Friday, July 20th at Le Poisson Rouge at 7:30pm w/TEEN – $22 at the door
Saturday night, The Shine a Light Music Festival will pair up-and-comersThe War on Drugs with the great Dean and Britta at Mulcahy’s as a fundraiser. To make things even more special, guitarist Sean Eden is expected to join Dean and Britta onstage for a rare Luna reunion.
On Record Store Day (April 21, 2012) Double Feature Records will release limited edition (1,000 copies)
180-gram vinyl LPs of Luna’s Romantica and Rendezvous albums. Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, NYC, we just got test pressings in; they sound great and the images by Chas Ray Krider and Steve Ellis look beautiful too. These albums were originally on compact disc only; this is the first time they’ve been on vinyl. Each LP will come with a card for a free download of the entire album plus the new bonus material we released digitally a few months ago.
As this is a record-store-day exclusive, we will not be selling the LPs online, they are only available in stores. Click here to find a participating store where you can get your Luna vinyl:
There is more Luna vinyl to come later in 2012 — Bewitched will get its first-ever vinyl release on the Gotta Groove label. Release date not yet confirmed but it will be early this summer. Also in the pipeline though likely not till 2013 — vinyl for Penthouse.
Luna digital re-issues and bonus tracks out now on Double Feature Records:
Free download – “Neon Lights” (Kraftwerk cover):
For the first time ever the final three releases by NYC quartet Luna are available on iTunes (also on Amazon, Emusic, Rhapsody and Bandcamp. Originally recorded for Jetset Records, the three titles are Romantica (2002), Rendezvous (2005) and the mini-LP Close Cover Before Striking (2002). Each album includes new bonus tracks; unreleased B-sides and covers including Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days.”
Romantica adds 3 tracks; the never-released “Mystic Rattlers” and alternate versions of “Lovedust” and “Renée is Crying.”
Close Cover Before Striking is expanded from 7 tracks to 9 with the addition of Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days” and Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed,” to complement Luna’s versions of the Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” and Kraftwerk’s “Neon Lights.”
Luna’s final album Rendezvous adds 5 bonus tracks: the rare German 7” “Eyes in My Smoke,” three unreleased studio demos and a re-mix of “Speedbumps” by Lee Wall.
Romantica rides the same relaxed-to-languorous groove Luna has spent a decade perfecting, kissed by Wareham’s dry martini voice and drenched in his and Sean Eden’s liquid guitars. – Michelangelo Matos, 2002
Luna’s allegedly last studio album (Rendezvous) is astonishing, their best since 1995’s Penthouse. The band has arrived at a pleasant, Television-on-Xanax variant of indie-rock that’s smart, sexy, and sophisticated. — Mike McGonigal
Long time no e-mail and say hello Dean!
How are you? Thank you very much for invite me at your concert on October in Tokyo.
I am so happy to see you again at your concert. You looks very fine and almost satisfactory on your life. How long will you stay in Japan/Tokyo? Are you busy in Japan?
About me: I am not fine after the earthquake very much. It was so terribly happen. I have felt so sad and scared for a long time. I become nervous. I have not good sleep, any time crying. And became unable to make music and sing song directly from after the earthquake. I am a little worry about that I wonder I never make music again, some time.
Now I am better than before, but not perfect.
Music is saved me any time. I wish/believe it is so, also this time.
I never made it to Japan with Galaxie 500 in the summer of 1991 because I had quit the band in April, just a few months before we were scheduled to tour there. Unbeknownst to me, the promoter had already put tickets on sale for a Tokyo show. Unbeknownst to him, I had decided I didn’t want to be in my own band anymore.
Twenty years later I am playing these songs again but with a different trio, comprising my wife, Britta, on bass guitar and a drummer, Anthony, from Youngstown. The very same promoter booked two shows for us in Japan. After a four-month postponement on account of the earthquake (the first time I’ve ever seen the act-of-God clause in my contract applied), I finally found myself on an American Airlines flight from JFK to Tokyo. Anthony is growing a beard, starting today. “That way people will think it was a really life-changing trip when I get home,” he says.
