Wareham and Phillips are both undeniably attractive, in an effortless way — all black clothes and tousled hair. Both admit to feeling a palpable connection from the onset: "I immediately had a good music relationship with Britta," says Wareham. But the relationship wasn't a romantic one, initially — Wareham was married when the two first met.
Phillips was cautious anyway. She had been burned by the relationship-in-band situation before, when she and her former husband were American ex-pats and bandmates in a London-based shoe-gazer band called Belltower, in the '90s. "I was young and crazy," she says, "and there was a lot of ego and insecurity involved."
Phillips called it quits on both the band and her marriage after seven years, and the experience left her at a low point in the existential crisis that is the life of a musician. Joining Luna, she says, renewed her affair with music. "He's been my ultimate muse," says Phillips. "That'll sound so romantic and mushy."
A few years after Phillips got involved with Luna, she and Wareham — the latter then divorced and working on a solo album of covers — began to recognize the gravity of both their musical and personal connections. Two full-length albums later, Phillips and Wareham are now married and making music — orchestral, haunting, brooding, sexy music — together, as Dean and Britta.
"It's made my life feel more unified," says Wareham. "A lot of guys have one life on tour, and another life at home," he adds, perhaps hinting at his infidelities during the years he toured with Luna, which he wrote about in Black Postcards. Now, he and Phillips e-mail song ideas to one another from opposite sides of their apartment, and are in the midst of a US and Canadian tour with Mercury Rev.
So what makes this band work for Phillips, as opposed to the seven years she spent with Belltower?
"There are so many variables, it's hard to know what will work," she says. A possibility: "It makes me feel more secure to work with someone whose taste I really respect. When you have mutual respect, and you trust the other person's opinion, that's a great place to be." Of course, says Phillips, there's no definite recipe for couple-to-band success. "If you have a great relationship, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll create good music. It could be total crap."
Matt and Kim
We have never written a love song, and will never write a love song. It's just too cheesy. You don't want to go there.
This is the unofficial band rule Matt Johnson, one half of the Brooklyn manic-dance-punk duo Matt and Kim (who'll play the House of Blues in Boston in March), offers on the phone from the road in Wisconsin, where he and Kim Schifino (a/k/a the "Kim" half of the band — duh) are driving between gigs in Dekalb, Illinois, and Minneapolis. Occasionally, Johnson and Schifino's robot-voiced GPS pipes in in the background, reminding them where to go in this unfamiliar territory. Which leads Johnson to speak another truth he's discovered in the past four years of band coupledom: