Luna Singer Sets Up His Pup Tent

Ivy League rocker keeps things interesting with unusual opening acts and strangely titled pop songs.

Dean Wareham, the Harvard-educated frontman for Luna, isn’t too proud to admit when he’s made an error.

“OK, so I screwed up,” said Wareham, former singer/guitarist of Galaxie 500. “I went to Harvard. I should have been a banker or a CEO of a corporation. But I didn’t. I make music.”

The Luna singer/songwriter does not, however, apologize to anyone that his Ivy League mind produces lyrics with allusions to cinema and literature and guitar solos with allusions to art-school bands such as Television and former tour-mates the Velvet Underground. “It’s really besides the point,” Wareham said. “It has nothing to do with anything. I make music and that has nothing to do with where I went to school.”

The art-pop quartet is touring in support of Pup Tent, an album that has received mixed reviews since its release in July. Luna-tics attending shows this tour can expect to hear about five songs off the new album mixed in with a selection of tunes from Luna’s previous albums Lunapark, Bewitched and Penthouse. “As an artist, you want to play the new stuff, but when the album is so young, everyone wants to hear the old stuff,” Wareham said.

To keep themselves entertained, Luna have been working on a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” and Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer,” though they have yet to play either of those songs live.

Meanwhile, Luna have chosen a seies of opening acts who are not exactly who they seem. The tour kicked off with Jewel Brown, a band that is actually the members of Jenny Anyway playing a country-rock style “not like Wilco or Cracker or anything that polished,” Wareham said. “Right now, we’re touring with Salary Man, which is actually the Poster Children playing some kind of electronica thing with a lot of keyboards.”

After that, Luna will play with 16 Deluxe, a band from Austin, Texas that, according to Wareham, has elements of Flaming Lips. “I like touring. It’s fun and all; but it sort of is like an alternate reality. You know, you leave your normal life behind, you’re traveling a lot and you don’t do anything for yourself; all your decisions are made for you. Being in that mind state is a bit different than usual.”

One decision that Wareham might live to regret is making the loop and fuzzy guitar opus “IHOP” (which, you might have guessed, stands for International House of Pancakes), the first single off Pup Tent. “Some bright promo people have set up this thing where contest winners get to have a meal with us at the IHOP,” Wareham said with a heavy sigh. “Of course, the meal they get to have with us is dinner. Who wants dinner at the IHOP?”

Also dedicated to his work is new drummer Lee Wall, who took over for former Feelies drummer Stanley Demski. Demski parted ways with Luna, Wareham said, because he disliked touring. “He was the kind of guy who would say ‘I’d be happy if I could just record the songs and not play live at all,’ ” Wareham added. “Playing with someone who wants to be there and is pouring their heart into it is a lot different than playing with someone who is just there to collect his money. And sometimes we don’t make money on tour, so you can imagine how that went over.”

Responding to a recent GQ article which stated that Luna’s fans were mostly males of the perpetual graduate student variety, Wareham said, “Well, if we play all ages shows, we get a lot of high school kids. We aren’t playing too many of those this tour, though. I don’t think it’s a predominantly male crowd. We get a pretty good mix, maybe 60-40 or possibly 50-50 sometimes.”

Luna will be touring America through the end of September. From there, they will take a short break and tour Europe, Australia and Japan. “We’ll be back in America in January,” Wareham said. “Now that I’ve got a band that likes to play live and really rock out, I’m looking forward to touring America again next year.” [Fri., Sept. 19, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]