Roderick on the Line podcast
John Roderick is the songwriter and singer/guitarist of The Long Winters, forming the band from a mound of clay back in 2001. Widely acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent artists, credited with resurrecting Seattle’s moribund music scene and bringing new life to the rock genre, John also writes his own press bios. A central figure in the Northwest music community, John nevertheless maintains his outsider status by being both dangerously edgy and completely huggable, in contravention of established Seattle practice. Equally talented at almost any instrument, (except guitar, at which he is even more talented), John has made it nearly impossible for any other musicians to find work in Washington State, effectively playing ALL the music that needs to be played. John is also a widely respected journalist, an extensively quoted author and philosopher, a prima ballerina, a cowboy and an astronaut.
Bass and harmony vocals: ‘01-present
Eric Corson grew up in Kent, WA and joined The Long Winters in 2001, after the recording of The Worst You Can Do is Harm was completed. He showed up to his first audition fresh off an Alaskan fishing boat having learned all the songs on a five-string acoustic guitar. He was a young-looking and slouchy little hippy, so the band immediately subjected him to cruel and demoralizing verbal harassment in the hope that it would either break his spirit or forge him into an iron-willed road-warrior. He rose to the challenge and, hardened by touring and by the constant verbal firestorm, transformed into a sarcastic and wiry monster who can sleep standing up in a corner and play indie-rock under sustained machine-gun fire, if that opportunity ever arises. Eric is also a great harmony vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and recording engineer who has tracked large portions of the new Long Winters record in his apartment and in John’s mom’s basement.
Nabil Ayers, from Salt Lake City, UT joined The Long Winters after passing a rigorous audition which included playing Frisbee for an hour in the Post Office parking lot. He earned his bones playing in various Seattle bands such as the Lemons, Micro Mini, and Alien Crime Syndicate, (legends all) developing a reputation as one of Seattle’s most elegant and respected drum-masters. In addition to his very “vibey” playing he was also a calming and stabilizing presence in the band, mostly because he was so busy sending emails on his Blackberry that he completely missed most of the conversation and ended up agreeing with everyone. Nabil was once known as the “nicest man in Seattle rock” because he’s such a slick operator none of the hayseeds around the Northwest could tell he was robbing them blind, but after a few years in The Long Winters he dropped all pretense of being nice and started being quite upfront about only being in it for the money. He also co-owns Sonic Boom Records, a hipster music chain that hires a lot of cool kids who silently judge you while you shop, and he puts out records himself on his Control Group record label. Sadly for us, he is now the head of 4AD records in America and lives in Brooklyn, like the music business swine he is, charging ridiculous dinners and long cab rides to the recoupable expenses of young bands.
Jonathan is originally from Atlanta, GA and cut his teeth playing in various teenaged post-punk bands before emigrating to the crisp air and stoner folk-pop of Missoula, MT. Introduced to The Long Winters through his friend, Ghost Stories/Shins member Ron Lewis, Jonathan arrived at his audition already able to play the entire LW’s catalogue on both guitar and piano. He quickly established himself as an indispensable member of the band, both by mastering all of John Roderick’s long-forgotten piano and guitar parts and by adding his incomprehensible wit to otherwise prosaic conversations. Jon’s youthful enthusiasm made him the band’s ambassador, always willing to grab a pint or discuss the finer points of songwriting or gear with fellow musicians and fans. He was also one of the few members of the Long Winters to ever actually care about indie-rock, continually explaining which bands influenced which other bands, and why it all really, really matters. He would whisper things like, “The guy walking up to us right now is the washboard player in the band Eskimo Alternator from Chapel Hill, but he used to play soprano saxophone in Frank is a Girl back in the nineties, who were one of the biggest bands of the Toledo punk/polka revival. Don’t shake his hand, because he’s germophobic.” Being in a band with him was like being President of the United States, if the President needed to know about indie rock. He now lives in Brooklyn, and is studying to become a high school math teacher.
