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You Should Already Know: Dean Wareham

By Dean Wareham; cover photo by Luz Gallard on March 10, 2014

 

You Should Already Know: Dean Wareham


 


WHEN WE KNEW WE WERE GOING TO MAKE IT AS A BAND


I’m not sure if I ever made it as a band, not in the way they usually measure these things. There are no gold records hanging on my wall and I never had a hit at radio (except college radio). But people are still listening to records I made 20-plus years ago, which is its own thing.  


THE HIGH POINT OF OUR CAREER


The high points come every time you make a record. It is those times when somebody does something exciting (a guitar track, a bass note, jingle bells) and the shape of the song changes; it goes from being one thing to being another—sometimes literally within the space of an hour.  


THE LOW POINT OF OUR CAREER


I try not to get too low. In 1999, Luna was dropped first by our label and then by our accountant. But we soon found another label and a new accountant.  


An old photo of me when I was in college and had a pierced ear. Photographer Unknown. 


THE FUNNIEST THING A JOURNALIST EVER WROTE ABOUT US


That I sing like Kermit the Frog.  


WHEN THE JOURNALISTS GOT IT RIGHT


That I have “impressively voluminous hair.”  


BEST SHOW EVER


São Paulo, Brazil, 2012, playing a set of Galaxie 500 songs to people who knew every word.  


WORST SHOW EVER


Battle of the Bands, Harvard University, 1982. I broke a string on my guitar and came in last place in every category. The winning band featured Dan Wilson (future singer in Semisonic and writer of hits for the Dixie Chicks and Adele).  



HOW WE’RE MOST LIKELY TO BE REMEMBERED


As an actor in a Noah Baumbach film.  


HOW WE’D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED 


I heard a scientist on TV say that we’re probably going to destroy the planet within a couple of generations. So it won’t matter.


THE BEST SONG WE EVER WROTE


“Tugboat.” Maybe it’s not the song itself—lyrics and melody—so much as the performance, and what happens when the singing stops and the jam gets jamming. It has been covered many times, including recently by Beck and also by Joanna Gruesome. The lyrics are simple, a repeated verse: “I don’t wanna stay at your party/I don’t wanna talk to your friends/I don’t wanna vote for your president/I just wanna be your tugboat captain.” I wrote that for a girl who couldn’t decide if she liked me or not. I didn’t want to hang out at downtown parties; I wanted to be alone with her. On a boat.  


Dean Wareham Picks 3 of His Records You Should Already Own


Galaxie 500 

On Fire

(1989)

This is the second Galaxie 500 album, recorded in about 10 days, two different sessions, and by this time we had learned how to play our instruments better. Pitchfork recently gave it a score of 10.0 and you can’t get any higher than that.


 

 

Luna

Penthouse 

(1995)

This is Luna’s third album; Patrick Carney of The Black Keys (whose uncle Ralph Carney played saxophone on On Fire, see above) told me it is one of his favorite records. The album features two beautiful guitar solos by Tom Verlaine of Television.

 


 

Dean & Britta

L’Avventura

(2003)

I recorded this album of duets with Britta Phillips. It was produced by Tony Visconti at his studio in New York City and it came out special, quite different from anything I had done with a band. We each wrote a couple of songs and covered Madonna, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Silver Jews, The Doors and Opal. 

This article is from FILTER Issue 55