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Modest Mouse were one of the most surprising commercial success stories of the new millennium -- while their music was by turns taut and elliptical, and the lyrics sometimes cryptic and introspective, the band broke through to the mainstream audience with the platinum-selling Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and they became genuine rock stars at a time when their musical peers remained cult figures. Modest Mouse was founded in 1993 by guitarist and vocalist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy, and drummer Jeremiah Green. Brock, who had a nomadic childhood, was only 18 and living in a shed next to his mother's trailer home when Modest Mouse began working together, with the shed becoming the new band's rehearsal space and base of operations. In 1994, Modest Mouse booked time at Calvin Johnson's Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington to cut their first record, and Johnson released their debut 7", "Blue Cadet-3, Do You Connect?," on his K Records label. Modest Mouse soon began work on an album, but the project was abandoned and the material went unreleased until 2001, when it appeared on a collection called Sad Sappy Sucker.
After releasing a handful of singles, Modest Mouse went into the studio with Johnson as producer to record an EP, The Fruit That Ate Itself, but by the time it was released, the group had already moved on to another Northwest-based indie label, Up Records. 1996's This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, produced in collaboration with Steve Wold (who would find fame a few years later as grizzled blues hobo Seasick Steve), was Modest Mouse's first proper album, and received enthusiastic reviews in the independent music press. In 1997, Modest Mouse returned with The Lonesome Crowded West, which earned more positive press and was a considerable sales success by indie label standards, supported by extensive touring. As Modest Mouse's following grew, they were courted by major-label scouts, and they eventually signed with Epic Records, who released The Moon & Antarctica in 2000. A collection of demos and session outtakes, Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks, was issued in 2001, and Brock released an album with his side project Ugly Casanova in 2002. In 2003, it was announced that drummer Green had left Modest Mouse; Benjamin Weikel of the Helio Sequence became the group's new percussionist (he also doubled on keyboards), and Dann Gallucci, who had been a guest guitarist on the sessions for Sad Sappy Sucker and The Lonesome Crowded West, became an official member of the band.
The new lineup recorded 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, which proved to be Modest Mouse's commercial breakthrough, rising to the top of the album charts, spawning the hit singles "Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty," and selling over a million copies as the band began headlining arenas. By the end of 2004, Green returned to Modest Mouse, and in 2006, after Gallucci left the group, the band recruited Johnny Marr, legendary guitarist with the Smiths, to take his place for the recording of their next album. Marr not only appeared on 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, he became a full member of Modest Mouse and toured with the group in support of the album, which debuted at number one on the Billboard album charts. In 2005, Brock had launched his own record label, Glacial Pace Records, saying the name reflected his own slow working habits; while Modest Mouse continued to play live shows, work on their next album progressed very gradually, and in 2009 they issued a collection of outtakes and non-LP single sides, No One's First, And You're Next, as a stopgap. A tour was launched in support, but as Marr had joined the Cribs, Jim Fairchild (who had worked with Grandaddy and All Smiles) became the group's new guitarist, and when Modest Mouse played a round of shows in 2012, the group debuted a new lineup with the addition of second percussionist Joe Plummer. While Eric Judy was still an official member of the band, for some 2012 dates he was replaced by multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, who had been touring with the group as a sideman since 2004.
Modest Mouse is an American indie rock band formed in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington, by singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. 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 February 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."Goldsher, Alan. Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
ContentsHistory1.1 Formation and early years: 1994–19991.2 Critical success: 2000–20021.3 Mainstream success and line-up changes: 2003–20091.4 Touring and re-releases: 2010–20141.5 Strangers to Ourselves: 2015–present
Formation and early years: 1994–1999
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, 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, was critically well-received including a 9.8 out of 10 score from online music magazine, Pitchfork Media, despite people's worries about being on a major label. It has subsequently gone on to receive further acclaim. 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 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."
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 and line-up changes: 2003–2009
In March 2003, Green left the band after suffering a nervous breakdown; 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 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 its 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). 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. 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. Modest Mouse's next album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, was released on March 20, 2007 after being delayed from December 19, 2006. It 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. Modest Mouse finished its 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, 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.
Touring and re-releases: 2010–2014
In 2010 The Moon & Antarctica was re-released on vinyl as part of Record Store Day.
On July 4, 2010 the band headlined the second day of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, and the first day of the End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, England, on September 10, 2010. 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. 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." 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, The Warfield in San Francisco on January 25, 2012.
In June 2012, Pitchfork.tv released a 45-minute documentary on The Lonesome Crowded West. The documentary included archival footage taken during live performances and original recording/mix sessions.
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. 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 in 2014 took place in Austin, Texas during Austin's annual Fun Fun Fun Fest.
In the Fall of 2014 Modest Mouse re-released their first two albums - "The Lonesome Crowded West" and "This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About" on CD and Vinyl.
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, and two days later, Modest Mouse released the lead single "Lampshades on Fire" from its upcoming sixth album confirmed to be released in early 2015. 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. It was said by Brock 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.Epitonic.com: Your Source for Cutting-Edge Music Edoardo Bridda (2015-03-01). "Modest Mouse biography" (in Italian). sentireascoltare.com. "Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica (2000): Reviews". Metacritic.com. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2011-07-15. "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica". Pitchforkmedia.com. 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2010-09-08. "Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004". Listology. Retrieved 2011-07-15. Modell, Josh (April 7, 2004). "Modest Mouse". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2015. Scanlon, Tom (April 13, 2007), "Modest Mouse band of mellow mice", The Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-10-11 SNL Archives – Episode.. Retrieved June 12, 2007. Music – Modest Mouse. Retrieved November 6, 2008. NME news article, NME.com, retrieved May 8, 2008 "Modest Mouse Confirm EP Details". idiomag. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-24. "Heath Ledger Directed a Modest Mouse Video". Pitchfork Media. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-13. "The Moon & Antarctica To Be Reissued on Vinyl For 10th Anniversary | Modest Mouse". Modestmousemusic.com. Retrieved 2010-09-08. May 03, 2010 (2010-05-03). "Modest Mouse Headlining 80/35 Festival". Glide Magazine. Retrieved 2015-02-04. "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. "Twitter / Big Boi of OUTKAST: Been camped out in the Lab". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2011-07-15. "Modest Mouse Debut Tunes At Sasquatch!". Stereogum. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-16. rebecca on (2011-07-26). "OFFICIAL WEBSITE » Modest Mouse at Splendor in the Grass". Modest Mouse. Retrieved 2012-04-02. "Pitchfork.tv Presents Documentary on Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West". Pitchforkmedia. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-19. "About the festival". Good Vibes Festival. "Modest Mouse to Follow Strangers to Ourselves With New Album "As Quickly As It's Legally Allowed"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-03-16.