Monday, May 07, 2007

"Quit frowning."

Several weeks ago, I caught the band The Long Winters at the Mercury Lounge here in New York. They were very good, and their leader, John Roderick, was part emotive singer and part aspiring stand-up comic. You know the type, and it can be a painful type to experience, but he was very funny.

I just got done reading an interview with Roderick from two years ago in The Believer. I strongly wish this interview was available online in its entirety, because it's highly entertaining and you are missing out. My pity for you inspires me to post the following excerpts:
JR: Through some bizarre evolution of rock and roll, the audiences now are like stuffed shirts. I despise when people turn into that. So my knives are out all the time, in the hopes that one in twenty people I meet is going to show some kind of life. Indie-rock culture is the real ghetto of people who have convinced themselves that they're too sensitive to be yelled at or to yell, and they cry real tears when they see a flower lose its petals.

BLVR: When it's genuine, though, it's different.

JR: But those people belong in institutions. They should be in a really soft antiallergenic bed, and have people bring them tea that isn't brewed too strong. But with the vast majority of people who put it on as a pose, I just want them to see what they're missing. Life is better with a little conflict. People need to pose, I understand that. But I much prefer the pose of a Brooklyn tough guy, or an Asian break-dancer, which at least has the appearance of a full breadth of emotion. I mean, this isn't an original observation. I'm not doing anything novel or brilliant by addressing the crowd directly, by asking things like, "Is my hair OK?" Or pointing out individuals and saying: "You, with the white belt. Quit frowning."


JR: A huge indie-rock hit is a record that sells fifty thousand copies, which is about the size of the Nation of Islam. Even if you're making records that really connect with an audience, it's still a very, very small audience of people.

BLVR: What have you called it before? The indie-rock mafia?

JR: Yeah, and it's a cultural subset that's smaller than the audience for televised curling. Indie rock's gaining, though.


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