I haven’t seen a plane this empty since 1976, and the flight attendants seem pleased that it’s going to be a quiet flight but nervous about rumors that the airline may soon file for bankruptcy.
“They want us to take another pay cut,” says the nice lady serving me my meal. “But we have given back too many times already. We can’t do it again.”
I am reading The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto by Kenji Nakagami and settle in with an erotic tale called “Red Hair”: It is a rainy morning and Kozo’s mysterious new girlfriend insists that they must go back to bed and have more sex. Because who knows how long it will rain like this?
It is raining too when we arrive at the Hotel Excel Shibuya. From our room high up we can see the square where hundreds of people cross in twenty different directions when the lights change.
Our friend Yoriko has arranged tickets for us to see the Yomiuri Giants game tonight. She meets us in the lobby and takes us to the Shibuya subway station, where we pass by the bronze statue of the celebrated faithful dog who, for nine years, came to this station at the same time each day to wait for his deceased master.
The game starts at 6 P.M. so we find ourselves riding the subway during rush hour. We are packed in with hardly any space to move and yet at the next stop twenty more people manage to get on. “Not so bad today,” says Yoriko.
The Tokyo Dome looks rather like the Metrodome in Minneapolis, shabby in the way that indoor stadiums are. One notable difference here: glass-walled smoking booths in the food-court area where you can get a fix between innings.
Yoriko watches every single home game from her front-row seat behind the first-base dugout and is on a wave-hello basis with a few of the Giants’ players. The Giants have a large and very vocal contingent in the bleachers who sing a different song for each Giant who comes to bat. But out in the left-field bleachers their opponents, the Yokohama BayStars, have their own singing fans. It is an awful lot of singing for what Yoriko assures me is a meaningless late-season game. Yokohama go up 5-1 in the seventh inning, and since we are fighting jetlag I suggest to Yoriko that maybe we could beat the traffic out of here, with the Giants being down by four runs and all. Yoriko dismisses this idea with a firm no; she doesn’t leave games early. No one else does either. Her optimism (or more accurately, loyalty) is almost borne out; the Giants fight back to 5-4 on a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. But then their luck ran out, and we hustled through the rain to the Suidobashi Station and back to Shibuya.
Yoriko takes us on a little wander in search of a late dinner. There’s a small sushi restaurant next door to a sex-toy emporium, but Britta says she doesn’t want to eat sushi right next to the sex shop so we find another.
Baseball games start at 6 P.M.; rock shows start at 7 P.M. I prefer this to taking the stage at 11 P.M.on a Thursday night in Philadelphia. Backstage at the Liquid Room, we are trying to staying awake before the show, eating rice cakes and unusual candy bars and staring at the poster of Kurt and Courtney on the wall, and I wonder whether I should drink a shot of something, as is my habit to loosen up before going onstage, or whether I should drink a cold can of Boss coffee because it feels like seven o’clock in the morning (which it is back home). I decide on a shot of Suntory whisky with a coffee chaser.
From the stage tonight I notice three different people crying as I sing “Blue Thunder,” which is a song about the power-steering action in my old 1975 Dodge Dart and doesn’t quite seem worth crying about, though admittedly it is also a song about being alone behind the wheel, and I wail about driving “so far away,” so maybe that’s what did it.
I recently played this song in São Paulo and young Brazilians sang and smiled and danced; it’s odd that the same song evokes smiles in São Paulo and tears in Tokyo. Of course there can be joy and sadness in a song at the same moment, and when you have been waiting five or ten or twenty years to hear a song live, it can hit you with surprising force.
After the show we chat with my musician friend A., who is all cried out and is now in a giddy, happy mood, and to another fellow who has saved his ticket from the show that never happened in 1991 and says he never imagined he would hear the songs live. He gives me a pack of what he says are rare, discontinued Japanese cigarettes, which is good because I have no idea what kind of cigarettes I should buy here.
