Modest Mouse

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Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse performing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in August 2021
Modest Mouse performing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in August 2021
Background information
OriginIssaquah, Washington, U.S.
Genres
Years active1992–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitewww.modestmouse.com
MembersIsaac Brock
Jeremiah Green
Tom Peloso
Russell Higbee
Ben Massarella
Simon O'Connor
Past membersEric Judy
Joe Plummer
Johnny Marr
Dann Gallucci
Benjamin Weikel
Jim Fairchild
Lisa Molinaro
Davey Brozowski
John Wickhart

Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington, and currently based in Portland, Oregon. The founding members are lead singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Strongly influenced by Pavement, Pixies, XTC, and Talking Heads, the band rehearsed, rearranged, and recorded demos for almost two years before finally signing with small-town indie label K Records and releasing numerous singles.[1]

Since their 1996 debut This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, the band's lineup has mostly centered on Brock and Green, undergoing multiple changes. The band achieved mainstream success with their fourth album Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004) and its singles "Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty". Judy performed on every Modest Mouse album until his departure in 2012. Guitarist Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths) joined the band in 2006, shortly following 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 (2007). Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in 2009. The band's sixth album Strangers to Ourselves was released on March 17, 2015. Their seventh album, The Golden Casket, released on June 25, 2021.

History[edit]

Formation and early years: 1992–1999[edit]

When Isaac Brock was a teenager, he was employed at a local family video store just outside Seattle. This is where he met bassist Eric Judy. Brock and Judy later discovered drummer Jeremiah Green,[2] who also resided near Seattle, at a heavy metal show, at which point they decided to make music together. In 1994, at Calvin Johnson's Dub Narcotic Studios, Modest Mouse recorded its first EP, Blue Cadet-3, Do You Connect?, which was released by K Records. This was followed by a single, "Broke", recorded by Steve Wold (a.k.a. bluesman Seasick Steve) under Sub Pop records at Moon Studios in Olympia, Washington. During this time, Modest Mouse also recorded what would have been its 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 the band made its way into the pop music world in 2004, many of Modest Mouse's tours included stops at DIY/punk venues.

After moving to Up Records,[3] Modest Mouse released two full-length albums and other recordings including the 1996 LP This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. Steve Wold also recorded and produced this album (and at the time was assisting in the recordings as well, but was not officially part of the band) along with the next offering, Interstate 8. The 1997 album, The Lonesome Crowded West (also recorded at Moon Studios, by Scott Swayze) served 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.[4] During this time, Nick Kraft became involved with the task of refining 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 that included the entirety of Interstate 8 except for the songs "Edit the Sad Parts" and "Buttons to Push the Buttons".

Critical success: 2000–2002[edit]

In 2000, Modest Mouse released The Moon & Antarctica, its first album on Epic Records. The album, produced by Califone's Brian Deck during five months of sessions in Chicago,[5] was met with critical acclaim,[6] including a 9.8/10 score from online music magazine Pitchfork Media, despite concerns about releasing material on a major label.[7] The album would later receive further acclaim.[8]

The band licensed "Gravity Rides Everything" for a Nissan Quest minivan advertisement, 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 have to make their living playing music can bitch about my principles while they spend their parents' money or wash dishes for some asshole."[9]

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, the band joined Cake, De La Soul, the Flaming Lips, the Hackensaw Boys and Kinky on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour.[10]

Mainstream success, Johnny Marr joins the band: 2003–2009[edit]

Shows members of Modest Mouse performing in concert
Modest Mouse performing live in 2007

In March 2003, Green left the band after suffering a nervous breakdown;[11] official reports stated he was leaving to work with his side project, Vells. The same year, he and Judy appeared on Adam Forkner's first solo album, VVRSSNN. Drummer Benjamin Weikel joined the band, replacing Green, along with Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci, who had previously played with Modest Mouse. Prior to starting the band's writing and recording process, Brock was devastated by the loss of "a couple of the most important people in my life," he said.[12] Following these events, the band released their fourth album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, on April 6, 2004. The following August, the album was certified Platinum,[2] having two hits with "Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty" (both of which they performed on Saturday Night Live on November 13, 2004).[13] The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album that year, and "Float On" was nominated for Best Rock Song. Later that year, Green returned to the band and Weikel returned to drumming exclusively for the Helio Sequence.

