Dean And Britta's Dean Wareham
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be rock stars
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Dean Wareham boasts an impressive musical pedigree, first gaining notice as the frontman for the late-’80s dream-pop trio Galaxie 500 before dissolving that band to form ’90s indie-pop mainstay Luna. Luna’s tumultuous 14-year career is chronicled in Wareham’s memoir, Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, which was released as a paperback on May 5th. Now Wareham works with his wife and former Luna bassist, Britta Phillips, scoring films, releasing albums on their Double Feature label, and—most recently—providing the soundtrack to the Andy Warhol Museum-commissioned project 13 Most Beautiful… Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. Prior to Dean And Britta’s performance tonight at The Black Cat, Wareham spoke with The A.V. Club about riding around town in a Galaxie 500, chronicling the drug aspect of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, and eventually having to explain his own drug use to his son.
The A.V. Club: Whose idea was it to have the couple riding around in a Galaxie 500 in the video for the Luna song “Slash Your Tires”?
Dean Wareham: The director’s idea. I guess she figured the song might be about my old band. The couple in the video had a very Kurt-and-Courtney or Sid-and-Nancy type thing. Courtney Love actually thought that video was about her.
DW: Yeah, I read that comment somewhere. But Courtney seemed to think a lot of things were about her.
AVC: At times, Black Postcards is very explicit about the kind of drug use that can go hand-and-hand with the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Since you’re a father, was there any trepidation about documenting that aspect of being in bands?
DW: My own drug use?
DW: Well, yes, there was some hesitation. I don’t know. My son is too young to read the book. I don’t know what I’ll tell him other than, “Don’t be like I was.”
AVC: You could tell him not to be a rock star.
DW: Don’t be a rock star. I’ve seen people around me have their lives destroyed by drugs. It just depends on what kind of person you are. Like, some people have a “go” button and a “stop” button, and some people just have the “go” button, meaning that they take drugs and just take more, and more, and more. It could be 6 in the morning and they’ll say, “Okay, I have to get more now.” I’m not that kind of person.
AVC: Another thing that stands out about your memoir is that you seem to interact with your fans a lot via e-mail. What’s the most unusual correspondence you’ve ever had?
DW: Well there’s less of a correspondence now, because actually Britta answers most of the e-mails—which is kind of nice actually, because it can be overwhelming. I try to write back, but I can’t write back as much as I’d like. I had a woman in Columbus whose father had just passed away and it was about his final days in the hospital and she was playing our music for him particularly [the Dean And Britta cover of] “Since I Lay My Burden Down.” It makes me sad just thinking about it. I’ve also had a few crazy people who think I’ve written all of my songs about them. I mentioned in the book that every once in a while I’ll get an e-mail from someone who tells me I’ve been in their head and that I have a relationship with them that doesn’t actually exist.
AVC: You and your wife have scored movies such as Noah Baumbach’s The Squid And The Whale. Are there any other directors that you are hoping call you up and ask you to score their work?
DW: Well, working with Baumbach was great. So few films are actually good and it’s not often I get to do a film that turns out good. Plus, there just aren’t that many great directors out there. There are a thousand different decisions that need to be made with each script and it’s the good directors that can make those decisions. It’s a long and complicated process in regards to what looks good on paper. It was great to work on a really good film. Working on a bad film can be fun too. It can be a good exercise that gets you writing.
AVC: So, there’s no one you’re hoping gives you a call?
DW: Stanley Kubrick.
AVC: You’re gonna be waiting a long time for that call.
DW: Yeah, he’s dead.
AVC: How has it been being received as an author?
DW: It’s weird being an author because it’s different than writing songs. You put so much more of yourself out there to be judged because it’s a memoir. So when the reviews come in, they all feel really personal. Some people are just going to hate you no matter what. Personally, I never believe good reviews. When people tell me they love the book, I just shrug and say, “Yeah, whatever.” My shrink says it’s all about the love within. You have to love yourself or you’ll never be able to accept compliments from anyone.
AVC: Do you think you have another book in you?
DW: I might have to have another book in me. [Laughs] …More Black Postcards.