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"I really started making stuff in earnest," he says, "when I realized two things: No one else was going to do it the way I imagined, and if I didn't make something of myself, I was going to live my whole life disappointed."

The hot Winters

The Long Winters welcome spring with a spate of New York gigs

NY Daily News, 30 March 2007, by Gene Santoro;    » read online

The Long Winters' catchy alternative rock and wry, smart lyrics have people comparing them to Steely Dan and R.E.M. And no wonder. Like Michael Stipe, the Winters' singer-songwriter-guitarist, 38-year-old John Roderick, offers brainy outsider takes on everything from bittersweet relationships to the music biz.

He even has a wry take on his fans: "Most mainstream concerts are aerobics classes for preteen hookers," he says. "Our stage show is more like the Comparative Literature faculty of the Experimental College being subjected to low-intensity electric shocks while 400 people shout out requests."

You can see for yourself at the band's four-night stint, which starts tonight at Maxwell's, moves to Mercury Lounge on Saturday and Sunday, and finally winds up Monday at Union Hall.

In all these shows, the indie Seattle-based outfit will offer irony, angst and guitar hooks in songs like "Teaspoon" and "Rich Wife." They're from the Winters' new CD, their hardest-rocking work to date, "Putting the Days to Bed."

The Long Winters is Roderick's brainchild. Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, he played air guitar to Judas Priest songs while dreaming of writing a newspaper column. Music won out.

"Imagine my disappointment when I bought a cheapo guitar and realized it was really hard to play," Roderick says. "But I learned the great secret of every songwriter, which is that you don't have to be good at the guitar if you can sing."

At 17, Roderick hitchhiked around the U.S., then went to Europe, where he walked from Amsterdam to Istanbul.

"What makes anyone want to walk across Europe?" he asks. "It's a completely bananas thing to do. But coming from Alaska, I have the advantage of not being able to distinguish things that are perfectly reasonable from things that are totally insane."

After studying at the University of Washington and floating through a few indie bands, Roderick launched the first edition of his ever-changing Long Winters. (Only he and bassist Eric Corson are constants.) Word of mouth rippled from coast to coast on the indie scene after 2002's "The Worst You Can Do Is Harm" and 2003's "When I Pretend to Fall."

"I really started making stuff in earnest," he says, "when I realized two things: No one else was going to do it the way I imagined, and if I didn't make something of myself, I was going to live my whole life disappointed."


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