Dean Wareham “Sneaking Inside Your Head”

The Luna and Galaxie 500 co-founder details the creation of his first set of songs in over seven years.


The last time I did a solo album was right before I moved to Los Angeles about 10 years ago. I went to Louisville, Ky. to record my self-titled album at Jim James’ house, it came out and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t write a song for seven years after that.

I kept busy with other things during that time. Britta Phillips and I did some movie scores and wrote some music, but I didn’t write one. song until two things happened. First, the pandemic hit and that gave me some time to buckle down and work on some songs. And then my producer Jason Quever, who had been bugging me for a while, called and said there was an opening at a studio in Stinson Beach, which is in Northern California. So I make a deposit and that always keeps me going. I started putting the songs together and practicing with Britta and Roger Brogan, who played drums with us, and we made I have nothing to say to the mayor of Los Angeles

I don’t like going to the studio without a batch of songs, so knowing we were about to go to Stinson Beach gave me a deadline and we spent a week there. It just came together very quickly; I pushed myself a little accordingly[1]wise and with the key changes. Lyrically, I’m happy with that and maybe that’s a function of taking my time or maybe it’s just luck that some records turn out better than others. But all the ingredients were there, and they all played very well.

I have nothing to say to the mayor of Los Angeles It’s a singer-songwriter album because I’m a singer-songwriter. However, there is a bit of a political element to this album, although you have to do it with a bit of humor and not try to lecture people.

Recently, I started to raise the vocals a bit louder, whereas there have been times in the past, like on Luna’s album. Haunted—where I have lowered the voices. Historically, I’ve liked bands where the voice is submerged, but as I got older, I felt like I wanted the voice to be loud enough that it could get into someone’s head. You can feel them think and feel the character of their voice, rather than just another instrument. And the story they’re telling can carry you through the song and keep you interested.

We had to finish things remotely this time because the pandemic reared its head again, so Jason mixed I have nothing to say to the mayor of Los Angeles in his home studio. And we’d send notes that often said, “Turn up the bass; raise your voice.”

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Britta and I kept ourselves busy during the pandemic. We’re two musicians living under the same roof, and Britta is actually a much better engineer than I am, so we were able to get some work done. We even did a few live streams, although I was resistant at first. When we started touring again post-COVID, I did a few shows where I played the Galaxie 500 album. On fire. I wouldn’t want to do the same 10 songs in a row all year, but it was fun to do a few shows like that, especially knowing that I have this new record.

Since my previous solo release, there was also the Luna cover album, and we did an EP that had six instrumentals, no lyrics. I find the lyrics to be the hardest. It’s easy enough to think of the backing track (play the song 70% of the way through), but it’s hard to finish that last 30%. So those are my main excuses for not releasing an album for so long, other than the fact that it’s really sunny in LA. It’s really not conducive to sitting and writing, and that’s another reason why I enjoy the rain when it comes.

Being a musician these days is a bit of a juggling act, and it’s a bit confusing even for me at times. I’m not on a label and anyone who’s a musician will tell you that we’ve changed a lot in recent years. You used to spend a lot more time making music and now we are putting all this energy into social media, administrative matters or being a travel agent. And it’s the same for everyone, not just us musicians.

Organizing a tour takes a lot of work, and I can see why some artists are happy to only play every other month. But playing with Luna is still fun. There’s something about a band that’s been together a long time, even if there’s been a little change, like The Clean, whose drummer Hamish Kilgour recently passed away. They were two brothers, a drummer and a singer, who played together for 30 years and everyone in the audience knew the songs inside and out. And that’s what made the Grateful Dead what they were, too.

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