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

In 2006, Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) joined the band after Gallucci quit amicably. Modest Mouse released their next album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, on March 20, 2007[14] after its original release date of December 19, 2006 was delayed. The album also included bonus track and single "King Rat", which actor Heath Ledger had known about before the track was released; the band was formally introduced to the actor while on their 2007 tour in Australia. Ledger proposed an outline for a music video to the group, and with his film collective, The Masses, immediately began working on it once he had the band's approval.[15] Upon Ledger's death in January 2008, the video remained unfinished.[16] We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank was the first Modest Mouse album to reach No. 1 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 edition—a total of 4,000 copies 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, with three shows in Miami, Orlando and St. Augustine, for the first time since they were cut off stage early during the November 2006 Bang Music Festival show.[17] Modest Mouse finished its tour supporting We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank after two years of promoting the record.

Jim Fairchild replaced Marr as official guitarist after the latter left the band and joined The Cribs, beginning with the tour of No One's First and You're Next, which was released on August 4, 2009,[18] 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.[19]

Touring, lineup changes, and re-releases: 2010–2014[edit]

In 2010, The Moon & Antarctica was re-released on vinyl as part of Record Store Day.[20]

On July 4, 2010 the band headlined the second day of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa,[21] and the first day of the End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, England, on September 10, 2010.[22] At the end of August 2010, Modest Mouse played on the main stage at the Leeds and Reading festivals.

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".[23] 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. Modest Mouse played at Splendour in the Grass in Woodford, Queensland on July 29, 2011,[24] and at The Warfield in San Francisco on January 25, 2012.

In 2012, Modest Mouse underwent a significant lineup change, which included the departure of founding bassist Eric Judy and percussionist Joe Plummer, replaced by Russell Higbee (formerly of Man Man) and Berlin, NH-born Davey Brozowski, respectively. The lineup also included the additions of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Lisa Molinaro, and percussionist Ben Massarella, the latter of whom previously played percussion on The Moon & Antarctica.

In June of that same year, Pitchfork.tv released a 45-minute documentary on The Lonesome Crowded West, which included archival footage taken during live performances and original recording/mix sessions.[25]

Modest Mouse played a Saturday afternoon set at the inaugural Firefly Music Festival in July 2012. 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.[26] 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. The band's final performance of 2014 took place in Inglewood, California during the annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas.

In the fall of 2014 Modest Mouse re-released their first two albums, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About and The Lonesome Crowded West, on CD and vinyl through Isaac Brock's Glacial Pace record label.

Strangers to Ourselves & The Golden Casket: 2015–present[edit]

Eight years after the release of We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Modest Mouse released Strangers to Ourselves on March 17, 2015. On December 13, 2014, the title and release date were confirmed to be in early 2015. Two days later, Modest Mouse released the lead single "Lampshades on Fire" which debuted on Twin Cities public radio station 89.3 The Current. On December 16, 2014, Modest Mouse made Strangers to Ourselves available for pre-order for CD and LP formats on the Glacial Pace website and on the iTunes store.

In 2015, Brock described the follow-up album to Strangers to Ourselves as being like a part two to the latter album that they would try to release as soon as legally possible.[27] The follow up album has also been said to feature at least one song with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.[28] Throughout 2019, the band released three standalone singles; "Poison the Well" on March 29, "I'm Still Here" on April 18, and "Ice Cream Party" on November 15.

