John Roderick's blog

The Dark Side

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I had dinner with Alan Parsons the other night. That's right, Alan Parsons, of the Alan Parsons Project. I'm not kidding. You may know him better as the man who recorded Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, or perhaps as the tape operator for a little album called Abbey Road. Anyway, he gave a talk at the EMP, (along with Bob Ezrin, who recorded The Wall), and afterward he joined a small group of us for dinner.

Lunar Eclipses

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I was holed up in my little home studio last Thursday working on writing some songs for the next Long Winters record when I got a text message from a friend telling me to check out the lunar eclipse. There's a window over the desk where I work, so I parted the curtains and there was the eclipse right above me, the moon a burnt red. Fortunately, I had my dad's old Navy binoculars right to hand, so I spent several minutes inspecting the lunar surface.

Gibson Custom Shop Tour 2007

I was down in Nashville a couple of weeks ago and was lucky enough to get a tour of the Custom Shop from the world-famous Steve Christmas. I'm no expert on guitar-making, but I was surprised by the things I learned on my trip.

Spain is Pretty Great

We crossed into Spain through Andorra, the tiny country high up in the Pyrenees mountains. At the top of the pass our little van chugged to a crawl- pissing off a few Porsche drivers- high enough to look down on the French ski resorts to our north. Barcelona was our first stop, an unseasonably warm February day.

God, Spain is wonderful for a rock band. Every night the fans came out in droves. Madrid was a madhouse, made all the crazier by the Real Madrid/Bayern Munchen football game happening in the stadium a few blocks from the club. You've never known fear until you've been surrounded by German soccer fans all dressed like the Cat in the Hat

American Werewolves in Wolverhampton

2/17/07

We're four hairy Americans in a van with German license plates, so I suppose that could account in part for the crude reception from other drivers on the English roads. I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the truth of the matter is that drivers in the UK are among the rudest and most incompetent in the western world. They are like petulant children, always flashing their lights and trying to cut you off. I've taken to driving extra crazy, with a mix of the worst habits of LA, NYC, and rural Michigan, just to exact a little revenge. After all, they'll blame it on the Germans.

From France to the UK

We woke up in Diksmiude, Belgium and drove through the early morning mist toward the port of Calais. These were the Flanders fields made infamous in World War One, but we had more mundane concerns. Our work permits for the UK weren't sorted properly and I knew it going in. There was every possibility we'd be detained for hours, maybe even denied entry, and we were anxious.

Putting the Days to Bed Released!

Our brand new record, Putting the Days to Bed, has officially been released! All throughout the land church bells are pealing and caped riders are galloping to spread the joyous news, and lo, I am emailing you, in case you were in the shower when the church bells were pealing and caped riders were galloping.

Bonnaroo 2006: Day Four

The amazing thing is that even after Radiohead’s impossible-to-follow performance, the Bonnaroo party soldiered on. I found my way back to the hospitality tent and managed to scrounge up a couple of pork chops and a piece of carrot cake for dinner, and sat down with my new friend Elizabeth, who’d been taking pictures all weekend on behalf of the festival. She was heading back to work, photographing the SuperJam, which started at midnight in one of the far-flung tents. SuperJam sounded ominously like the seventh level of jam-band hell, something that might go on forever once the cosmic forces that contained it were unleashed, so in the spirit of my journalistic enterprise I promised to stop by later, and she trudged off like she’d been sentenced to a slow death being stung by wasps.

Bonnaroo 2006: Day Three

I sleep in vans a lot. On tour you can’t help it, but sleeping fitfully in a rental mini-van for three hours is no way for a journalist to live and I vowed that next time I’d make sure to get a hotel. The premise of this festival is that the whole 90,000-odd attendees come for the entire weekend to the remote backwater of Manchester, TN. and camp, Burning Man style, making puppet art, fire-dancing, and waiting for twenty minutes in line for the Porta-potty.. It was suggested to me that I might enjoy the bonhomie of camping myself, as it would give me a window into the heart of the festival, but in retrospect I’d much rather be wearing a three-piece, white linen suit and sitting in a hotel bar somewhere. As it is, the Kentucky sunshine heated my van to a turkey roasting 400 degrees by nine o’clock in the morning. I downed a cup of water, washed the sleep from my eyes and headed off to the first press conference of the day, where the singer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth, was giving a private, acoustic performance just for the press.

Bonnaroo 2006: Day Two

I took my mandate as Bonnaroo Festival correspondent for CMJ very seriously. My first order of business upon waking, before even breakfast coffee, was to try and secure myself better credentials. Festivals like Bonnaroo have about twenty-five different levels of backstage pass, which allow access to twenty-five increasingly small and restricted areas. I had backstage passes to a U2 concert once, and it was only when I got backstage that I realized my passes only allowed me to stand in a back hallway under a nearby highway, a quarter of a mile from anywhere Bono was likely to set his drink. CMJ secured me press/photo credentials, which weren’t so hot, but since I was barely a journalist and definitely not a photographer of any kind, I felt hardly constrained by them. There are all kinds of places that a festival like this doesn’t want the press and/or photographers to go, but those are PRECISELY the areas that I, in the service of CMJ, most want to be.

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