We emailed a few questions to Luna's singer/songwriter Dean Wareham in advance of their show in town this week. Please check our website for a short playlist of Wareham's top Detroit-related songs.
Metro Times: How much shit did you get for getting Luna back together 10 years after having played a final breakup tour? Also, why did you get back together?
Dean Wareham: I maybe felt a little sheepish doing a farewell tour and now being back exactly 10 years later, but no one really seems to care; you are the first one to ask about it. Why? Well, people did keep asking, and a few promoters started asking. One guy said why don't you come down and perform a Luna album by yourself but it doesn't really make sense to play Luna songs without Sean Eden on guitar. Also this year, the Captured Tracks label is putting together a box set of the first five Luna albums on vinyl. Since we were active in the '90s, our label (Elektra) never bothered with vinyl as it wasn't deemed profitable. So for all these reasons, and because we actually get along better now than in 2004, it seemed like it would be fun to do a commemorative tour.
MT: Will there be new music from Luna anytime soon? What have the shows been like?
Wareham: We are not planning on going into the studio. There are seven studio albums and a number of EPs. I think that's enough for one band. I did recently release (on Bandcamp) some early Luna demos, which I recorded right after Galaxie 500 (my first band, I think you know of us) broke up. The A&R guy who signed Luna, Terry Tolkin, is gravely ill, and I actually put these demos on sale to help pay his medical expenses — that's where all the money is going. He was responsible for us making a living all through the '90s (he also signed bands like Stereolab, Unrest, and Scrawl) so this is the least I can do.
The shows are just starting, but the audiences are crazy enthusiastic. And though Luna has always been a good live band, I think now we sound better than ever. My friend Ignacio Julia told me the band rolls more now, and I hope that's true. As Keith Richards often points out, it's OK to rock but you can't forget to roll.
MT: What's the biggest difference between being in a touring band now versus the early 1990s?
Wareham: It's a whole different world. One big change is there is no more tour support — you know, when your label would give you money to offset touring expenses, because back then touring was the cheapest and best way to promote your new release. These days, that equation has flipped. If anything, you release something to promote a tour, but selling compact discs or even downloads is unlikely. Last night in Atlanta, we sold 50 T-shirts and one CD! Steve Albini recently opined that the Internet has been a great thing for bands, because it has removed the intermediary (the label) and allows you to interact directly with your fans and let them know what you're doing and where you are playing. Which is true for a band with a dedicated following, like us. But I am not sure things are so rosy for bands starting out.
MT: Any film projects going on lately? What else have you been working on?
Wareham: My wife (and Luna member) Britta Phillips and I just scored Noah Baumbach's excellent comedy Mistress America, and I have a small role in the film; I play a pediatrician. And I've been working with the Andy Warhol Museum on a film/music project that involves rare and unseen short films by Warhol, and pairing them with musical performances by Tom Verlaine, Martin Rev, Eleanor Friedberger, Bradford Cox, and myself. Some of these films are actual home movies that Warhol made — for instance there is footage of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and others hanging out on the sofa at Warhol's Factory. And Britta just finished a solo album, which I play some guitar on. That will come out early next year.
MT: Your memoir Black Postcards showed that you can write well; where's your second book?
Wareham: Lately, while I wait for a good idea for a second book, I've been writing for Salon. I confess I find writing nonfiction harder than writing songs. With songs you don't really have to think clearly or express your opinions — you can hide behind songs. But you also have a big advantage in being able to set them to music, which can add weight to words that might have no weight when simply printed on a page. Writing the book gave me a new respect for writers — whether historians or rock critics.
Luna plays St. Andrew's Hall on Thu., October 15; doors at 8 p.m.; 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-8137; $20.