Any cool kid who doesn’t adjust his or her black-framed glasses in recognition of the name Modest Mouse just can’t claim to be an indie rocker.
From coffee shops to art houses to dollar-beer nights, scenesters have been shirking their usual hangouts nationwide to converge in venues where Modest Mouse plays when in town.
In 1992, lead guitarist/ vocalist Isaac Brock, guitarist Dann Gallucci, bassist John Wickhart and drummer Jeremiah Green gathered in “The Shed” and made music that fluctuated between fast, in-your-face jams and slow, depressing tunes.
“The Shed” was a practice area Brock built next to his mother’s trailer.
The group emerged from the outskirts of Seattle at a time when music needed a revival. Not since the days of The Pixies had such a twisted band played such important music.
The group’s first album, 1996’s This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, caught the attention of independent music fans across the country.
While the trio was happy on their independent record label, they couldn’t resist temptation when the recording industry big boys came calling.
Five full-lengths and numerous EPs later, the group signed with Epic Records.
Though Modest Mouse makes an effort to stay close to its independent roots, the breadth of opportunity became much larger after signing with Epic.
Die-hard fans criticized the trio last year when they sold Nissan the rights to use “Gravity Rides Everything” in a television commercial.
The group has never been on the mainstream radio circuit. Record stores aren’t loaded with Modest Mouse paraphernalia and the group isn’t likely to win a Grammy anytime soon.
However, the band has an enormous fanbase and an underground cult following to rival any other.
The original band has gone through several lineup changes in the past 12 years. Currently touring and working together are Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Benjamin Weikel.
The group’s style has been classified as art-punk, emo, indie rock and in various other genres, but the band members themselves have shied away from labels.
Long rhythmic guitar sequences, perplexing lyrics, sudden tempo switches and references to Christ are some common elements of MM’s music.
Some songs involve screaming, while others are delivered in a quiet, soft tone. Most of the group’s songs are a mixture of both.
Brock’s lyrics are fictional stories spiced-up with reality. Some of the lyrical characters and ideas are genuine, but many of them are also concocted from the vocalist’s imagination.
When not working on projects with MM, Brock resurfaces with another band named Ugly Cassanova.
According to him, a crazed fan once broke into the backstage area during a MM show and forced the trio to listen to some of his songs. Calling himself Ugly Cassanova, the man had scribbled barely legible lyrics on sheets of paper.
Brock enlisted the help of other musicians and turned the crazy man’s lyrics into songs.
Modest Mouse will stop in Tampa for two sold out shows to promote its upcoming album Good News for People Who Like Bad News, slated for an April 6 release.
The group will also issue a re-release of 2000’s The Moon and Antarctica in early March.
This special edition of the album will contain all of the original tracks and include four previously unreleased songs recorded in 1999.
Once a secret musical outlet for a select group of people, Modest Mouse is gaining popularity that continues to grow as more people tune into its one-of-a-kind sound.