The Asagiri Jam Festival takes place each year on a hillside in the shadow of Mount Fuji and sells out before they even announce who is playing. (Except for this year, because apparently the Japanese economy has not recovered from the crisis caused by the quake.)
Everyone here is camping; they come for the festival experience, that feeling of a rock-show community that, frankly, I never quite get myself. We see stylish Japanese hippies, clad like magical elves in wool, tights, shorts, and brightly colored hiking boots. Tents everywhere, a few people passed out sleeping on the grass while the bands play on. The one thing we cannot see is Mount Fuji, which is hidden by the clouds.
They don’t have big headlining rock acts like Coldplay or the Kings of Leon at Asagiri; instead they have Japanese funk by nattily dressed guys called Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, Afrobeat from Seun Kuti (Fela’s youngest son), and DJ Shadow and DJ Scratchy. Also: dogs, children, frisbees, balloons, and a giant inflatable octopus.
I’m accustomed to playing festival slots either in the middle of the afternoon or at two in the morning, but today we get that prime early evening slot where day turns to night over the course of the hour on stage. It has been thrilling (well, not every night, but tonight certainly) to sing songs that I have barely touched for twenty years, like I too am traveling back through time, singing about girlfriends and automobiles past, and in a loud, high-pitched wail I didn’t know I still possessed.
Dean Wareham is a musician and writer. His memoir, Black Postcards, is now a Penguin paperback and his latest CD is 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.
With live footage from “Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500″ show at Le Flèche D’or on 2-19-11
2011 is a big year for the number 20. Pearl Jam recently blew out their 20th birthday candles. Nirvana’s Nevermind just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary of “changing the world”. And yet, unlike the grunge kings whose current popularity is nowhere near like what it was at the height of their career in the early ’90s, Galaxie 500, who mark the 20th anniversary of their break up this year, seem to be experiencing a level of popularity unlike anytime they were actually playing together.
Galaxie 500 only had a lifespan of three albums and five years, never achieving much commercial success. However, what they lacked in album sales they made up for in critical acclaim and influence, including having their album On Fire score a perfect 10 review from Pitchfork and place at number 16 on the website’s Top 100 Albums Of The 1980s list
Dean Wareham, Galaxie 500′s frontman and author of the memoir Black Postcards, which detailed his time in both Galaxie 500 and his next band Luna, will soon head to Australian shores for a special tour playing Galaxie 500 music.
Our very own jet-setting reporter Rav recently emailed a few questions to Dean asking him about why he thinks his former band’s music is generating so much interest now, if he thinks the band will ever reform for a tour and what kind of emotions he’s experiencing playing this music 20 years on.
What made you decide you wanted to tour Galaxie 500 music again?
I performed a set of Galaxie 500 songs at the request of a festival promoter in Spain and really enjoyed the experience. And then I agreed to do it in Atlanta and from there more requests started coming in and it just seemed like I might as well take it on tour; it is 20 years since those records were released and that is a nice, round number.
How have the shows been received so far?
Well, the people who come to the shows seem to really enjoy them and it’s fun to look out and see people singing along to every song and talk to people who say they never ever thought they would hear these songs live.
How are you feeling personally being out there and playing Galaxie 500 songs? What kind of emotions are you experiencing?
I am enjoying it — knowing that it will end soon. As a performer you probably reflect the emotions given you by your audience and those have been very positive.
There’s been a lot of interest generated in the band, particularly over the last couple of years with blog interest and sites like Pitchfork giving the band a lot of coverage. And yet, it has been around 20 years since you broke up. What do you think has regenerated this interest in Galaxie 500?
I suppose things go in and out of musical fashion. There has always been interest in the band, but it does seem like Galaxie 500 is bigger than ever; also Domino Records did a really good job with the reissues.
There was an article on the band published on Pitchfork last year where you and the other members were interviewed and it felt like, especially with Damon, there was still a lot of blame placed on you for the break-up of the band. Is that why you guys still haven’t reformed — you haven’t resolved your issues?
