I've described ‘New Thing’ as ‘my song about the Internet’ — about our thousands of ‘friends’ and the obsession with accumulating ‘likes.’ When Naomi and I began discussing ideas for the video we knew we wanted to reference that subject matter but didn't want to do so in any heavy-handed way. I told her I'd like to be a character of some sort rather than ‘guy singing with guitar’ and she found ‘Buster,’ as we dubbed the JVC 3100R ‘Television/Radio Pyramid Capsule Unit’ on eBay. You wouldn't believe what a cool old useless piece of outdated technology like that sells for these days!
The beautiful three track EP was recorded before Galaxie 500 split up and includes a brilliant earl version of This Car Climbed Mt. Washington and In The Sun with Damon on vocals, a new version appeared on Playback Singers a few years later with Naomi singing. The third track is the brilliant, yet otherwise unreleased, Nineteen Sixty-Nine
The EP was released on Rough Trade around the time that Galaxie 500's split was announced so the press was accompanied by those heartbreaking stories.
This is where the plot really thickens…Returning from a European tour last December, tentative plans were made to record an EP to sound out ideas for the next album, and do it in a different studio with a different producer […] Dean had other ideas.
Damon: “He came back after Christmas and said he didn't want to do an EP […] But we had ideas for this EP and still wanted to try a new studio, so Dean was like, ‘just do it on your own’.”
So what is the future? It's not Pierre Etoile, even I know that much. Pierre Etoile wasn't even originally intended as a solo (duo?) project. back when Naomi and Damon started working together on some new songs in January. Rather, the three songs being released on Rough Trade next week were intended as the basis of a new Galaxie RP, but Dean was on extended break in New Zealand and when he came back he didn't want to work on them.
Hence, Pierre Etoile can't help sounding similar to Galaxie 500 &endash; e whispered intonations, the same inherent sadness and hopelessness in the gentle, almost pastoral guitars and drums
“We were very conscious of not doing something that smacked of a solo project, because we always valued the idea of the band as a collective,” Naomi explains. “We never felt comfortable with the idea of Pierre Etoile.”
I came to Luna in a rather circuitous way. And it wasn't via Galaxie 500.
In 1992, shortly after graduating college in Boston (and yes, I somehow missed Galaxie 500 during their salad days during my time in Beantown) I read in a fanzine about a new band that featured the drummer of one of my favorite bands, The Feelies, Stanley Demeski. I figured if he was in this new band (also touted as an indie rock super group), they must be pretty good. To my utter delight, Lunapark became one of those years' biggest musical surprises for me. I've been with them ever since.
Through name changes (Luna² anyone?), record labels (Elektra to Arena Rock Records autographed vinyl to Pledge Music campaigns) decades (the '90s, Y2K, and 2017), line-up changes and even musical milestones (College Rock, MP3s and streaming), Luna has been my constant companion. I've been there when they broke up the band and after their rebirth in 2014. I even once interviewed Dean Wareham poolside at The Hollywood Roosevelt in the mid '90's for a zine called Fizz. You could say I was slightly obsessed with this band.
Luna have added three more dates to their Spanish tour in the autumn. Dates have been added in Ferrol, Zaragoza and Gijon - in addition the date in Mallorca is now on the 15th October not the 14th as originally announced.
Luna have just announced details of two new releases, an album of covers and an EP of instrumentals. Both are available to pre-order on Pledgemusic where you can select from a number of bundles including vinyl, CD plus T-shirts and turntable mats and more! The records will be released in September.
The album, A Sentimental Education, includes 10 covers including tracks by The Cure, The Velvet Underground (from Squeeze!), Yes and Fleetwood Mac amongst others (full tracklist below). The EP, A Place of Greater Safety, is a collection of instrumentals, a couple of which might be familiar to Luna fans.
