In the last 15 years or so, Dean Wareham has officially established himself as one of the indie-alternative pantheon’s more striking musicians. During his tenure as singer and guitarist for Galaxie 500, he virtually invented the dream pop’s trademarked Velvet Underground-meets-AM-radio style, exerting an influence that can be heard in bands as disparate as My Bloody Valentine and Low. It was this style-part cloudy day, part ray of sunshine-that he would begin to hone and perfect in 1991 with the inauguration of Luna, a band with whom he would eventually sign to a major label, leave a major label and release eight records (including this year’s excellent Rendezvous). After 12 years of fuzzy melodies and Lou Reed-style speak-singing, though, Wareham has decided to put his well-loved band to rest.
The Last Rendezvous
Buzz: Are you ready for the final tour?
DW: Yes, I’m ready. We played a show in New Jersey this weekend and we’ve been to Japan, as well, took a little trip over there. I’m looking forward to it. I was kind of nervous-I think we all were-after making the announcement that it was going to be the last tour. It comes with a certain pressure. It’s a strange experience; you’re up there onstage and playing the songs is just slightly different now. But it’s good. It makes it more poignant. I feel like it makes me put more of myself into each performance, knowing that it’s the last time in each city.
Buzz: So there’s a certain sense of finality to it?
DW: Yeah. It’s not like it’s, ‘Oh, here we are again, here are these songs again.’
Buzz: Well, then there’s the obvious question: Why are you guys ‘debanding,’ as you put it?
DW: There’s many different reasons, but the basic reason is: ‘That’s what bands do.’ It’s part of the equation. You start a band and then it ends at some point. I mean, the ‘band’ is a relatively new invention. It’s only been around since the ’60s. Most people who keep doing it very long are making millions of dollars. And then it’s something more than a band, it’s a corporation. Like Metallica, they can’t break that up. It’s worth too much money. How can you break up a thing when they’re giving you $20 million for your next record?
Buzz: When did you decide it was time to pack things up?
DW: I think it was in the back of my mind before we did this record. I’ve thought about it before; again, when you’re in a relationship this long, there are times that you feel like walking out of it, just like people who are married go through their ups and downs. And my life has changed a lot. I had a kid, so that makes it different. When you’re in your 20s, you’re completely free to pick up and go wherever and it doesn’t matter if you don’t make a cent. If you tour around and come home with $5, it’s OK. But stuff becomes a little more difficult when you have responsibilities in your life.
Buzz: But you’re going to continue making music.
DW: Yeah, I’m going to continue making music, just tour less, probably. And just not do it in a band format. It becomes difficult to organize your life around a committee of four people. And, again, it would be one thing if that was all you had to do and you were making a ton of money off that. Then it would be relatively easy. But being in a band has its good points, too. It’s undeniable.
I’m Not Your Astronaut
Buzz: As far as future projects, I know you recorded a duet record with (Luna bassist) Britta Phillips. Do you have plans to do another one? Or plans for the future in general?
DW: The next thing I’ll do after we finish touring, which won’t be until February, will be starting to write songs for another record with Britta. What else should I do? Work on my golf game, I guess. I was improving at the end of the summer; I finally got the hang of it. (Laughs) I’m doing some soundtrack work, too. I’ll be available; people, they can call me up and I’ll sing the ‘ba ba ba!’ in the back of their records. Maybe there will be a record with Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3-we’ve been talking about it. And I shall write my memoirs. They gave Bill Clinton $10 million. What do you think they’ll give me?
Buzz: (Laughs) I’ve noticed, with this record and all of your records, critics have tended to say that you have a really consistent sound-strong, but consistent. When you’re looking back on the band, how do you feel?
DW: I think we’ve had ups and downs. I guess none of the records are horrible. I would say that with the first record we did, Lunapark, we weren’t really a band yet, and you can feel that, even though there’s some good songs on there. I like Bewitched, and I think we really hit our stride with Penthouse. Pup Tent is a really cool sounding record, but I don’t think the songs are that great. Days of Our Nights, I haven’t really listened to in a while. That’s not one of my favorites. But the last two, Rendezvous and Romantica, I’m rather fond of.
Buzz: I know that you’re making a documentary of the last tour.
DW: Yes, we are, we’re making a film. Matthew Buzzell-he made a documentary about a jazz singer named Little Jimmy Scott-he’s a friend of the band. He’s always around, prodding us. It’s kind of like that MTV TV show. The Real World? Because there’s no action, there’s nothing going on. He’s just trying to get me to be a dick to people. He’s like, ‘Go yell at that taxi driver.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not going to go yell at him.’ He’s trying to build the story that I am a mean person. I can be mean and grumpy, I guess.
Buzz: Why are you putting it together? Do you just need that final document to look back upon?
DW: If we don’t, nobody will. The live shows will disappear forever unless you make some attempts to document them. And this friend of ours is a good filmmaker. It’s not quite a ‘documentary,’ it’s going to have some other strange, dreamlike things. We’re supposedly going to script some stuff, though we haven’t yet. But we snap at each other in the van. There’s stuff that’s happened. It could all come out.
Luna will play the Highdive on Tuesday with Palomar. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15.