I don’t think there is any need to assign blame, it was time to end it. Galaxie 500 broke up, just like all bands do (even R.E.M.!) because we weren’t enjoying each other and yes did not resolve our issues but I intuited in 1991 that this was not really possible. Instead of resolving our issues we went our separate ways and that’s the way life is sometimes and it’s nobody’s fault.
Your book, Black Postcards (great fucking book by the way) came out a few years ago now and addressed a lot of the issues you had within the group and answered a lot of questions over why you left the band — did that serve any purpose in repairing your relationship with Damon and Naomi?
Honestly, I doubt it repaired anything but you don’t write a book to repair past relationships. Really my only aim was making the book as good as I possibly could.
Do you think there’s ever a chance of the band reforming for a tour?
No, I don’t think any of us would want to do that. I like David Byrne’s comment when asked about Talking Heads re-forming, he asks would you want to get back together with your girlfriend from high school? I suppose that could be fun but more likely it would be strange and would end badly.
We play a song from the most recent Dean & Britta album, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. But mostly we are sticking to the concept.
You’ve been a working/touring musician in a time when the music industry has completely changed. You articulated a lot of your frustrations with record labels and the way the music industry was run in Black Postcards, have you welcomed the change in the industry and do you think the advent of online music sharing/piracy has partially resulted in the resurgence of Galaxie 500?
I may have complained about this or that incident, but I don’t have any major complaints with the record labels I was on, indie and major both. I liked the people that we worked with closely, the A&R people who signed us, the managers who worked on our behalf; they were all doing it for the love of the music. As for the changes in the industry, there are good and bad things. Obviously there has been a huge transfer of wealth from record companies over to computer companies and internet service providers and the like. It’s not been good for actually selling your music (because it’s so easy to steal it) but sure it makes it easier for people all around the world to discover music that previously was very hard to track down.
Have you ever been approached by anyone with interest in making a Galaxie 500 documentary? It seems there would be plenty of people willing to be interviewed.
No. I think the documents are out there — many hours of live shows that comprised Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste but I don’t think it would be a very interesting film, it all happened so quickly and nobody committed suicide or anything.
You released Thirteen Most Beautiful Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests earlier this year, how did that project come about and what was the experience of recording those songs like?
We were commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to compose songs and score for these short silent portrait films that Warhol made between 1964 and 1966. It was unlike anything else we have done, almost as if we were making a music video, but making it backwards, starting with the film and then writing a song to make sense of it. They are beautiful films, so that made it exciting, and we’re very happy with the album that came out of it.
What’s your next project post the Galaxie 500 tour?
Recording a Christmas single. And then a solo album.
And finally, a little off topic, I know you’re a Lou Reed fan, what do you think of the Lou Reed and Metallica pairing?
We will all have to wait and see. It’s an odd idea, you have to admire Lou for taking the risk and maybe Metal Machine Music and Metallica belong together.
Dean Wareham Australian Tour
Tuesday, October 11: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Wednesday, October 12: Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Interview: Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500
Written by Liam Demamiel
Dean Wareham needs little by way of fanfare or introduction. The frontman of lauded band Galaxie 500 spoke to Liam Demamiel about performing the past on his Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 tour.
One Thirty BPM (Liam Demamiel): Galaxie 500 split in 1991. Why now for revisiting the material?
Dean Wareham: It’s 20 years since those records first came out. It seems like a good round number (laughs). I first did it about a year ago at a Spanish festival. The promoter wanted me to come over and do a set of Galaxie 500 songs. I did it and the band sounded really good. I had a good time. I had done all the work and re-learnt all of the songs, and I thought that if I don’t do it now I probably never would. I want to do it while I can still hit the high notes (laughs).
How does it feel playing the songs again?
At first it was strange, but as times gone on I have gotten used to it. Yeah. It is both strange and emotional. When you pick up a song again that you haven’t played in years it’s … it can be difficult. It’s interesting having to go back and sing in a completely different style. I think over the years my vocal style has become much more lower and quieter. When doing the Galaxie 500 songs I have to sing very loud…
And very high!
Yes, and very high (laughs).
