artist profile

“What he took from punk had more to do with attitude, noisy energy, abyss-skirting emotions and musical riskiness–qualities, of course, present in the best rock and roll of any scene, era or sub-genre” – Trouser Press Music Guide

In 25 years, Wynn has released at least that many albums and has seen over 300 of his songs recorded. He has played over 2000 shows in more than 25 countries. His songs have been recorded and/or performed by REM, Luna, Concrete Blonde, The Black Crowes, Yo La Tengo and Eleventh Dream Day, among others; his “That’s Why I Wear Black” became the #1 single of 1993 in Norway as the leadoff track from the debut album by Somebody’s Darling. He has been prominently featured in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Uncut, Entertainment Weekly, People, The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and countless other publications all over the world.

Or maybe you know Wynn from his groundbreaking work with The Dream Syndicate, a band that–along with REM and the Replacements–practically invented the American indie rock scene of the 1980s. Perhaps you know Wynn from his critically acclaimed solo albums of the 1990s which were fixtures on many Modern Rock radio stations across the country. Or it could be from his highly touted side-project Gutterball which by its fifth gig found itself signed to Mute/Elektra and on a national tour with The Black Crowes. Or maybe from his recent “Desert Trilogy” and the near-legendary shows with his current backing band The Miracle 3. Or maybe you tuned in for the first time when he played on the Late Show With David Letterman as part of The Baseball Project earlier this year.

In the midst of such a prolific recording career, Wynn has still found time to average over 100 shows a year all over the world. He has found himself as welcome in Rome, Oslo, Athens, Brussels, London and Madrid as he has in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. And for the devoted fans he has made in these and many other cities, his extensive discography of music reflects the consensus among fans: that Steve Wynn is one of the most adventurous, accomplished and exciting songwriters of the last few decades. If all of this is still news to you, just put on this cd and get ready to join the legions of people who have enjoyed Wynn’s dazzling display of songs over the last 25 years.


“I paint the same way I write songs.  There’s an initial furious burst of action where I can barely hang on while the inspiration demands to be captured.  That part doesn’t take all that long.  What takes time is what comes next.  Adding, subtracting, changing, updating, objectively knowing how what is front of me fits in with what I love and what I hate and using whatever skills and tools I have to shift the balance between the two along the way.

Of course, there is one big difference.  I’ve been writing songs since I was nine years old and it has been my day job for the last four decades.  I have a lot of implements in the tool chest and even though the spark doesn’t always come, I have enough tricks to help me take what’s there and bring it to the finish line.

I started painting regularly in 1987, around the time The Dream Syndicate was working on Ghost Stories.  It was fun, it was random, it was a mystery and the stakes were low, as opposed to whatever perceived expectations there may have been on my songwriting from my bandmates, label and fans.

The freedom I feel when painting reflects back on my music.  I usually paint and work on music at the same time, bouncing back and forth from one to the other, the canvas drying while I’m strumming guitar, new paint being applied while the song ideas are marinating.

Most of all, painting reminds me that none of it matters which means that it matters all that much more.  Being an independent musician (albeit one with, thankfully, a solid and loyal following) and existing just below the radar means I can do whatever I want and the more I satisfy myself usually means the more my fans will like what I’ve done.  Now that my paintings are getting a bit of attention, I try to bring that same lesson back to the canvas.

I still feel the same way about painting.  It’s playtime, there’s no right or wrong—just that I have fun and that I am satisfied.  Being a child, eliminating the filters, making myself laugh or cry—that’s all that matters.  The main thing is to know your aesthetic.  know the things you like and the things you don’t.  Use whatever tools you have–no matter how primitive or rudimentary–to help you navigate that decision.  It’s what I do when I write songs, when I take a guitar solo or play on stage, when I cook dinner and, yes, when I apply paint to canvas.”

Steve Wynn