Modest Mouse

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Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse UPT.jpg
Modest Mouse playing a set on April 30, 2007 at the United Palace Theater in New York.
Background information
Origin Issaquah, Washington, United States
Genres Indie rock, indie folk
Years active 1993–present
Labels Epic, Up, K, Matador, Glacial
Associated acts Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Seasick Steve, Ugly Casanova, The Smiths, Wings Denied, The Cribs, The Murder City Devils, The Flaming Lips, The Shins, Built to Spill, Grandaddy, The Helio Sequence, Zeus Jimenez, Big Boi, Mister Heavenly, Satisfact, Red Stars Theory, Cold War Kids
Members Isaac Brock
Jeremiah Green
Tom Peloso
Past members Eric Judy
Robin Peringer
John Wickhart
Dann Gallucci
Benjamin Weikel
Johnny Marr
Joe Plummer

Modest Mouse is an American indie rock[1] band formed in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington, by singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Since their 1996 debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, their lineup has centered on Brock, Green, and Judy. Guitarist Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) joined the band in May 2006, along with percussionist Joe Plummer (formerly of The Black Heart Procession) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, to work on the album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in February 2009. Their name is derived from a passage from the Virginia Woolf story "The Mark on the Wall" which reads, "I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."[2]


Earliest years: 1992-93[edit]

Band members worked or hung out at Roy Matthew's (GULLIVERS HAMBURGERS) restaurant in Issaquah Wa mostly skateboarding behind the restaurant. Eric judy worked as a char-broiler cook for Matthew's. Eric judy recorded a basement tape of industrial goth music with various members of what was to become Modest Mouse. That tape was either lost or perhaps is in Eric's possession. A reel to reel tape session was recorded in the kitchen of the Gullivers restaurant after business hours. This recording featured some members of Modest Mouse and Nick Reynolds, Who would go on to be a radio station DJ on local northwest FM rock stations. The stand out song was "I look to the sky" This rare recording may still be in Reynolds possession or possibly lost to time. The owner of the local radio-shack offered to record the band on recording studio gear he had acquired through RADIO-SHACK stores. A tape was made at that time however it is unaccounted for. Joe Whitney an employe of Gullivers restaurants and friend of Judy’s, jammed with various members of the band in this time frame. This timeline predates any official releases of recorded material that utilized the name Modest Mouse.

Formation and early years: 1994–99[edit]

In 1994, Modest Mouse recorded their first EP, Blue Cadet-3, Do You Connect?, at Calvin Johnson's Dub Narcotic Studios. It was released by K Records. A single, "Broke", followed under Sub Pop that was recorded by Steve Wold (a.k.a. bluesman Seasick Steve) at Moon Studios in Olympia, Washington. During this time, Modest Mouse also recorded what would have been their first album, Sad Sappy Sucker, but constant delays caused the album to be shelved and forgotten. It was not until 2001 that it was officially released. Before making their way into the pop music world in 2004, many of their tours included stops at DIY/punk venues.

After moving to Up Records,[3] Modest Mouse released two full-length albums and other recordings recorded at Moon Studios, including the 1996 LP This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. This album was produced and recorded by Steve Wold (at the time Wold was assisting in the recordings as well, but was not officially part of the band). The next offering was Interstate 8, also produced by Wold. The 1997 album, The Lonesome Crowded West, (also recorded at Moon Studios, by Scott Swayze) turned out to serve as the band's breakthrough. The Lonesome Crowded West gained the band a cult following, and is now popularly considered to be one of the defining albums of mid-1990s indie rock. During this time Nick Kraft was brought in to refine the band's sound. Prior to its release, the band had recorded the EP The Fruit That Ate Itself. In 1999, Up Records released a singles and rarities collection entitled Building Nothing Out of Something, which included the entirety of Interstate 8 except for the songs "Edit the Sad Parts" and "Buttons to Push the Buttons".

Critical success: 2000–02[edit]

In 2000, Modest Mouse released The Moon & Antarctica, their first album on Epic Records. The album was critically well-received[4] including a 9.8 out of 10 score from online music magazine, Pitchfork Media.[5] It has subsequently gone on to receive further acclaim.[6] Brock has since released an album with his side project Ugly Casanova on Sub Pop, which was the only side project allowed due to the contract. The band licensed "Gravity Rides Everything" for a commercial for Nissan's Quest minivan, a move that Brock has publicly acknowledged as blatantly commercial but necessary to achieve financial stability. Regarding the commercial, Brock stated, "People who don't play music for a living can criticize my morals while they live off their parents' money or wash dishes for some asshole."[7]

In 2001, Modest Mouse released the EP Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks, a collection of unused songs from the recording sessions of The Moon and Antarctica. In 2002, they joined Cake, De La Soul, The Flaming Lips, The Hackensaw Boys and Kinky on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour.

Mainstream success and line-up changes: 2003–09[edit]

In March 2003, Green left the band after suffering a nervous breakdown;[8] the official word was that he was leaving to work with his side project, Vells. The same year, he and bass guitarist Eric Judy appeared on Adam Forkner's first solo album, VVRSSNN. Green was replaced by two new members, drummer Benjamin Weikel (who also drummed for The Helio Sequence, as well as playing keyboard) and Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci (who had been a member of Modest Mouse previously, and appears on Sad Sappy Sucker and The Lonesome Crowded West). On April 6, 2004, Modest Mouse released their fourth album, the platinum-selling Good News for People Who Love Bad News, which had two hits with "Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty" (both of which they performed on Saturday Night Live on November 13, 2004[9]). The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Rock Album that year. Later that year, Green returned to the band, and Weikel returned to drumming exclusively for The Helio Sequence. Gallucci left the band in August.