We got there driving along the hills, hundreds of sheep walking around on the green grass, on the slopes, a big beautiful rainbow bowed grandly far away. Heavy clouds but the sun shone through in between them. It was magical. I just stared. Rolled down the window and breathed in the fresh air. Had to stop a couple of times to open gates so we could pass. And push away sheep just laying there on the small gravel road. We got to the house. It looks like a small castle, made of stone. It's on the southern English countryside. We had tea and biscuits with Andy's family. His son Adam, his cousin, his father and uncle too. There were daughters and boyfriends too. A nice dog.
“This documentary is about ten years old”, I say and Andy's father is commenting again. “Have they improved?”
Andy's father once saw Dean & Britta play and they met after the show. He told Dean “you should let Britta sing more". Dean quoted it himself in his blog at the time.
A stew was cooking in a huge heavy iron pot, and a big butternut squash was getting ready to be chopped in smaller pieces and roasted in the oven. “What band are you following?”, they asked us.
Andy put on the credit part of the Tell Me Do You Miss Me documentary. While the credits are shown, with Andy's name at the top of the thank you list, 23 Minutes in Brussels is played. We are sitting in this kitchen, everyone is watching, some extraordinary live shots of the band is shown with the credits. Chocolate biscuits with almonds and dried fruit. The British love those kind of things. Dean is a playing a solo, the swirling light from the small TV in the kitchen flashes.
It's quiet for some seconds, a bit unusual in this family I think. "So you saw them yesterday too", Andy's cousin asks. "And the day before that too?" We are forced to have one more cookie. We split it in two and eat, it's very tasty. “Actually tonight will be the eighth time this trip”, we tell them. The happy dog runs from knee to knee, the tail's wagging back and forth. The fur is silky smooth. “This documentary is about ten years old”, I say and Andy's father is commenting again. “Have they improved?”
After the extra day in New York, when Britta sent us the e-mail asking us if we wanted to have dinner with them, we flew to Manchester. In Manchester, we checked in to our beautiful hotel and Ulrika fell asleep right away. With ocean sounds in her earbuds, she likes to listen swelling waves when she's sleeping. And to A Swinging Safari when she's flying. Music is comforting. I went out for a walk and to meet our friend Bengt. He hasn't listened to Luna much, but decided to travel around the UK with us.
This may have slipped a bit under the radar, but it's been 25 years since the low-key debut of an indie supergroup was released in 1992. In this age of ubiquitous pop-culture anniversary celebrations, that news could portend a re-release, a tribute show, or any number of walks down memory lane. In this case, there's another significance as well: 2017 is the year Luna becomes eligible for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Of course, a group once dubbed “the best band you've never heard of” by a national music magazine [Rolling Stone magazine, 199?] isn't likely to be inducted to such a commercial monolith any time soon, but as that appellation indicates, the quality Luna has shown over the years is certainly at Hall of Fame level. Hailing from three good-to-great independent outfits (Galaxie 500, The Chills and The Feelies), the original trio found a captivating style from day one which was only enhanced by the addition of a second guitarist after the debut.
In the 90s, Luna was already in my contemporary pantheon at a par with my favorite grunge, lo-fi, and Americana artists; today, Luna sounds more timeless and perfect than any of them.
Focus on critical perception rather than critical mass, and you'll notice the band's resumé is comparable to many of the already enshrined: The first three albums were all exceedingly well-reviewed, and the following records all have their partisans. The third release, Penthouse, is considered an indie-pop masterpiece, and they boast terrific singles, some groundbreaking covers (especially Bonnie and Clyde), and a sound of their own which managed to carve a small niche in the well-trod ground of rock.
Their enthusiasts might even argue that Luna is too good for the Hall, and they'd have a point: a quick perusal of the honorees shows an ever-diluting list rife with lightweights and mediocrities. Bands of their cultish status are rarely included, Velvet Underground aside, and were it not for some genuine immortals on the soul/R&B side, you could arguably make a Hall of Fame of semi-popular artists that would rival or exceed the mainstream institution.