by Chris Estey
“The Long Winters know which staples to buy in bulk, and which to get fresh from local grocers... In short, being a fan of The Long Winters is a zero-risk proposition. You are Guaranteed to Be Pleased.” That’s from the band’s bio on their MySpace page, which I’m going to guess was written by lead LW John Roderick. The rest of the history might be a little more typical, but not much.
Until now my favorite rock bio was the one Paul Westerberg wrote for the Replacements’ final record on Minneapolis label Twin/Tone, before they went to a major label. Four paragraphs, and perfectly informative and hilarious. Last I saw that one-sheet was beneath glass at the Experience Music Project in the ‘80s indie section. That Roderick can replace it in my heart says a lot about his skills as a writer, and that I have no embarrassment of putting The Long Winters in the same paragraph as the Replacements, with no trepidation.
It’s been a couple years since the Winters put out their last LP, Putting The Days To Bed. A dynamic DVD came out since then of them playing at the Showbox (that I hyped like crazy on this blog), but rumors of struggles with new material have fueled speculation about the delay of its follow up. Meanwhile, Roderick has been scribing articles about his salad days (I think economically he’s worked up to soup) in the Seattle scene and “What Dad Doesn’t Tell You About Keeping A Beard” for the Seattle Weekly.
Many great songwriters have drifted to prose when the songs aren’t coming as quickly as they used to, but the meticulous quality of the Long Winters’ work betrays a lifelong tension with poetic expression and musical perfectionism. The soul of lighter tracks such as “Stupid” and “Teaspoon” unfold as indie rock Van Morrison as they flow along with blazing gems like “Commander Thinks Aloud” and “Ultimatum.” There are no other writer-performers in his milieu that seems as effortless, almost careless with an overflow of genius. I can’t argue with what I’m sure is an absolutely self-mocking line to the bio, “Long Winters is the greatest indie-rock band in the Americas.” Although I’m sure Roderick would.
Sporting a new drummer (we’ll sniffle as we wave goodbye to Nabil Ayers, one of Seattle’s best drummers and now far away), The Long Winters play the first night of Bumbershoot, Saturday, September 5th, at 9:30 PM on the Broad Street Stage. Watch one of our best rock poets play loose and wonderful guitar with a very tight band; and Nabil has all the vinyl of the band on his awesome label The Control Group if you haven’t collected it all yet!