The public radio program Marketplace used "Float On" as bumper music and helped propel the group to a broader audience.

In May 2006, Dann Gallucci (who had left the band amicably in September 2004) was replaced on guitar by Johnny Marr, former guitarist for The Smiths. Their next album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, was released on March 20, 2007[10] after being delayed from December 19, 2006. It was the first Modest Mouse album to reach number one on the US Billboard 200 charts, and had the hit single "Dashboard", as well as "Missed the Boat" and "We've Got Everything". Modest Mouse released singles for the songs "Satellite Skin", "Autumn Beds" and "Perpetual Motion Machine" in limited editions (a run of 4,000 each) vinyl 7 inches, featuring artwork by art director and illustrator Joshua Marc Levy, J.Alex Stamos, and Natasha Wheat.

The band began a North American tour in June 2008. They returned to Florida for the first time since their November 2006 Bang Music Festival show, where they were cut off stage early, with three shows in Miami, Orlando and St. Augustine.[11] Modest Mouse finished their tour supporting We Were Dead after two years of promoting the record.

Jim Fairchild of Grandaddy and All Smiles replaced Marr as guitarist, when Marr left the band after joining The Cribs, beginning with the support of No One's First and You're Next, which was released on August 4, 2009,[12] composed of unreleased tracks from the recording sessions of Good News for People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.[13]

Recent years: 2010–present[edit]

In 2010 The Moon & Antarctica was re-released on vinyl as part of Record Store Day.[14]

On July 4, 2010 the band headlined the second day of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa,[15] and the first day of the End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, England, on September 10, 2010.[16] At the end of August 2010, Modest Mouse played on the main stage at the Leeds and Reading festivals.

On April 28, 2011, Big Boi said via Twitter that he had been in the studio with Modest Mouse working with them on their next LP.[17] On May 29 Modest Mouse played two new songs during their headline of the Sasquatch festival. The songs were called "Poison the Well" and "Lampshades on Fire."[18] They then contributed a cover of the Buddy Holly song "That'll Be The Day" to the compilation Rave On Buddy Holly, which was released on June 28, 2011. Recently Modest Mouse had played at Splendour in the Grass in Woodford, Queensland on July 29, 2011,[19] The Warfield in San Francisco on January 25, 2012.

According to e-mails sent from Glacial Pace which responded to fans confused about the large gaps between albums, Modest Mouse is indeed currently writing and recording material and have been for quite some time. But despite this, the e-mail also reminds fans of the fact that Brock naming his record label "Glacial Pace" was not an accident. Thus, it remains unclear when Modest Mouse will release their next album.

In June 2012, released a forty-five minute documentary on The Lonesome Crowded West. The documentary included archival footage taken during live performances and original recording/mix sessions.[20]

Modest Mouse was one of the main acts in the Good Vibes Festival held in Sepang, Malaysia on August 17, 2013. The lineup featured other internationally renowned bands such as Smashing Pumpkins, Ash, and Japandroids.[21]

In April 2013, Modest Mouse performed at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. They also performed at the 2014 Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in May 2014. They later performed as a headliner at Shaky Knees music festival in Atlanta, Georgia on May 10, 2014, and also headlined Sunday May 25 at Boston Calling in Massachusetts.

Modest Mouse then performed at Hudson Valley Music Project in Saugerties, NY in July, 2014.


  • Isaac Brock – lead vocals, guitars, banjo, ukulele, keyboards (1993–present)
  • Jeremiah Green – drums, percussion (1993–2003, 2004–present)
  • Tom Peloso – guitars, upright bass, keyboards, fiddle, horns (2004–present)
Touring members



  1. ^ "Modest Mouse for Open House". Clash. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Goldsher, Alan. Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  3. ^ Your Source for Cutting-Edge Music[dead link]
  4. ^ "Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica (2000): Reviews". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  5. ^ "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica". 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  6. ^ "Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004". Listology. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  7. ^ Modell, Josh. "Modest Mouse". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  8. ^ Scanlon, Tom (April 13, 2007), Modest Mouse band of mellow mice, The Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-10-11 
  9. ^ SNL Archives – Episode.. Retrieved June 12, 2007.
  10. ^ Music – Modest Mouse. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  11. ^ NME news article,, retrieved May 8, 2008
  12. ^ "Modest Mouse Confirm EP Details". idiomag. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  13. ^ "Heath Ledger Directed a Modest Mouse Video". Pitchfork Media. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  14. ^ "The Moon & Antarctica To Be Reissued on Vinyl For 10th Anniversary | Modest Mouse". Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  15. ^ May 03, 2010 (2010-05-03). "Modest Mouse Headlining 80/35 Festival". Glide Magazine. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  16. ^ "Modest Mouse announced as Friday headliner + 5 more bands « End of the Road Festival 10th, 11th, 12th September 2010". Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  17. ^ "Twitter / Big Boi of OUTKAST: Been camped out in the Lab". Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  18. ^ "Modest Mouse Debut Tunes At Sasquatch!". Stereogum. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  19. ^ Posted by rebecca on (2011-07-26). "OFFICIAL WEBSITE » Modest Mouse at Splendor in the Grass". Modest Mouse. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  20. ^ " Presents Documentary on Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West". Pitchforkmedia. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  21. ^ "About the festival". Good Vibes Festival. 
  22. ^ "Johnny Marr Talks About the Cribs and Modest Mouse, Not About the Smiths". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 

External links[edit]