Keyboards and harmony vocals: ’00-’04
Sean was a founding member of The Long Winters, was instrumental in the recording of the first record and acted as consigliore and Minister without Portfolio throughout much of the first four years of the band. Better known as the singer of late-nineties alt-rock heroes Harvey Danger, he is also an accomplished journalist, actor, and radio personality (on Seattle’s KEXP), has functioned as a corporate sell-out in some indefinable job at the Microsoft Corp, is a member of Robyn Hitchcock’s touring cavalcade, and is presently living in a hollowed-out tree on the edge of the forest. Sean began threatening to leave The Long Winters immediately upon joining the band and could often be seen scowling at his bandmates and scribbling furious notes in his journal, giving the distinct impression of recording for posterity each and every mean thing that was ever said to or about him, filling volumes. Sean’s personality, both on stage and off, had a lasting impact on the band and has proved very difficult to remove, despite the use of scouring pads and the purchase of Christmas tree air-fresheners now numbering in the dozens.
Rock Bottom on Facebook
Michael was the original Long Winters drummer, the Enforcer, fact-checker, anxious back-seat driver, and alternating foil for everyone else. A fiction writer, Michael was employed for many years in the time-honored fashion of fiction writers—writing advertising copy—but then went straight and taught in the graduate writing program at Ann Arbor. He was a unifying presence in the early years of the band because he was equally irritated at everyone and hence inspired a real feeling of community. His erudition and mannered deportment infused the band with a literary and cultured air, in contrast to his aggressive drumming which greatly “rockified” the show and began the tradition of live performances being “interpretations” of their CD’s. The rigors of touring, particularly in Europe, the low pay, and the intolerable snoring of certain other members of the band ultimately convinced Michael that his literary ambitions were worthy of more constant attention, and he left the band in early 2004. His debut novel, Rock Bottom, about life in a rock band (yikes!) was published in 2009.
Chris was the first member of the Long Winters touring band, signing on as keyboardist (an instrument with which he had almost no familiarity) and moving from New York to Seattle in the process. A constant source of trouble and ‘angry white guy’ hilarity, Chris was widely credited, within the band, with having held the whole shebang together during the tumultuous first few tours. Wickedly funny, anti-authoritarian, and unapologetically racist and sexist (rooted in his fear of the “other” and in his latent homosexuality) Chris made the hours between thankless gigs in bomb shelters and cesspools seem like extended comedy jams, and many all-night drives were enlivened by his rants. As boring and irritating as that may sound, it was really quite great. The protected atmosphere of the van unleashed in Chris a comedy dynamo that no one knew existed, and soon his fellow Long Winters were encouraging him to pursue stand-up comedy as his true calling, not the least of which was because his keyboard playing never really improved. In the summer of 2003 he returned to New York with a renewed sense of purpose, teaching “Intro to Improv” at the People’s Improv Theater and performing improv and stand-up, as well as waiting tables, doing carpentry, and turning tricks to pay the rent in the Big Apple. Recently he’s moved to Los Angeles in the time-honored tradition of New York actors.
Producer and multi-instrumentalist: ’01-’03
Mr. Walla had already made a name for himself by early 2000 as a recording engineer and producer for his work on the first two Death Cab for Cutie records and he was eagerly recording other bands and experimenting with new projects. He seized on the as-yet-unnamed Long Winters project, quickly becoming a de-facto member of the group as well as the producer and Svengali, and imparted to the recording his now distinctive style of intricate production as well as his many talents as guitarist/pianist/arranger. Unfortunately his commitments to Death Cab and his insistence on eating only Veggie Lunchables and birdseed prohibited his becoming a touring member of the band, but he was again behind the board for the recording of “When I Pretend To Fall”. His contributions to that record are at the core of its unique sound and, although he handed off the production to Ken Stringfellow halfway due to previous commitments, his work on it is instantly recognizable and characteristic of his creativity and boldness. He is currently a household name and world-renowned producer with a cult-like following, forcing him to tint the windows of his powder-blue Bentley until they are almost opaque
Producer and multi-instrumentalist: ’03
Ken “joined” The Long Winters during the tour to support his album “Touched” when he asked the band to open for him and be his backing band. He soon reciprocated, singing harmonies and doing high-kicks on stage with the Long Winters, culminating in two legendary nights when he actually sang lead vocals when John had laryngitis, reading the lyrics from the album liner notes. In addition to impressing the LW’s every night with his seasoned and worldly professionalism, Ken also demonstrated how to survive by drinking the blood of teenage girls, providing a firsthand look at the kind of depravity a lifetime in “rock music” can produce. At the end of the Touched tour the LW’s started work in the studio with Chris Walla, but Ken was a familiar and daily presence, butting in, rolling his eyes, and offering unsolicited advice. Ultimately Ken took over the producer’s chair and was a champion of the lush sound that characterizes that album. He also played and sang on several songs, cementing his status as Long Winter emeritus. Today, Ken can be found living in Paris with his wife, Dominique and young daughter, and fronting a Norwegian rock band, the Disciplines. He would like you to be his Facebook friend.
