Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse playing a set on April 30, 2007 at the United Palace Theater in New York City.
Background information
Origin Issaquah, Washington, United States
Genres Indie rock, alternative rock
Years active 1992–present
Labels Epic, Up, K, Matador, Glacial
Associated acts Big Boi, Brand New, Built to Spill, Cake, Califone, The Catheters, Cold War Kids, The Cribs, De La Soul, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, The Hackensaw Boys, The Helio Sequence, Kinky, Love as Laughter, Mister Heavenly, The Murder City Devils, Red Red Meat, Red Stars Theory, Satisfact, Seasick Steve, The Shins, Talkdemonic, Ugly Casanova, Vells, Zeus Jimenez, 764-Hero, World Gang
Members Isaac Brock
Jeremiah Green
Tom Peloso
Jim Fairchild
Russell Higbee
Lisa Molinaro
Davey Brozowski
Ben Massarella
Past members Eric Judy
Joe Plummer
Johnny Marr
Dann Gallucci
Benjamin Weikel
Robin Peringer
John Wickhart

Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington (a suburb of Seattle) and currently based in Portland, Oregon. The founding members of this group are lead singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Strongly influenced by groups such as Pavement, the 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 the band's 1996 debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, the group's lineup has centered on Brock and Green. 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. Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in 2009. The band's sixth album, Strangers to Ourselves, was released on March 17, 2015.

The band's 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]


Formation and early years: 1992–1999

It was during his teenage years that Brock, who at the time was employed at the local family video store just outside Seattle, met bassist Eric Judy. Brock and Judy later ran into drummer Jeremiah Green,[3] who also resided near Seattle, at a heavy metal show and decided to make music together. In 1994, Modest Mouse recorded its 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 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 making their 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,[4] 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 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

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 critically acclaimed,[6] which included a 9.8 out of 10 score from online music magazine, Pitchfork Media, despite people's concerns about releasing material on a major label.[7] It has subsequently gone on to receive further acclaim.[8] Brock released an album with his side project Ugly Casanova on Sub Pop, which was the only side project allowed due to contractual agreements. Their debut album, Sharpen Your Teeth, was released in 2002.[9]

The band licensed "Gravity Rides Everything" for a Nissan 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 have to make their living playing music can bitch about my principles while they spend their parents' money or wash dishes for some asshole."[10]

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.

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

In March 2003, Green left the band after suffering a nervous breakdown;[11] the official word was that 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. Green was replaced by drummer Benjamin Weikel, 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. This loss conjured a spectrum of emotion - hate, agony, shock - that was clearly evident in the band’s fourth album. Good News for People Who Love Bad News, which was released on April 6, 2004 and became certified Platinum the following August,[3] had two hits with "Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty" (both of which they performed on Saturday Night Live on November 13, 2004).[12] 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 and 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's next album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, was released on March 20, 2007[13] after being delayed from December 19, 2006. The band’s fifth album also included bonus track and single "King Rat", which had caught the eye of a well-known actor before the track was even released; Brock was formally introduced to "The Dark Knight" star, Heath Ledger, while on their 2007 Australia tour. Ledger proposed an outline for a music video to the group, and immediately began working on it once he had the band’s approval. The video remained unfinished on account of Ledger's death in January 2008.[14]"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 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 the November 2006 Bang Music Festival show, where they were cut off stage early, with three shows in Miami, Orlando and St. Augustine.[15] 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 guitarist indefinitely 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,[16] 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.[17]

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

In 2010, The Moon & Antarctica was re-released on vinyl as part of Record Store Day.[18]

On July 4, 2010 the band headlined the second day of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa,[19] and the first day of the End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, England, on September 10, 2010.[20] 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 announced via Twitter that he had been in the studio with Modest Mouse working with them on their next album.[21] 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."[22] 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,[23] 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, who were replaced by Russell Higbee and Davey Brozowski, respectively. The lineup also included the additions of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Lisa Molinaro, and percussionist Ben Massarella, the latter of whom had previously played percussion on "The Moon & Antarctica".

In June of that same year, released a 45-minute documentary on The Lonesome Crowded West. The documentary included archival footage taken during live performances and original recording/mix sessions.[24]

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.[25] 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: 2015–present

Eight years after the release of We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Modest Mouse released Strangers to Ourselves on Tuesday, 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. Brock stated that the follow up to Strangers to Ourselves was currently in the making. It was said to be like a part two to Strangers to Ourselves and the release date is currently unknown, but Brock said they will try to release it as soon as legally possible.[26]


Current members
Former members
Former touring members


Studio albums


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  2. Goldsher, Alan. Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  3. 1 2 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 .
  4. Epitonic the center of sound
  5. Bridda, Edoardo (2015-03-01). "Modest Mouse biography" (in Italian).
  6. "Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica (2000): Reviews". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  7. "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica". 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  8. "Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004". Listology. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  9. Larkin, Colin (ed.). "Ugly Casanova". Oxford Music Online (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  10. Modell, Josh (April 7, 2004). "Modest Mouse". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  11. Scanlon, Tom (April 13, 2007), "Modest Mouse band of mellow mice", The Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-10-11
  12. SNL Archives
  13. Music – Modest Mouse. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  14. Ganz, Caryn. "Rock & Roll: Music Video: Inside Heath Ledger's Modest Mouse Video." Rolling Stone Sep 03 2009: 22. ProQuest. Web. 21 July 2015 .
  15. NME news article,, retrieved May 8, 2008
  16. "Modest Mouse Confirm EP Details". idiomag. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  17. "Heath Ledger Directed a Modest Mouse Video". Pitchfork Media. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  18. "The Moon & Antarctica To Be Reissued on Vinyl For 10th Anniversary | Modest Mouse". Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  19. "Modest Mouse Headlining 80/35 Festival". Glide Magazine. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  20. "Modest Mouse announced as Friday headliner + 5 more bands « End of the Road Festival 10th, 11th, 12th September 2010". Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  21. "Twitter / Big Boi of OUTKAST: Been camped out in the Lab". Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  22. "Modest Mouse Debut Tunes At Sasquatch!". Stereogum. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  23. "Several Acts Ruled Out For Splendour In The Grass 2015". MusicFeeds. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  24. " Presents Documentary on Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West". Pitchforkmedia. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  25. "Good Vibes Festival". Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  26. "Modest Mouse to Follow Strangers to Ourselves With New Album "As Quickly As It's Legally Allowed"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-03-16.

See also

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