Band Disassembly

Luna heads for Tucson to say goodbye

Sean Eden, guitarist for the rock band Luna, was surprisingly nonchalant about the blizzard that buffeted New York City last weekend, especially considering that the storm dumped more than a foot of snow on the Big Apple and downed phone lines, delaying an interview with the Tucson Weekly for a day or so.

"Well, I think it's splendid," he said cheerily when we finally got through to him at his Manhattan apartment. "I'm from Canada, so I'm used to it. I was walking around New York City last night. It makes everything really dramatic, and it gets really quiet because there are fewer cars out in the streets, and everything looks a little cleaner."

The 39-year-old Eden is equally laid-back when it comes to discussing the impending dissolution of the band for which he has played for a dozen years, the band that frontman Dean Wareham formed in the wake of his indie-rock group, Galaxie 500.

"I think it's good to make a new change, as much as sometimes you don't want to do it," said Eden. "It's good that it is coming to a close, but it's a very jumbled time right now."

Wareham announced this past fall that he would retire the group after the current concert tour, which includes a Tucson performance Wednesday, Feb. 2, at Club Congress. Luna will walk off into the sunset with four gala gigs at the end of February at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City.

The announcement of the band's impending demise came in September, about a month before the release of the band's eighth and final album, the critically acclaimed Rendezvous (Jet Set Records). Responding to concern from fans, Wareham wrote a Top 10 list in October of tongue-in-cheek reasons for the breakup on the band's Web site (see sidebar).

Eden confirmed that the planned disassembly of a rock band seems to immediately confer upon it the status of a living legend.

"People are saying things like, 'How can you be doing this? I started buying your stuff in high school, and I grew up with you guys!' I think some of the Luna fans, when it comes down to it, they really view the band's breaking up as symbolic or symptomatic of their own lives and moving on in certain ways.

"When I was young and in high school, there were certain bands where I thought (his voice rising in mock-drama) 'Oh my god, they can't break up!'"

For example?

"In college, when The Clash broke up, that was kind of weird for me. And seeing some bands disappear from the limelight--the band X, from L.A., they changed my life when I was in high school, and then they sort of just stopped making a difference. That was a little sad."

Eden acknowledged the wisdom of Luna retiring at the top of its game, rather than after it starts just going through the motions. More than enough bands have continued long past their expiration dates and set precedents for sucking.

"Obviously we could have gone on longer in some ways," Eden says. "Without being too presumptuous, our live shows are really great right now. There is that 'spark' in the shows."

Long have Luna fans recognized that spark, which combines Beat-style lyricism with elegant guitar soundscapes reminiscent of the Velvet Underground, Television and Neil Young. But Luna goes beyond its influences, using the traditional guitar-bass-drums rock paradigm as building blocks for a unique sonic architecture that evokes place, mood and emotion.

Performing in a popular alternative-rock band isn't all glamour and groupies, though, Eden said.

"Some people do have a lot sympathy and empathy for us. I mean, being in a band, it's totally fun, and it's kind of your job to be careless and irresponsible and live this semi-charmed life. We might do a sold-out show at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and when I get back home to New York, and there's all these bills to be paid--vans, sound guys, tour managers, insurance, rentals and everything else--I'm like, 'Wow, I made like a few hundred dollars on this tour.'"

Each of the members--the lineup is completed by bassist Britta Phillips and drummer Lee Wall--has other commitments and projects planned beyond the end of Luna. Interestingly, they all have cinematic pursuits. "All of us are pursuing connections doing music for films, television or commercials," Eden said.

In addition, Wareham and Phillips released a duo album, L'Avventura, in 2003, and they are likely to continue that partnership. Eden, too, has a couple of irons in the fire.

"I'm halfway through with a project with a singer friend of mine. It's also kind of cinematic music, dreamy and spooky, with a little Country influence. And I've actually been recording my so-called solo record. I don't know if it's going to be called Sean Eden or if we'll give it a band name. Anyway, those are the plans in the short term."

The documentary filmmaker Matthew Buzzell--who also made the 2002 film Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew, about the octogenarian jazz singer--has been shooting Luna on and off during its farewell tour and at home, Eden reported. "We've been filming since October, and there's definitely a lot of interesting, even bizarre, footage already--a lot of footage, of concerts, our own lives in New York, hanging out in the backs of vans and hotel rooms."

Even after Luna calls it quits, it won't be the last we hear from the group. But don't worry--the band's members aren't so cynical that they're already planning a reunion.

"We're all pretty proud of our soon-to-be quote-unquote legacy, and certainly we're not ruling out other Luna-related things happening the future," Eden said.

And, if anything, the coming split of Luna is bound to be amicable. "We're all pretty friendly. I mean, there's been some water that's gone under the bridge, but none of us really hates each other or anything like that."

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