Modest Mouse's Jeremiah Green

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

Devils.

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

in April.

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

(Cranberries), 28.