Note: Stephan Jenkins is pretty busy these days. His band, Third Eye
Blind, has three radio hits -- "Semi-Charmed Life,"
"Graduate" and "How's It Going to Be" -- off the
band's debut album and will spend the rest of the year opening
concerts: first for U2 in Europe, then in December for the Rolling
Stones in the United States. But when Jenkins saw that Luna, one of
his favorite bands, was returning to San Francisco to play the
Fillmore Auditorium, he couldn't resist the opportunity to play
reporter and interview his hero, Dean Wareham, the man behind the
Luna sound. Here is his report:
Dean Wareham writes pop songs about life that make college girls
die copious, sweet deaths. All four albums by his rock band, Luna,
including the new release "Pup Tent," are generously
sprinkled with brilliant moments. At last year's show at the
Fillmore Auditorium, a sold-out crowd swayed to Luna's heady groove.
Luna's following, although growing, seems like it will always hover
near the cult. The Luna crowd knows it will not be rocked so much as
Luna is, in my mind, one of the better guitar rock bands in the
world. While working on my band's record, Luna's previous record,
"Penthouse," served as a clinic for clean guitar textures.
And while no one would accuse Wareham of possessing pipes -- his
voice, like Lou Reed's and Bob Dylan's, is paper-thin -- it is his
vocals that keep Luna in the CD changer.
Although we had never officially met, I was eager to discuss
life, work and art with him by phone from New York.
Stephan: You once said that you were not a New York band.
You didn't consider yourself a part of that scene.
Dean: Did I say that?
SJ: Yeah, I thought that was absurd.
DW: Someone said, "Do you guys sound like New
York?" Well, if I think of what New York sounded like in the
past 10 years, it doesn't sound like us. I was thinking more of
Sonic Youth or someone.
SJ: You seem to get a lot of imagery and energy from New York
DW: I do, absolutely. I have been inspired by a lot of bands
that have come from around here -- not right now, but back in time.
SJ: There is sort of an apparent Velvet Underground feel. DW:
Yeah, them and Television and the Feelies I really liked. They're
from across the river, close enough.
SJ: We've met before. I came to you as a fan at the Fillmore
last year. I went to the show. I read your press and really
DW: That's what happens, though. You can't control what
people write about you.
SJ: There was an article about guys in horn-rimmed glasses...
DW: Oh, that was GQ.
SJ: This was not what I saw, this was not my experience of
the Luna show. I started writing things down and I said, "Luna
writes songs about life that make college girls die copious,
precious little deaths."
DW: I wouldn't think that it was just a male thing.
SJ: I believe that I am on to you. This is my theory in the
past couple of days -- that you, Dean, are actually a cad. It is
cultivated yet uncalculated. This really drives people like my
DW: You can't confuse the narrator with the songwriter
necessarily. You can do a psychological analysis of it, I suppose.
Maybe you would find that, yeah, deep down I am a cad. I hope not.
I'm married, so I hope not.
SJ: In listening to the new record, there seems to be a live
influence. The drums have obviously changed. You are still rooted in
groove, but it sounds like Luna wants to rock out a bit more. Is
this true? DW: We might want to. I don't know if we achieved
that. Maybe on a song or two. We talked about trying to get the live
feel of the band. I think we completely failed at that, though.
SJ: I was thinking about the song "Tracy I Love
DW: That took a long time to record. First we tracked it
about 20 times. Sean [Eden] spent about four, maybe five days doing
his guitars on it.
SJ: These are such good guitar sounds as well.
DW: That's pretty much all Sean. All I play is this twangy
arpeggio thing. I stayed away. Too hard for me, too many passing
SJ: When I produced my record, we would drive around with
your albums "Penthouse" and "Bewitched" and I
would listen to the sounds.
DW: Good sounds on it.
SJ: Great sounds. Is this really important to you?
DW: Sounds, texture? Yeah, and the big difference for us was
having a producer this time. After we did our first, we wanted to
produce ourselves, but now we are at the point where we need someone
to stand outside of the band. If we would have done it ourselves, it
would have been more stripped down, but Pat [McCarthy], who also
produced "Penthouse," really changed it a lot. He was
there from day one, scrutinizing every note, giving us a hard time,
in a good way.
SJ: Did you enjoy this process?
DW: It was fun and it was tortuous. It was both. Some days it
was good, some days it was hard work.