Drums: spring ’04
Michael Schorr was friends with The Long Winters from his time as the drummer of Death Cab for Cutie during which time they shared many a stage and Michael cemented his reputation as both a very good drummer and a very difficult and dangerous-seeming person. After he left DCFC he focused his attention fully on listening to prog-rock and mastering first-person-shooter video games, which automatically qualified him for a stint in The Long Winters despite his vocal advocacy of Windows-based computer solutions. In his short tenure with the band he brought a new and awesome commitment to rhythmic propulsion, (“I have no knowledge of melodic instruments…”—Michael Schorr), as well as nearly doubling the number of competent drivers in the band. He was the only eighteenth-level magic user with a +4 charisma to have been in The Long Winters (John is a 25th level chaotic-neutral Paladin) and also represents a thousand-fold increase in the number of band members who have ever lived in Chico, Ca. The only downside to Michael’s time in the band was that his and Eric’s conversations about 3-D Graphics programming acted as one of the most powerful sedatives known to man.
Drums: summer ’04
Darius joined The Long Winters for the Capitol Hill Street Fair in July ’04 and played several shows with the band including a surprise show at the Comet Tavern and an outdoor show at the State Government campus in Lacey, Washington. Then, after a five year interim, again joined the band for a show in Portland at MusicFest NW. Darius is perhaps best known as the drummer of the Posies but he also plays in the Preston School of Industry and is generally considered one of the nicest, cutest, and most retarded people in the whole Seattle music community. Although he only played with The Long Winters for a half a dozen shows, those shows will be remembered as truly memorable in the memory, if for no other reason than that it means a majority (5 out of 9) of present and former Posies have appeared or recorded with The Long Winters. Gross.
Darius sadly passed away suddenly in 2015, and is greatly missed.
Guitar: spring ’04
Darren is an excellent guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who joined the band for the Nada Surf tour in the early spring of 2004. He has his own band, Juke, and performs with the Jelly Rollers and as a solo singer/guitarist. Darren once won the coveted “Best Blues Guitarist” award, or something like that, from the Northwest Blues Society, or something. He also plays guitar in various side-projects with Sean Nelson and Sweet Hereafter bassist Bill Herzog, including “’Tommy’ All the Way Through”, a performance of the entire Who record front to back, which was amazing. Darren continues to be a fixture of the Seattle music community and is at work on a new album.
Mike Squires grew up in the rural backwater of Granite Falls, WA and is a longtime Seattle musician who has played guitar and bass in a variety of bands including the Nevada Bachelors, Romadrosis, Alien Crime Syndicate and a variety of other half-baked jazz and metal combos. Splitting his time between Portland and Seattle, Mike brought The Long Winters back together after their “lost weekend” period in 2004 with his Vegas-style showmanship and his crack Marine Corps typing-pool discipline. Mike played on the first Long Winters record, tracking both the guitar and bass parts on the song “Scent of Lime”, but the extremely strict conditions of his parole at the time prohibited him from joining the band until 2005, and forced his departure less than a year later. Mike is a true music fan, a guitar collector, and a Northwest original, capable of rambling incoherently about the merits of various vintage chorus effects pedals until even the most die-hard guitar wanker loses the feeling in his hands. He can currently be found touring Japan or Germany or somewhere, playing guitar in Duff McKagan’s Loaded.