In 2001 Harvey Danger singer/songwriter Sean Nelson suggested that he and Roderick record an album -- half of the songs penned by John, and the other half by Sean. Death Cab for Cutie band member Chris Walla had recently opened up the Hall of Justice studio in Seattle and agreed to help them record. John recruited Joe Bass of Sky Cries Mary and Brian Young of Fountains of Wayne to flesh out several of the songs, and gradually the album evolved to feature only John's songs. After several months, The Worst You Can Do Is Harm was finished.
John traveled to New York, where he played solo shows and quickly began to pen new songs -- several of which would eventually be included on The Long Winters' second album, When I Pretend to Fall.
While there he was contacted by Barsuk Records -- the label that would release The Worst You Can Do Is Harm – who made it clear they wanted John to tour to promote the release. He traveled back to Seattle and was joined by Chris Caniglia, former Western State Hurricanes drummer Michael Shilling and Eric Corson on bass. Thus, The Long Winters were born.
The original trio responsible for The Worst You Can Do Is Harm (John Roderick, Sean Nelson, and Chris Walla) is often considered the original incarnation of the band. John and Sean, along with recruits Eric Corson and Michael Shilling (the drummer in Roderick's previous band, the Western State Hurricanes) are the core players behind When I Pretend to Fall, with Sean having replaced Chris Caniglia as the band's keyboardist. When I Pretend to Fall was released and John, Sean, Eric and Michael embarked on an ambitious series of tours throughout 2003 in support of the album. The band toured North America with Barsuk Records labelmates Nada Surf and Death Cab for Cutie, and later spent November touring Europe. Michael Shilling eventually quit in December 2003, burned out by the hectic touring and lifestyle of the band.
This extensive spring/summer 2004 tour took its toll on drummer Michael Schorr, who left the band shortly after its completion. John continued to do small promotional events and shows throughout the latter half of 2004 and 2005, often previewing a handful of new Long Winters songs.
The next incarnation of The Long Winters featured John Roderick on vocals, guitars, and keyboard, Eric Corson on bass and back-up vocals, and Nabil Ayers on drums. The band did a tour supporting Keane in October 2005 in support of an EP released on October 11th, 2005, titled Ultimatum. John Roderick did a solo mini tour through Europe in May 2006 to promote awareness for the third full-length LP, Putting the Days to Bed, which was released on July 25, 2006. In the fall of 2006 the band, now with guitarist/keyboard player Jonathan Rothman replacing Mike Squires, toured the USA, after which they joined Keane once again for a European tour. Listed among the hardest touring bands in music, The Long Winters began 2007 with yet another European tour, followed by a month of shows in the USA and Canada.
In July 2008 the band went back into the studio to work on their fourth (yet untitled) album.