Modest Mouse released their seventh studio album, The Golden Casket, on June 25, 2021.[29] The album's first single, "We Are Between", was released on May 5,[29] followed by its second single, “Leave a Light On”, released on May 24. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, music critic Mark Richardson gave a mixed review of the album.[30] Richardson described the tracks on the first half of the album as "sound[ing] like busy arrangements in search of a song," and noted that "Mr. Brock’s ear for hooks just barely rescues the tracks from the seriously overstuffed production."[30] Richardson noted that the back half of the album contained the biggest highlights, which he described as "quite good." Richardson was particularly fond of the album's stripped-down finale, "Back to the Middle," which he noted "hints at what should be [the band's] next change-up: Keep it simple. If the songs are strong and the performances are there, guitar, bass and drums will be more than enough.[30]

Members[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Carpenter, Susan. "THE ARTS; POP MUSIC; from Modest Beginnings ...; nearly 15 Years from its Seattle Grunge Origins, Modest Mouse's Career has Taken a Mighty Turn". Los Angeles TimesMar 18 2004. ProQuest. Web. 20 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Modest Mouse" [bio]. Epitonic. epitonic.com. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  4. ^ McMurray, Jacob, ed. (2011). Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind: a Visual History from the Permanent Collection of Experience Music Project. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 9781606994337. OCLC 1065713061.
  5. ^ Bridda, Edoardo (2015-03-01). "Modest Mouse biography" (in Italian). sentireascoltare.com.
  6. ^ "Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica (2000): Reviews". Metacritic.com. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  7. ^ "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica". Pitchforkmedia.com. 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  8. ^ "Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004". Listology. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  9. ^ Modell, Josh (April 7, 2004). "Modest Mouse". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Unlimited Sunshine Tour". Variety.com. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  11. ^ Scanlon, Tom (April 13, 2007), "Modest Mouse band of mellow mice", The Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-10-11
  12. ^ "From Modest beginnings ..." Los Angeles Times. 2004-03-18. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  13. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes". Snl.jt.org. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  14. ^ Music – Modest Mouse Archived 2007-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  15. ^ LISI, BRIAN (2016-04-04). "Heath Ledger's sister says it took blessing from Michelle Williams to get new documentary made". NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.
  16. ^ Ganz, Caryn. "Rock & Roll: Music Video: Inside Heath Ledger's Modest Mouse Video". Rolling Stone Sep 3 2009: 22. ProQuest. Web. 21 July 2015.
  17. ^ NME news article, NME.com, retrieved May 8, 2008
  18. ^ "Modest Mouse Confirm EP Details". idiomag. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  19. ^ "Heath Ledger Directed a Modest Mouse Video". Pitchfork Media. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  20. ^ "The Moon & Antarctica To Be Reissued on Vinyl For 10th Anniversary | Modest Mouse". Modestmousemusic.com. Archived from the original on 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  21. ^ "Modest Mouse Headlining 80/35 Festival". Glide Magazine. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  22. ^ "Modest Mouse announced as Friday headliner + 5 more bands « End of the Road Festival 10th, 11th, 12th September 2010". Endoftheroadfestival.com. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  23. ^ "Modest Mouse Debut Tunes At Sasquatch!". Stereogum. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  24. ^ "Several Acts Ruled Out For Splendour In The Grass 2015". MusicFeeds. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  25. ^ "Pitchfork.tv Presents Documentary on Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West". Pitchforkmedia. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  26. ^ "Good Vibes Festival". Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  27. ^ "Modest Mouse to Follow Strangers to Ourselves With New Album "As Quickly As It's Legally Allowed"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
  28. ^ "Modest Mouse's next album, due out in 2016, features Nirvana's Krist Novoselic". Consequenceofsound.net. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  29. ^ a b Kreps, Daniel (5 May 2021). "Modest Mouse Announce New Album 'The Golden Casket,' Drop 'We Are Between'". Rolling Stone.
  30. ^ a b c Richardson, Mark. "'The Golden Casket' by Modest Mouse Review: Float On Past the Noise". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]