As frontman for Galaxie 500 and Luna, Dean Wareham lived and prospered through two decades of indie rock. MAGNET spoke to Wareham about his memoir, an honest and surprisingly juicy behind-the-scenes look at bandmate squabbling, life on the road and the perils of cult stardom.
Dean Wareham speaks in a soft, cultured voice, punctuated by a lot of easy laughter. His frankness is a little jarring, so far is it from the cryptic tenor of the songs he wrote for Galaxie 500 and Luna. But then, Wareham has just spent a year and a half penning Black Postcards: Unreleased B-Sides And Notes From The Road (Penguin Press), a memoir of his years recording and touring with those now-defunct bands. And in order to do that, he’s been opening up lots of old wounds.
If there’s a more immediately terrifying phrase in English than “open-mic poetry,” it’s “rock memoir,” a mongrel bastard of a genre that encompasses everything from muckraking oral histories to ghost-written stroke jobs. But Wareham’s fame, such as it is, has always hinged on the fact that his bands never achieved the popular acclaim his critical rep might’ve suggested. As such, the enigmatic quality of his music, released on both indie and major labels, has always been very much a part of his public persona. And there’s a big chapter of his professional history—the acrimonious split with Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, his bandmates in Galaxie 500—about which he’s never spoken in detail.
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To nobody’s surprise, neither age nor the dissolution of Guided By Voices has slowed the prolific output of Ohio’s most famous schoolteacher-turned-songwriter. Robert Pollard has simultaneously issued two new solo albums, Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions (both on Merge), with help from producer and collaborator Todd Tobias. He’s also putting the finishing touches on a coffee-table book of lyrics and collage artwork titled Town Of Mirrors: The Reassembled Imagery Of Robert Pollard (due out next year) and recently staged an exhibit of his visual art at Studio Dante, Sopranos star Michael Imperioli’s New York City theater.
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With a commanding, imposing voice, Siouxsie Sioux turned what looked like a one-night stand into a musical career that’s still going strong. Sioux, born Janet Susan Dallion in 1957, formed a primitive version of Siouxsie And The Banshees to open for an early Sex Pistols show at London’s tiny 100 Club in 1976. Who would’ve guessed this ad hoc support band would outlive the evening’s headliner by almost 20 years? The eerie drone of the Banshees was a harbinger of brooding U.K. post-punk outfits the Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus. After a career that included 15 top-30 hits in the U.K., Sioux pulled the plug on the Banshees in 1996 to focus on the Creatures, the side project she’d formed with husband (and Banshees drummer) Peter “Budgie” Clarke. Now comes Mantaray (Decca), Sioux’s debut solo album. No matter what the label on the can says, it’s pretty much the same peppery soup inside. Crackling guitars and pounding drums protectively surround Sioux’s vocals as though they’re safeguarding the princess of some long-lost Inca tribe.
Admittedly a bit “gaga” after a day full of radio interviews, Sioux spoke to MAGNET from London.
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By the time you’ve finished reading this, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore will have probably produced, recorded or released another album or written another book. Recently, Moore issued an acoustic-guitar-driven solo LP (Trees Outside The Academy, on his Ecstatic Peace label), penned a tome on New York City’s downtown scene (the forthcoming No Wave) and spent the summer playing 1988 SY masterpiece Daydream Nation in its entirety to festival crowds.
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Since first appearing on the British scene in the mid-’70s as a founding member of new-wave act XTC, Andy Partridge set about failing his way to the top of the pop charts. While XTC did experience modest success—a U.K. top-10 single (1982’s “Senses Working Overtime”) and a U.S. modern-rock number one (1989’s “The Mayor Of Simpleton”)— Partridge has emerged as an influential figure who has somehow eluded the fame and fortune accorded to lesser peers.
Partridge nevertheless has assembled an enviable body of work. He ceased touring altogether after suffering a breakdown onstage at a 1982 XTC concert in Paris; Partridge’s then-wife had thrown out his supply of Valium, resulting in a debilitating battle with stage fright that would haunt him throughout his career. While XTC has been largely dormant since 2000’s Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2), Partridge remains as busy as ever. He recently released Fuzzy Warbles Collector’s Album (encompassing nine volumes of XTC-era outtakes, demos and radio rarities) and Monstrance (an experimental two-CD set with XTC/Shriekback keyboardist Barry Andrews and drummer Martyn Barker). Both releases appear on Partridge’s own Ape House label.
MAGNET caught up with the 53-year-old Partridge at his home in Swindon, a sleepy southwest suburb of London.
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