A Head Full of Wishes

A Head Full of Wishes is a site for Galaxie 500, Luna, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Dean Wareham. With news, articles and lists of releases and past and future shows.

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My uncut Terrascopaedia interviews: #2 Dean

This is the second part of my Terrascopaedia interviews, this time with Dean. You can read the first part with Damon & Naomi, and see the finished article, as beautifully presented in Terrascopaedia 11.

It’s probably worth mentioning that, I guess inevitably, Dean and Damon’s views were sometimes at odds with each other, Damon called these “accurate representations of our differences”.

Terrascopaedia #13 - November 2019
Terrascopaedia #13 - November 2019

AA: After the band split and before the re--releases in 1996 where you aware that Galaxie 500 still had some life? Was the interest around that time and the success of the box-set a surprise.

DW: I knew there was some interest, but it was hard to gauge because Rough Trade and declared bankruptcy and the records were immediately out of print. In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise; the rights to the albums reverted to the band, and that 5-year period where the records were out of print only made people more excited to get the box set and discover the band for themselves. This was a different time, you couldn’t just get online and download the songs on from some torrent or hear them on Youtube. Of course there was this guy in England running a new thing -- a website devoted to Galaxie 500, and I feel this was almost before any band or musician had their own website. So thanks!

DW: I think when we made those records, well I know I liked them fine myself, but I didn’t particularly think they were important or groundbreaking. But now I look back at all the records that were in 1988 or 1989 (you can do this on Wikipedia), I think I can honestly say that the albums we made are as good as any of them, they’ve stood the test of time and they don’t sound dated.

AA: The albums only got a vinyl re-release in 2009 had there been any thoughts prior to that to release on vinyl or did it only become feasible then?

DW: In the late 1990s vinyl had been largely declared dead by the record companies; albums were released on CD and on cassette only. So it all has more to do with what’s going on in the market at large. I will say this — if you like our first album Today and want it on vinyl — it’s worth seeking out an earlier pressing either on Aurora or Rough Trade or Shimmy-Disc Europe. I think they sound better.

AA: Was the decision to do the "plays Galaxie 500" shows dictated purely by timing (after Luna's split, and 13 Most Beautiful) or was it a reaction to an increased interest in the band. Do you feel that the shows are helping to keep the band as a going concern? Or is it more about reacting to a desire from the audience?

DW: Initially I just did one “Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500” show, at a small Spanish festival. And immediately I had other people asking me to do it elsewhere. I got a real thrill out of it, and I could see that there were people who loved hearing these songs live. It’s emotional to see a show that maybe you never thought would happen; I felt that as a fan when I saw Glen Campbell perform at Town Hall a few years ago. And yes I think it helps keep people interested in the band; we’ve had songs placed in movies directly as a result of me playing them in concert. Maybe it was silly of me not to have been playing more Galaxie 500 songs in Luna sets all those years too, but Luna seemed so different. Also the songs are deceptively hard to play right; I know there are only three chords but you have to pay attention to the other elements too.

AA: Is the supposed UK preference for Galaxie 500 still a thing or are Galaxie 500 a more global thing now?

DW: Once upon a time the UK was where rock careers were made, the press generated there in NME and Melody Maker and Sounds echoed all around the world. We did well there (and in Germany too), but the idea that we were ignored in the USA is overstated. We just didn’t do much touring at home, but when we did, we certainly pulled good crowds in Chicago and New York and San Francisco. And then the band broke up.

AA: How much has the Internet and the www helped to maintain Galaxie 500 as a commercial entity?

DW: Well that’s the way that people experience music now, hardcore fans will buy the LPs or CDs (the Domino CD reissues were beautifully done) but most are going to listen on streaming platforms like Spotify, where we have hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners. So yes, that certainly helps maintain the band as a commercial entity. Though in an earlier era, perhaps we would have sold more compact discs, who knows, On Fire might have gone gold by now if it weren’t available online for free. But that doesn’t happen these days.

Interview via email with Dean - September 2018