What's the worst job you can imagine? Metallica therapist? Scott Weiland's proctologist? Britney Spears's publicist? What about being a wealthy wife?
"I can't think of a worse job for someone to aspire to have," says John Roderick. The singer is reached at a tour stop in Switzerland when the Straight asks him about the tune "Rich Wife", off the latest album from his band, the Long Winters. "It seems like the kind of job you're just going to hate every minute of. Yet a lot of girls I knew coming up in Seattle, it's not that they're looking to marry a rich guy, but they definitely dream of the lifestyle, the freedom they think being a rich wife would afford them to do their art projects or care for animals or have a great garden-all the things they want to do with their life. So that song is a little bit of a sarcastic response to that attitude."
Sarcasm is plentiful on last year's Putting the Days to Bed, but so are poignant turns of phrase and bittersweet melodies. "Honest", for instance, is a funny/sad mid-tempo number featuring pedal steel guitar and strongly worded advice from a mother to a daughter against falling in love with the singer of a rock 'n' roll band. "Clouds" is an autumnal, mostly acoustic heartbreaker. On the other hand, "(It's a) Departure" and the aforementioned "Rich Wife" are seething, crunchy rockers that promise even greater things from a Long Winters live set.
The third album from the band, Putting the Days to Bed sees yet another change in the lineup, of which Roderick and bassist Eric Corson have been the only constants. But the revolving roster has given the Long Winters' frontman the opportunity to exercise his wit in dryly humorous bios of the many musicians who have passed through the ranks. (Check out www.thelongwinters.com/bio/.) His way with words has brought Roderick some writing gigs as well, including assignments covering the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, first for Cmj.com and this year for MSNBC.
"I'm getting a lot of offers now to do stuff as a writer," he says. "It's easy to do while I'm on tour-I can always take 45 minutes and send off a quick dispatch. And covering a festival where I know a lot of the musicians adds an element of hilarity."
However, he isn't doing much blogging on the band's Web site, or even making sure that the band-membership info is being kept current. (Besides Corson, drummer Nabil Ayers is on the current tour, along with guitarist-keyboardist Jonathan Rothman.)
"Yeah, I've been remiss in that," he says. "We've had a little trouble keeping our Web site updated lately. None of us are really tech-savvy. Or we're tech-savvy, but in all the wrong ways. You can come backstage at a Long Winters show and see all four of us sitting with our laptops out. But who knows what anybody's doing."
The Long Winters play Richard's on Richards on Tuesday (March 13).