Friday, July 28, 2006

A semi-serious interview with John Roderick of the Long Winters!

Download: The Long Winters--"Pushover" MP3

John Roderick of the Long Winters is going to be playing a special FREE solo set on August 5th! at the Go! Bar here in Athens during our Team Clermont Summer Festival. The performance starts promptly at 3:00. In celebration of this momentous event--the Long Winters are one of the most intelligent pop groups around and Roderick's one of the most charismatic frontmen I've ever seen--I conducted a short interview with some really stupid questions and a couple of good ones. Enjoy!

Me: When you think of Georgia, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

John: The Bandit! They're thirsty in Atlanta, and there's beer in Texarkana!

Me: How about Athens?

John: REM, obviously. I'm old enough to remember the days of "college rock", when Athens, GA. seemed like the most mysterious and wonderful place in the universe.

Me: How about the name "Lucas?"

John: It makes me think of the late-seventies TV show, "Buck Rogers", although I can't say why.

Me: Did you go to your prom? Any good prom stories?

John: I did go to my prom. My date's mom made her dress, and then modified her dad's wedding suit to match for me. The lapels of my suit were pink tiger-stripe satin, as was the stripe down the leg, and her dress had a matching bow and accents. We were pretty cool, for a couple of nerds.

Me: What do you think about tails on a tux? Pro or con?

John: If you wear tails, you should absolutely be conducting the Boston Symphony. Otherwise, no.

Me: What is your least favorite term for a genre of music (e.g. math rock, post-punk, etc.)?

John: Well, indie-rock is a meaningless term, but I don't hate it. I guess I would have to say "alt-country".

Me: Your stage banter is fantastic. Do you practice beforehand? Do you do the same jokes every night (I saw the Beach Boys last night and they did the same jokes from five years ago)?

John: I don't tell "jokes". I learned my style of banter from having a smart-mouthed little sister who constantly needed to be put in her place, so if dealing with her and her "punk rock" teenage friends counts as practice, I guess I've practiced. The Beach Boys are ass-clowns.

Me: What is the worst TV show you ever liked?

John: Magnum PI. I'm sure Fantasy Island was worse, but I was forced to watch it during "family time", so it doesn't count. These days I watch poker tournaments on TV, and I think they're brilliant.

Me: Are you tired of reading about your being from Alaska?

John: Most of the time people just write "he's from Alaska", and then drop it. Alaska itself is totally fascinating, so I'm amazed that more writers don't pick up on it and ask a bunch of questions. It really made me who I am. So, no, I'm not tired of it, because I keep expecting an interesting follow-up question. Still waiting, however.

Me: Want a follow-up on Alaska? How do people develop musically in Alaska? You always hear about Seattle being "remote" and that's why grunge happened, b/c (and I'm paraphrasing Eddie Vedder or someone here) they weren't told that listening to Aerosmith, Zeppelin, and Neil Young together wasn't cool or something like that. I buy that to a degree having grown up in Alabama and generally not being cool and seeing lots of strange bands, but at the same time, it's not like Seattle is some barren musical wasteland disconnected from the world. I mean, Alaska is really far away from anything and I imagine that getting music was difficult and playing in bands even more so.

John: yes. It's so remote from the music scenes of the world that it doesn't help at all. I mean, the desire to make music may be innate in humans, but having a band and making records depends somewhat on a "scene". You want to be able to see other people doing it, playing in bands, writing songs, etc., in order to feel like it's possible. In Alaska, at least while I was growing up, there wasn't much of that. There's not much room in the culture up there for introspective action, for work of the mind. It's a physical place, focused on strength and survival, which means that, if you want to live a thoughtful life you really have to fight for it, and you don't take it for granted once you've found it. That process made me more than anything.

Me: What is your favorite fast food item (I like the Whopper a whole lot even though I don't eat them anymore)?

John: Wendy's Frosty.

Me: What's something you've always wanted to explain about your music in an interview but has never come up?

John: I don't really want to explain my music that much, because I think it's self-explanatory for the most part. What I REALLY want to explain are my complicated economic theories, but no one seems interested in hearing my proposal for a depletion tax on non-renewable resources, so in the meantime I'm happy to talk about pop music.


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