Issaquah, Wash.-based Modest Mouse are one of America's most promising
independent rock bands. The artsy punk trio received good reviews and college-radio
airplay with the late-1997 LP, The Lonesome Crowded West (Up Records), and
are reportedly close to signing with a major label.
The band was formed in 1993 by singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and
drummer Jeremiah Green, who was born 22 years ago today. The three Washingtonians
practiced their sound religiously in "the Shed," a makeshift jamming room built by Brock
on land next to his family's trailer.
The name Modest Mouse "doesn't mean anything, it doesn't really matter," Brock told the
Seattle Times. "I was reading a book and the author referred to working-class
people as 'modest mouse-like' people. That's where it came from ... "
In 1994, Modest Mouse recorded their eponymous debut single in Olympia, Wash., at
Calvin Johnson's Dub Narcotic Studios. Johnson issued the song on his K Records
label. The group's sound is rambling, avant-garde punk with contemplative, dark lyrics
about life and religion. Modest Mouse count among their influences Meat Puppets,
Pavement, the Pixies and Sunny Day Real Estate, among others. Their music is
distinguished by Brock's crazed, loud warbling.
Modest Mouse signed with Up Records and released two albums in 1996: This Is a
Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About (including such standout tracks
as "Beachside Property" and "Desert/Tundra"); and the Interstate 8 EP. The latter
featured the danceable college-radio hit, "All Night Diner." The EP also included "Live in
Sunburst Montana," a few tracks recorded live in "the Shed."
Following Interstate 8, Modest Mouse toured the U.S. and played the CMJ Music
Festival in New York. The band then issued the single, "A Life of Arctic Sounds," which
included a temporary member, Dann Gallucci, who went on to join the Murder City
The Fruit That Ate Itself followed a year later, with such songs as "Karma's
Payment" and "Dirty Fingernails."
Last year, The Lonesome Crowded West increased the buzz surrounding Modest
Mouse, especially on the college music scene. The album drew attention with such
songs as "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine," " Heart Cooks Brain"
(RealAudio excerpt), "Convenient Parking" and "Jesus Christ Was An Only Child."
"I don't see why all of these people like us," Green told the Seattle Times. "Isn't
that weird? We're not like a standard rock band, y'know. It's pretty cool and really strange
at the same time."
Modest Mouse are touring the East Coast this month and will play Washington state gigs
Other birthdays: Eric Allen Dale (Foundations), 63; Chris Squire (Yes), 51; Shakin'
Stevens, 51; Chris Rea, 48; Boon Gould (Level 42), 44; Jason Newsted (Metallica), 36;
Paul Bostaph (Slayer), 34; Patrick Hannan (Sundays), 33; Grand Puba Maxwell (Brand
Nubian, Grand Puba), 33; Evan Dando (Lemonheads), 32; and Fergal Lawler