Published Jan 01, 2006Years from now, when pop surrealist Dean Wareham looks back on the career of his band Luna, one of his most enduring memories will be waiting for albums to drop. The latest disc to be deferred was Luna's new Romantica. Originally scheduled for a March release, the disc finally came out in late April after the 11-year-old band's new label, Jetset, held things up for the sake of a co-ordinated European release that never even ended up happening. Wareham says he went through the same sort of setbacks with each of Luna's first four major-label albums, too.
"I think you just have to sort of expect that if you make records for ten years, somewhere along the line there's going to be some kind of trouble," says the former Galaxie 500 boss, on the phone from his Greenwich Village apartment.
After more than a decade of putting forth consistently solid recordings, though, Wareham is well within his rights to expect better. That tradition of quality isn't lost on Romantica, either. Produced by dB's stalwart Gene Holder and mixed with Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann, the disc finds Wareham and co. in top mellow-and-melodic form, as new bass face Britta Phillips makes her Luna studio-recording debut. Formerly a member of Belltower (and the voice of Jem in the animated series Jem and the Holograms), Phillips performed on half of the tracks of Luna's 2001 Luna Live disc (outgoing four-stringer Justin Harwood played on the balance).
Of course, better an album be delayed than it not come out at all. That's a fate that hasn't befallen Wareham, though he's currently going through a scenario that's almost as bad with Luna's previous studio album, The Days of Our Nights. Released with little fanfare in 1999, the excellent yet largely unknown disc is already out of print due to the bankruptcy of short-lived indie imprint Jericho.
"That's the most annoying thing right now," says Wareham, with a sigh. He says the lawyers handling the bankruptcy are intent on selling the masters back to the band, despite the fact Luna is apparently owed money from Jericho. "I guess it's still in print in Europe," Wareham adds, "and maybe one day we'll get it back."
The situation is eerily reminiscent of what befell Galaxie 500 shortly after the pioneering drone-pop trio's 1991 demise. That same year witnessed the bankruptcy of the band's label Rough Trade, which counted the master recordings of Galaxie 500's three studio albums among its saleable assets. Fortunately, that potential horror story enjoyed a happy ending. "We were able to buy the records at an auction really cheap," says Wareham. "So in the end it turned out good. Rykodisc put them out some years later and it pretty much straightened that out."