David Roback and Hope Sandoval talk us through their illustrious career

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Opal, Happy Baby Nightmare sleeve

Roback stayed with the Rain Parade precisely long enough to record a single – 1982’s “What She’s Done To Your Mind?” – and an album, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, the following year. Even before recording the album, Roback had already set in motion another musical project – Clay Allison, formed with his girlfriend and former Dream Syndicate vocalist, Kendra Smith.

“I remember the first Rain Parade tour, when we were in New York City, playing CBGBs with Green On Red,” pinpoints Steven Roback. “We had a couple of days off, and David did the first Clay Allison gig with Kendra at the Pyramid Club. It was David and Kendra, kind of acoustic, and Will [Glenn, Rain Parade’s keyboard player] was playing violin and I was playing piano.”

Clay Allison established the template for Roback’s subsequent work – a kind of dreamy psych-folk. After two EPs, Clay Allison quietly morphed into Opal, who recorded two EPs, Fell From The Sun and Northern Line, and an album, 1987’s Happy Nightmare Baby.

“Happy Nightmare Baby was a very electric record,” explains David Roback. “We were very orientated towards playing live at that point. What we’d been doing before that was very acoustic, and then we thought we’d make it very electric, so we went from being somewhat acoustic to very electric, like Happy Nightmare Baby.”

One admirer of both Roback and Smith’s work was a young music fan, Hope Sandoval, who Steve Wynn remembers “used to come to Dream Syndicate soundchecks, in like ’82, when I think she was like 14 or 15. Her mum would bring her. She couldn’t come to our shows because she was too young. We talked to her and she seemed nice, but I got the feeling that she was particularly mesmerised by Kendra. The beginning of the All About Eve saga!”

“I’ve always loved music,” begins Hope Sandoval. “I grew up with older brothers and sisters who were into music, played The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin. I grew up in an area of East LA… I think it’s called Maravilla area. It’s Spanish. I had a project called Going Home with my good friend Sylvia Gomez, and when we met David and Kendra they knew that we had this little music thing we were doing, and they were interested in it. David asked us if we’d like to go into the studio and make a record. I thought David was shy. Yeah, and sort of mysterious. What do I think connected us? We liked each other’s music. That’s really what it was. We didn’t really communicate a lot other than just enjoying each other’s music. I was asked to do some live shows [with Opal] because Kendra didn’t want to be the front person, and I think it just got really difficult for her. It was during a tour that they were doing with the Jesus And Mary Chain, so I got a call from David asking me if I would fly out to New York and finish the tour. That’s what it was. That’s how I started working with his band.”

  1. 1. Introduction
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