By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
John Roderick of the Seattle-based band The Long Winters basically writes in non sequiturs. Consider the opening salvo from "Shapes," the most infectious track on the band's last release, 2003's When I Pretend to Fall: "Rice won't grow at home/And the moon doesn't favor girls/Giant fork and spoon/Is a sign that the game is on."
Here and most everywhere, Roderick appears intent on throwing together words that just sound cool (and to hell with coherence). So it seemed only natural to relieve the following transcript of actual questions and simply let Roderick have the floor.
"We were in the studio working, and the recording process kind of bogged down. I had a bunch of unfinished tracks, half an unfinished book I was trying to write, and had grown a really long beard and gotten fat. But I was doing just fine, reading a lot and writing, and not really that conscious of the passage of time."
"During that period last winter, I went to a big festival here that featured Keane and Franz Ferdinand and the Killers and so forth, and ended up having dinner with the guys from Keane after the show. It was a late-night feast around a big table with a lot of spilled wine and ribald stories. The next day Keane's piano player, Tim, called and wanted help finding the good music stores in Seattle. I looked very unkempt compared to Tim, but we had a good time goofing around, looking at used distortion boxes in all the junky guitar stores out here. A few months later, they asked us to do a tour with them."
"It was then that I realized that I had gone a little bananas. The Long Winters hadn't played in over a year, and people were starting to whisper. When I sat down at a table, everyone moved the glassware out of my reach. So I realized I had to give the appearance of being perfectly sane, shaved my beard, stopped talking about World War I as if it was still going on, and decided we'd release the best tracks from our unfinished record as an EP."
"When we get back to Seattle in October, we're going right into the studio to start recording a new full-length record, which should be out in the spring of next year. I'm not too worried about people forgetting about us while we're gone, because life is long."
"I think St. Louis audiences are pretty colorful, and that's not even considering Beatle Bob. The first show we ever played in St. Louis was at Frederick's Music Lounge, which set the bar pretty high in terms of 'colorful audiences.' Although there were only about ten people huddled around the bar, we sold seven CDs. Frederick's is also the place we picked up one of our Long Winters' Overheard Tour Non Sequiturs: 'I didn't fall out of an airplane. I'm looking for a goddamn job!'"
"I never think in terms of 'deference' toward another band, because any amount of the 'we're not worthy' mentality just robs the show of energy. The headlining band already has the cards stacked in their favor: They play a much longer set, and the audience is presumably already on their side. The opener has to jump out there unprepared and squeeze off a 45-minute set, and it's a huge challenge to try and captivate an audience and bring them into your world under those conditions. One of the ways I try to do that is by just dropping the pretense. 'Hi, what's up? Nice hat. Is that your girlfriend? Thanks for coming.' I don't want anyone to think that they can sit at a table four feet from the stage and carry on a loud conversation about their day at work. We're not on TV; we're standing right in front of you in real life. It's harder to do that opening for a band like Keane. We're playing in a much larger room, and I have no doubt there will be people in the back of the hall exchanging ring tones on their cell phones or whatever, so I have to respect the scale of things. But it's still a rock show, so that's what we intend to do."
"The uncomfortable truth of early-'90s Seattle is that it looked pretty much like the early '90s in every other depressed small city in America. The music scene was small and insular, most of the bands were terrible, and there were way more 'heshers' and LA-style glam-metal douchebags than earnest, punk-rock sages. I worked in a bar where they filmed some of the scenes [for the grunge-romance flick Singles] and remember Matt Dillon hanging out with his new buddies, Pearl Jam, who were still unknown outside of Seattle, taking pictures of each other and playing slap-and-tickle. I thought, 'There goes the neighborhood.'"
"That drunken Midwestern guy with a Telecaster who slops his way through lovelorn songs in a fake Southern accent thing, I never really got into. Ryan Adams is doing the exact same thing now. I admit they have moments of rare beauty, but the aesthetic of standing around in thrift-store cowboy boots waiting for a liver transplant is really, really played out. Invariably they become parodies of themselves. I got the feeling that 'Dyslexic Heart' was Paul Westerberg sitting down and thinking, 'I should write a song with the word "dyslexic" in it.'"