Funky Martin Luther, or An Autumnal Update

Hello all and sundry Long Winters fans, acolytes, tourists and contributors. I have been a very neglectful contributor to our Internet salon over the summer, and unfortunately missed out on the scintillating political discussion that flared up on the message board, but now I’m taking my vitamins again and the coming of autumn has me all excited to put on my wooly sweaters and jump back into the fray.

First let me say that our message board community has stunned me with their enthusiasm and breadth of topic. I’ve been futzing about all summer, drinking Arnold Palmers and yelling at people in supermarkets, and it’s wonderful to find that you’ve been so talkative in my absence. I would like to claim that the summer was a deeply reflective period during which I renewed my commitment to the artist’s life and lay on my humble pallet feverishly dreaming of jabberwockies and scribbling it all down in an opium-infused lucidity, and so I will claim that and I dare anyone to refute me. Now that fall is here, while the first scent of decaying leaves is still fresh in our minds, let’s take a gander at all the wonderful developments in the world of the Long Winters.

We went right back in to the studio as soon as we finished our last tour and tried for another month to wrap up the third Long Winters record, to no avail. Of course, there were only two actual Long Winters still left alive at the start of July: the redoubtable Eric Corson and myself, and Eric was often busy with his other band and his many social obligations throughout the summer, so that for several weeks I was simply floating unrestrained in my musical imagination, aided only by our recordist, Tucker Martine. The result is, thus far, a pretty fanciful and schizophrenic project that is miles away from the stripped down and lean, “River Otters Tours” of the spring. I fully intended to make a record that reflected the energy and humor of our live set, but once in the studio I discovered that my interest as a songwriter is not in making zippy, snarky music. Who knows why this is? I suppose I could force myself to sit and listen to an exclusive diet of the Red Hot Chili Peppers until all I wanted to sing about was my funky sex organs, but I made the mistake of reading a book on the Reformation instead and so all my songs are about funky Martin Luther.

This dichotomy is confusing to me. I love putting on a ‘rock show!!!’ with three exclamation points, but then I turn around and write a dozen songs of broken-heartedness and despair and record them with no thought to ever having to play them live. It’s clear that there will need to be a couple of new Long Winters brought into the fold this fall and I’ve been putting the word out in a quiet way, testing the waters, but it is such a major commitment to add new members that whenever the topic comes up between us, Eric and I just roll our eyes and put it off for another month. We’ve already destroyed the lives of several former Long Winters, reducing them to quivering lumps of ectoplasm by our constant touring and joyless, ashen-faced commitment to the purest form of “indie rock”, so finding new members is going to involve a protracted initiation so full of unimaginable horrors that I don’t relish the prospect of dreaming them up.

Maybe for the first time in my life I’m sated with traveling. This time last year we were leaving on tour with Death Cab, having already been to Europe once and out with Centro-Matic and Nada Surf, and there were half a dozen tours to come, with Nada Surf again, and the Pernice Brothers and the Decemberists, and twice more to Europe. By the time July was finished, our new record half in the can, I just wanted to sit in the garden and read, oblivious to rock music and the so-called “year that indie-rock broke”. Well-meaning friends have encouraged me to strike while the iron is hot, to not be gone too long so that people forget about the Long Winters in their rush to buy the hot new releases, but I feel no panic. First off: to hell with everyone. Secondly: go ahead and buy the hot new releases, we’ll all be dead in seventy years no matter what you do. And C: whither thou goest, go thither, or whatever. Rather than work too hard at music and thereby deprive myself of a full and varied life experience I started writing every day, writing prose instead of songs, and working furiously on the book I’ve been trying to finish for the last five years about my walk to Istanbul. I started working on this fucking book five years ago, when it was doubtful that I would ever have a band again and when the thought of playing music made me itchy and paranoid. Here I am five years later writing the same story and enjoying the fact that the circumstances of my life have completely changed. Hopefully I’ll have the book and the new record done by the early spring.

I’ve made a few attempts to write something for the site about the current political situation, just in order to not feel left out now that everyone who ever opened a can of Mountain Dew is prattling on about their views, but I couldn’t bring myself to complete the thought. Since I’ve chosen music as my way of expressing myself I feel like I owe it to you, the listener, to not tax your enthusiasm by asking you to endure the conceit that I am also a political scientist. Not that I don’t have political opinions: oh, I do! But nothing is more ridiculous than newly politicized pop musicians exhorting their fans to political action. Entertainers should confine themselves to banging their tambourines, as should ministers, and leave the business of government to the highly qualified gentlemen at Hallibuton.

Whatever happens this fall, the Long Winters are going to be a different band when you see us play again. We’ll be reinvented by the process of learning to play our new songs and our old songs will find a new life as well, probably closer to the way they were recorded but with all the innovations that came form playing them so many different ways over the last two years. Being a fan of this band requires a certain resiliency, and I hope that you are rewarded for your open minds. Excelsior!