John Roderick, the founder, singer, and guitarist for Seattle literati-pop band the Long Winters, is poised to reap the whirlwind of his city’s post-post-grunge era, which he allows is superior to the post-grunge era. “The post-grunge scene lasted from ’94 to ’98,” he recalls. “Most of the music from that era was very confusing and bad, since everyone hated grunge and was trying frantically to play the mathiest, most convoluted nonsense they could dream up. I was at the forefront of that movement.”
He is now at the forefront of the post-movement. “Now everyone is making alt-twee-twiddle pop, hoping to get their music in a Volkswagen commercial,” he says, e-mailing in the midst of a European tour. “My place in the current scene is that I’m just recognizable enough for waitresses and baristas to feel like they have to be extra rude in order to prove that they don’t care about my band.”
Those people are faking it. Roderick’s instantly jelling melodies launched his Winters’ third full-length, Putting the Days to Bed, into this year’s Pazz and Jop Top 100. His ballooning fan base obsesses over his counterintuitive narratives and squeals even during his abrasive show chatter. (He once asked an indignant concertgoer for his mom’s address, so Roderick would know where to send the heckler’s stuff when he was dead.) He pals around with top-of-the-popsters like Keane, with whom the Winters toured in 2005.
But the 38-year-old Roderick wants oh so much more. “Seattle is one of America’s nicest cities,” he imparts. “Frankly, at this stage of my life I’d rather live in New York, but I’m postponing the move until I meet the right girl . . . one who’ll understand me completely, who has a graduate degree in the life sciences, who’s independently wealthy and possibly minor nobility—like maybe the Viscountess of Liechtenstein—but who has spent her young life in monastic seclusion searching for the perfect, shiftless artist type who masks his heart of gold beneath a transparent and tragic veneer of irony.”
In conclusion, he’d like his band to be as big as U2. “What can’t the Edge do?” he wonders. “If he wants to drive across America in a green-flake ’66 Pontiac SS convertible, he can just go buy one and do it. Or he can collect old maps of the Balkans hand-painted on vellum or parchment, or probably get a German passport under the name Helmut Schninklewinkle. He can snub Eric Clapton at a party! He can have a really nice oil painting done of his mom and give it to her for Christmas.” Someone find this guy a good woman.
The Long Winters play Maxwell’s in Hoboken March 30, the Mercury Lounge March 31 and April 1, and Union Hall April 2.