The songs were obviously the product of a certain period in your life. Have their meanings changed for you?
Some of the songs were specifically about someone else – a girlfriend at the time and other people back then. Your relationships with the songs naturally change but I think that they have held up fairly well over time. You just don’t find that with some bands, you know like the Sex Pistols in 1977. I think their music is kind of odd and jarring now. The Galaxie 500 songs are more about experiences and emotions and sadness, I don’t think that gets old.
What has the crowd response been like?
The crowds have been great, and it has varied from country to country. We went to Brazil and played the songs in Sao Paolo. There were 900 people singing along to every single song… that was just weird. It’s just bizarre to think that you’re able to come back with the songs and hear that when you are on stage all these years later.
Do you find that the performance dynamics are different? Are you more like a bandleader than a band member?
Yeah that’s true I suppose. In the band as it is currently constituted I am in a couple with my wife Britta and our drummer is the ‘lone man’ in the band. I think it must be hard for him sometimes, he must suffer when we are out touring (laughs). Musically, I feel like we have worked really hard to make the songs sound good and to make them work live – analysing them to figure out what works and what doesn’t. They feel pretty close to the way Galaxie 500 used to play them.
Is there any one album in particular that you prefer playing?
I stay away from certain songs just because they don’t work live. But I don’t think you can know those songs immediately after you have finished a record. What we have been performing is split fairly evenly across the three records.
How do Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang (Galaxie 500’s drummer and bassist) feel about the tour?
(Laughs) I am sure they don’t particularly like it. We communicate on a business level, but I don’t feel like I have to run things by them for their approval or anything. That’s why I left the band, so I wouldn’t have to do that. I am sure that they would have their own views… but such is life.
So we shouldn’t hold our hopes for a reunion?
No, this is the closest we are going to get. I have tried to explain it to people by asking them to imagine going and getting back together with their high school girlfriend of seventeen or something. Think about it, it could be interesting… but do you really need to?
As time has gone on the albums have come to be held in high critical esteem. How do you feel about this?
I think the records have aged well. When they first came out we didn’t really think of ourselves as a great band or anything (laughs). I look back on everything else that came out in 1988 and 89 and think that those were amongst the best records that were being made.
Do you place much stock in critical opinion?
Pitchfork gave On Fire 10 out of 10 and well, that’s nice to hear! You can look at the critic and see what else they like, but after all it is just someone’s opinion. I have my own tastes, it is not going to make me cry if a critic doesn’t like it.
You were one of the first of your musical ‘generation’ to publish an autobiography. How did this come about?
I got an email from a senior editor at Penguin, asking if I had thought about writing a book. I had thought about writing something, and had a few chapters. But if I hadn’t have got that offer who knows if I would have ever finished it. That call was really the impetus for it happening. It was right after I had finished with Luna, my second band. It came at a time when I actually had time to sit down and write a book.
What was it like looking back through the past?
I had diaries that I had kept throughout the Galaxie 500 years, but there were some spells where I didn’t have much to go on. You tend to sit down and write when you are upset or when things are getting you down. But I had some tour diaries on our website and I found an online listing of every show the band had ever done. Looking at the club names and cities was really helpful, it brought a lot of memories back.
How did you find the writing process?
It was good. It was a lot more difficult than writing a song. You know as a writer that it is scary to put yourself out there and express an opinion. From the moment you write something there are going to be people who just get angry at you for what you have written, you know ‘who does he think he is’ or ‘what a bunch of shit’ (laughs). It is really different from writing a poem or a song. It is trying to express your thoughts clearly about something that happened a long time ago. It’s not easy.
What’s next? Are you still going to be touring the 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Any Warhol’s Screen Tests show?
As long as they keep booking shows we will play them! We did the show all around Australia and have just come back from doing it in Portland, and soon we are doing it at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. It has been three years doing that show and I think it will start to slow down.
Have you been working on new Dean and Britta material?
No, not really (laughs). We have been touring so much but I think it is at a stage in our schedule when it is time to make a new record.