- If you played in a band in the late nineties there was no better place to play then Luna Lounge. Located on Ludlow Street in the heart of the lower east side it was the epicenter for the downtown music scene. Rob Sacher, part owner had an ear for music and his ear literally helped change downtown forever. In my opinion, the NYC music scene was never the same the day Luna Lounge closed in 2005. It’s where such bands as The Strokes, Elliot Smith, Interpol, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and I think even De La Soul got their start. It was literally a launching pad for the next big thing. I interviewed Rob in regards to a rumor that he is writing a book about those magical days. Keep reading below..and Rob keep writing!
1. When did you open (L.E.S.) Luna Lounge and went did it officially close?My former partner, Dianne Galliano and I, opened Luna Lounge in August of 1995. We officially closed in June of 2005.
2. What were your goals in regards to Luna at this time? ( I always loved the Luna favorite bands page on the site. At the time it was a great accomplishment for a band starting out in NYC.) My goal was to create a comfortable bar on the Lower East Side where my friends, and their friends, would like to hang out. In the beginning, the back room was not a performance space. It was filled with a dozen easy chairs which we had purchased, used, at a Salvation Army store in Allentown, PA.. It was not until a couple of months after we opened that we decided to do live music in the back room. One chair remained throughout the decade and was still there on the day that we closed. It’s now in the Rock-Roll Hall Of Fame, or maybe in a land fill in Staten Island.
3. Top 5 Bands that came through?Wow, that’s a tough one to answer. It’s like asking which of the five fingers on your hand comes through as your favorite. What good is a thumb without a pointer? Obviously, I was profoundly affected by Elliott Smith and his performance at Luna Lounge. I also remember the night that The Strokes first performed at Luna and thinking that they would be the best band with whom I would ever work with, Interpol’s not so secret show where Luna was so crowded that I could not get into the back room and had to watch it on our television hanging overhead at the front end of our bar, Longwave’s show, when they returned after having headlined at Irving Plaza, to perform one last time at Luna a few weeks before we closed, and Cheap Trick. No, wait, that was a dream that I had. Cheap Trick didn’t really play at Luna…
4. Assuming you’ll answer The Strokes: Did you think The Strokes would make it as big as they did after seeing them for the first time? Who really ever knows how high is up? I did know that The Strokes were the best band that I had ever worked with at Luna Lounge
5. Top 5 Bands that never made it that played Luna?Ah, the list of ’should have beens’ will have to include:
1. Bulldog, short lived band including members of the Detroit Cobras and the Black Crows. They certainly rocked my world on the night that they played Luna Lounge.
2. The Astrojet, the psychedelic guitar rock band featuring Jody Porter, otherwise known as the lead guitarist in Fountains Of Wayne. I still listen to songs from their album almost every week.
3. Kitty In The Tree, never the same after the tragic events of 9/11…
4. Travis Pickle, a very smart rock pop band that often played to a full room at Luna and whose album was the first one to be released on our label, LunaSea Records.
5. Probe, a concept band from the twenty second century… Just too far ahead of their time!
6. I remember you started a record label, how did that come about?
I wanted to find a very good way to lose all of my money so I came up with the idea of starting a label. Almost all of the bands broke up within months of having released their music on LunaSea, which led to our motto, “You Got To Be Crazy To Be On LunaSea.” No, actually, I wanted to help draw some attention to some of the very good talent that was playing at Luna Lounge…
7. Was Brooklyn your first choice for the second attempt at Luna Lounge?
My first choice was to stay on the Lower East Side but that was not practical, but I also wanted to be near where the talent was living and that was no longer in Manhattan. I loved the building in which we created the Brooklyn version of Luna Lounge and it might have been successful had I been able to have more booking agents commit to booking shows there but, unfortunately, I ended up in direct competition with another night club organization that probably blocked that from happening.
8. Your new club Satellite Lounge is not a venue for bands to play. What was behind that decision?
The dismal state of the American economy. The dismal state of my economy. I was driving a taxi cab last year after being nearly economically wiped out. This space became available in a neighborhood on a block filled with people who are rooting for my come back… Satellite Lounge will soon be doing acoustic shows, but this bar is really about having a place to hoist up a beer and sing along with my IPOD.
9. How has the music scene changed since the original Luna Lounge? Obviously the NYC explosion over saturated the scene, but what other factors do you think changed the scene?
New York City had always been a place where musicians had migrated from other parts of the world. When it was cheaper to live here, the city had character. It was filled with characters… Now those characters are living in Bushwick. Some of the best bands I have seen in the last decade are living in Brooklyn. Three of which come to mind are The Vandelles, Cruel Black Dove, and Telltale, and while they do perform in Manhattan clubs, I do not believe that they ever hang out there, preferring to stay in Brooklyn where the cost of living is lower.
10. What bands are you listening to these days?The Vandelles, Hurricane Bells, Cruel Black Dove, Telltale, The Izzys, A Place To Bury Strangers, Ceremony, and Longwave.
11. Today, what motivates you? A desire to finish my autobiography, I try and write everyday.
12. I am seriously excited about your upcoming book and think you have a great story to tell. What was behind your decision to write one?
There are quite a number of young girls who come into Satellite Lounge. They often like to sit on my lap and ask me to tell them a story. So, I make up a lot of shit. One day, I realized that some of the stuff I retold was actually true, and that I should write it down before I could not recall the difference. Honestly, I am bored to death sitting at the bar night after night. I need a project, something with which I can have a creative release in my life. And, unless someone wants to invest in a new version of Luna Lounge, I cannot foresee anything for me ahead but continuing shots of Jack and bottles of beer to reboot. So, a book about Rob seemed like a good idea at the time.
Any last words or people you would like to acknowledge?Yes, I would like to thank my taylor, Simon, my therapist, Dr. Robert, and my ex, who had the foresight to leave me just when I needed her most…