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The Long Winters front man, John Roderick, talks about the new album, his friendship with John Hodgman, and other insights | the long winters library & archive

The Long Winters front man, John Roderick, talks about the new album, his friendship with John Hodgman, and other insights

Seattle PI
Nick Peyton
Publication date: 
September 29, 2010

In high school, I spent a lot of time thinking about the inspiration of song lyrics. I used to drive a 1978 red and white Ford Thunderbird. It was a v-8 beast with faded white leather bench seats. In the winter, sitting on those freezing seats always made me think of the line in that popular Ben Folds Five song “Brick,” and for a moment, I knew exactly how that car seat must have felt on that day after Christmas. Well… almost.

Often with music, you never know the inspiration, reason, or cause for song lyrics and you use your own life experience to fill in the blanks of the canvas. In July, I attended the first of two solo shows at the Triple Door of former Capitol Hill resident and the Long Winters front man, John Roderick. I had a chance to interview him afterward. He provided me with what I’d been longing for, that little paint on his song lyrics, his reflections on music, and the upcoming the Long Winters album.

Roderick walked on stage at the Triple Door in a lightly striped shirt from Costco, Kirkland Signature brand. The top button undone. His oversized, suede brown glasses contrasted his graying beard. His long, shaggy, sandy hair matched his yellow socks. He joked with a girl in the audience who was sitting alone, and asked her why she didn’t have 100 boyfriends. She replied, “You never call me back.”

Onstage, Roderick was a mixture of jovial and nostalgic. He told the audience about his first band in 1991, Chautauqua, which he said, “Sounded like XTC because that was what we thought was going to be the direction of the Seattle music scene.” Hindsight humor, particularly 20 years later, always cracks me up. He told stories about his next band – The Bun Family Players, an attempt to come up with the worst band name ever.

It has been four years since the Long Winters released their last album – Putting the Days to Bed. I asked Roderick about the album. He says the vocals are the only part not recorded. At the Triple Door, Roderick teased the audience with a new one titled, “Not Moving to Portland,” an up-tempo song about how all the cute girls are moving to Portland.

Roderick tweets a lot. Often back and forth with John Hodgman (actor, author, and personification of PC in Apple’s commercials). Hodgman invites Roderick to many of his speaking engagements. This unlikely friendship began at a benefit concert for an 826 writing center (a nonprofit organization that helps teens with writing) in New York. “We hit it off because we are both experts on all topics, and we both like making wisecracks and appreciating other people’s wisecracks,” Roderick recalls.

I never understood the lyrics of “Mimi,” track four from the Long Winters first album – “I was so lazy, all hands and fives, those flaming babies came down from the sky.” Roderick explained, driving down a lonely Alaskan highway, a girl who he was dating blew into his ear. It was a curvy, mountainous road. Roderick swerved into the path of a school bus heading in the opposite direction. It was a near miss. The flaming babies line was what if the old Chrysler he was driving hit the school bus.

I read somewhere that Roderick was listed as one of Seattle’s most sexy people. I ask if it was true. Roderick responded: “I can only answer that everyone in Seattle will have to judge with their own eyes, and with their hearts. This story of me being in some ‘Seattle’s sexiest people’ magazine article keeps coming up, but no one has ever shown me the original magazine. Maybe it was in Northwest Mycologist or Madison Park Shopper.”

John Roderick is playing is playing his second solo show at the Triple Door tomorrow. A few tickets remain.