Dean Wareham

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Dean Wareham
DeanWareham 2007.jpg
Background information
Born (1963-08-01) 1 August 1963 (age 57)
Wellington, New Zealand
OriginNew York, NY, United States
GenresDream pop, slowcore, indie rock, indie pop
Occupation(s)Musician, Songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1987–present
Associated actsGalaxie 500
Dean and Britta

Dean Wareham (born 1 August 1963)[1] is an American musician and actor who formed the band Galaxie 500 in 1987. He left Galaxie 500 in April 1991 and founded the band Luna. Since Luna's breakup in 2005, Wareham has released albums with fellow Luna bandmate (and wife) Britta Phillips (see Dean and Britta). They also work as film composers, notably on the Noah Baumbach films The Squid and the Whale and Mistress America. He released a self-titled album in 2014 and reformed Luna in 2015.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Wareham is the son of John Wareham, a management consultant and author.[2][3] His family moved to Sydney, Australia, before settling in New York City in 1977.[4] Wareham attended the Dalton School in New York and Harvard University, graduating with a B.A. in social studies. He has three siblings, including Louise Wareham, a novelist.

Galaxie 500[edit]

Guitarist Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang began playing together as Galaxie 500 in 1987, after their time as students at Harvard University. The band's name comes from a Ford car of the 1960s, the Ford Galaxie 500. Galaxie 500's records were released in the US and UK on the independent Rough Trade label and went out of print upon Rough Trade's demise. Galaxie 500's entire catalog, along with a box set including singles, EPs and rarities was reissued during the 1990s by Rykodisc.

Galaxie 500 leveraged fairly minimal instrumental technique with intense atmospherics provided by producer Mark Kramer, and their distinctive sound bore an influence beyond the small audience for their independently released albums. The sound and the increasingly loyal audience grew with each release until Wareham quit the band in 1991. To mark twenty years since the release of the Galaxie 500 albums, Wareham embarked on his Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 tour. Notably absent were Krukowski and Yang.[5]


Luna was a dream pop/indie pop band Wareham formed in 1991 after the breakup of Galaxie 500, with Stanley Demeski and Justin Harwood (Demeski also in The Feelies and Harwood formerly of New Zealand band The Chills).[6]

The original lineup was expanded with the addition of guitarist Sean Eden for their second album, 1994's Bewitched.[6] Lee Wall replaced Demeski on drums in time for 1997's Pup Tent, and Britta Phillips of Belltower (also known as the singing voice of animated character Jem) joined when bassist Justin Harwood departed in 2000. Phillips and Wareham eventually became romantically involved and married. They now release records under the moniker "Dean & Britta".

In 1992, Wareham signed a demo deal with Elektra Records' A&R VP Terry Tolkin and recorded a number of tracks with Mercury Rev drummer Jimmy Chambers. Some of these recordings were later released on the "Anesthesia" single on Tolkin's No.6 Records in the US and Mint Tea in the UK under the name Dean Wareham.

Tolkin then signed Wareham to Elektra, who started pulling together a band. He first contacted Justin Harwood, whom Dean had met while Justin was playing with The Chills and they recruited drummer Byron Guthrie. The trio recorded some more demos (produced by Dave Fridmann) and played a couple of live dates augmented by Mercury Rev guitarist Grasshopper (Sean Mackowiak). Guthrie was then replaced by former Feelies drummer Stanley Demeski and this lineup recorded the first album Lunapark, produced by Fred Maher and released by Elektra under the name Luna2[6] to avoid confusion with a new-age musician who was already using the name Luna (later an agreement was reached which allowed the band to use the name Luna).

In the summer of 1993 the band was the supporting act for the reformed Velvet Underground on their European tour after which they set about recording their second album. Bewitched was recorded in New York City and co-produced by the band with Victor Van-Vugt.[6] Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison played guitar on two tracks. The album was released in 1994.[6]

Luna's third album, Penthouse (1995),[6] was named one of the essential of the 1990s by Rolling Stone magazine. Penthouse was co-produced by Mario Salvati and Pat McCarthy in New York, and features guests Tom Verlaine (Television) and Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab). While remaining on Elektra Records in the U.S., the band were signed to Beggar's Banquet for the rest of the world.[6]

In 1997, Lee Wall replaced Stanley Demeski on drums, and the band recorded Pup Tent, their fourth album for Elektra,[6] produced by Pat McCarthy. In 1998, Luna recorded their fifth album, The Days of Our Nights, produced by Paul Kimble (Grant Lee Buffalo). The album was released in the U.S. on Jericho Records and on Beggar's Banquet internationally.

In December 1999, Harwood retired to New Zealand, and was replaced on bass by Britta Phillips. The band released Luna Live! in 2000 on the Arena Rock label, and then signed to Jetset Records, for whom they recorded two more studio albums, Romantica (2002), co-produced by Gene Holder (DB's) and Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev), and Rendezvous (2004), produced by Bryce Goggin. The band announced plans to break up in 2004, and played a final concert at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on 28 February 2005. However, in 2015 the band returned, toured the world and released new material in 2017 - the LP A Sentimental Education and the EP A Place of Greater Safety.

Dean and Britta[edit]

Dean & Britta is a musical duo consisting of Wareham and Britta Phillips, former Luna bassist. After Luna broke up in 2005, the pair spent the following year working on film scores, including one for Noah Baumbach's movie The Squid and the Whale, and promoting the documentary film of Luna's farewell tour Tell Me Do You Miss Me. They were married during the recording of their album Back Numbers, produced by Tony Visconti, and simplified their name to "Dean & Britta". Back Numbers was released on Rounder Records in February 2007, followed by a limited edition EP, "Words You Used To Say".

Solo work[edit]

Wareham released the EP, Emancipated Hearts, under his own name in late 2013,[7] which was followed by the self-titled album Dean Wareham in March 2014. October 2018 saw the release of Dean Wareham Vs. Cheval Sombre - a collection of western-themed songs featuring Wareham and singer-songwriter Cheval Sombre.[8]


Wareham has written a memoir about his years in indie rock. The book recounts his experiences in music and otherwise, from high school in New York City in the 1970s through his years in Galaxie 500 and Luna and his divorce. Titled Black Postcards, it was published by Penguin Press in March, 2008.[9]


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
  2. ^ a b Pickering, Jim (11 September 2015). "Luna landing". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Books - John Wareham". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  4. ^ Isaac, Peter (4 April 2015). "New York Philanthropist John Wareham Returns to New Zealand". EIN Presswire. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  5. ^ Demamiel, Liam. "Interview: Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500". One Thirty BPM.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Larkin, Colin, ed. (2000). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Nineties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 240/1. ISBN 0-7535-0427-8.
  7. ^ "Dean Wareham Shares New Single". Pitchfork. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre - Cheval Sombre, Dean Wareham". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  9. ^ Phair, Liz (6 April 2008). "Frontman". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 May 2021.

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