As pop music trends have come and gone, indie-pop icons Luna have happily existed just below the radar for the past decade, surviving a grunge-rock explosion, a teen-pop craze and, now, the garage revival with an effortless grace.
Formed in the wake of the 1991 breakup of Galaxie 500, frontman Dean Wareham’s previous outfit, Luna drew heavily on both the Velvet Underground and the New York punk scene of the late ’70s. The band’s original lineup, including Wareham, former Feelies drummer Stanley Demeski and ex-Chills bassist Justin Harewood, made a good first impression with their 1992 debut Lunapark.
From the original lineup, only Wareham remains, and he has been joined by bassist Britta Phillips, guitarist Sean Eden and drummer Lee Wall.
Currently on tour to back their recent EP, Close Cover Before Striking, Luna is visiting small clubs in secondary markets, including Tampa, Fla. and Milwaukee, before concluding the tour tomorrow night at the Blind Pig.
Luna frontman Dean Wareham is content with his band existing outside the realm of the latest trends and flash-in-the-pan pop successes. “When grunge rock was big it didn’t really do anything for us. We weren’t the flavor of the month then, and we’re not now,” he said. “I wouldn’t switch places with the Hives, not that it wouldn’t be nice to sell some more records.”
But that’s not to suggest that Wareham doesn’t appreciate what the garage resurgence has done for rock music. “Two years ago everyone was like, ‘Rock is dead,’ and all the A&R people were losing their jobs and everyone was just trying to find the next ‘N Sync,” he said. “I actually prefer some of these (garage) bands to the grunge explosion. (Garage rock) is sort of a fad, like ska was a while ago. But to me it’s a preferable fad.”
Wareham finds Luna somewhere between the hip young rockers and the seemingly ageless Rolling Stones. It’s a bit ironic then that on Close Cover Before Striking, they cover the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend.”
Pushing 40 years old, Wareham remains realistic about getting older in the music business: “I think it’s kind of sad if you’re, like, 63 years old, or however old (Mick Jagger) is, and you’re trying to pretend that you’re 25 still with your attitude and your lyrics.”
Wareham expressed dismay about how the Rolling Stones have lost touch with their roots on their long-running string of stadium tours: “I would love to see the Rolling Stones play at a small venue. I think that’d be great. But I can’t stand going to see the stadium shows. It’s like a simulation of rock to me.”
But will Luna be playing well into their 60s? “I doubt it. At least (the Rolling Stones) are making millions of dollars. They’re not loading their equipment out of clubs at 2 a.m.”