Seattle Rock Vet John Roderick Hangs Up His Guitar for the Political Trail

Rasmus Rasmussen
John Roderick at his campaign kickoff party on April 29, 2015.

Leader of The Long Winters and a Death Cab for Cutie collaborator, John Roderick, 46, is hanging up his guitar to run for city council on a platform of putting the arts first.

Music trained me for the job 
"Politics is similar to when you're a young band and execs say you need to stand next to a brick wall, smoke and look apathetic in photos. Great bands insist on being themselves, and the industry changes around them. Politics is the same way: Candidates conform, but I won't. I couldn't run that way. Being a musician also means I'm up late cruising around Seattle, and that's how I got a deeper sense of how a city operates -- that's when we replenish supermarkets, move shipping containers."

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I'll bring more music to Seattle 
"When I started playing in '93, the local government was hostile to live music, making all-ages shows and posting fliers illegal. It took 20 years, but the government came around to understanding that music is a big part of Seattle. But no one on the council has an arts background, so they weigh it against budget. Me being on city council means there's an advocate on the inside. Music in schools is just as important as math -- it's a core value and shouldn't be a line item on a budget."

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It's in my blood 
"My dad, uncle and great uncle worked as politicians, so as a kid, I understood government as a way you give back. Generation X and beyond have felt government is a corrupt world where older people make the wrong decisions. Now it's time to usher in our values: inclusiveness, technology being used to spread prosperity. It's time for the prior generation to go into retirement, and for the next generation to start devoting ourselves to public service."

This story originally appeared in the May 16 issue of Billboard