playlist that tells a story is to follow impulse, feel the moment, skip from one groove lily pad to another. A playlist isn’t a mandate,” says Wynn. “I love making mixtapes. I was a DJ before I was making records and still jump on any opportunity to get behind the wheels of steel (even when they’re teeny tiny wheels of steel on an iPad app) at a party or a nightclub. It’s all ephemeral, it’s all in the moment and at this moment, these are my favorite songs from my youth. Subject to change, as the best things always tend to be.”
Give the set a spin and also check out some throwback images of Wynn from the archives.