Mouse in the house


POSTED: Friday, September 04, 2009

For all practical purposes, Isaac Brock IS Modest Mouse.

Even when a sideman as high-profile as former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr leaves the band (he's now a member of the English foursome the Cribs), Brock and his remaining band mates carry on, playing bitter but catchy songs for MM's eager fans.

The band will make its Hawaii debut next week at Pipeline Cafe.

Speaking by phone from his home in Washington state, Brock said recently that “;the door is still open”; for Marr to rejoin Modest Mouse, but in the meantime Jim Fairchild, of the late and lamented band Grandaddy, is filling in.

Bassist Eric Judy, drummer Jeremiah Green, multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso and keyboard player-percussionist Joe Plummer round out the group.





        with local opening band Girlfriends

» Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.


» When: 8 p.m. Wednesday


» Cost: $32 general and $60 VIP, all ages, available at the Pipeline Cafe box office, all Blue Hawaii Surf stores and military ticket outlets


» Info: (877) 714-7668 or




It's been a month since the animated video for “;King Rat”; was released. This nautical, anti-whaling minidrama was originally directed by Heath Ledger, then finished, with Brock's approval, by The Masses, an Australian film and music company that Ledger was a partner in before his death. (Proceeds from iTunes video downloads during its first month of release will benefit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.)

“;King Rat”; is one of several tracks on Modest Mouse's latest release, an extended-play recording titled “;No One's First, and You're Next.”; That and “;I've Got It All (Most)”; are new tracks; other songs were previously released as limited-edition 7-inch vinyl singles.

Most of the songs were leftovers from recording sessions for “;We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank”; and the “;Good News for People Who Love Bad News”; projects that broadened Modest Mouse's indie fan base, beginning in 2004.

“;I thought those songs were a bit soggy, but they were songs that I knew I wanted to finish up,”; Brock said. “;Something like 'Perpetual Motion Machine,' which was once a track I did for my side project Ugly Casanova, was something I sat on until it was finished with a horn track done by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.”;




        Modest Mouse



As for his inspired and howling vocals on “;King Rat,”; Brock said, “;The second half of that song turns into chaos. I had the lyrics in mind before we recorded, but I had thrown those out during the performance. Looking back, it's like 'What was I thinking about?' It was definitely an oxygen-free procedure.

“;But it's not unusual for that to happen. I wouldn't want our sound to be too stiff. If the music being played changes a little, I'll just go with whatever feels natural at the time.”;

BROCK CAN sound a bit cantankerous when dealing with life trivialities, if his lyrics are any proof, but when it comes to the music, “;I'm just trying to keep true to exactly what I want. I keep a realistic view of what I'm doing, and everyone else can be damned.”;

There seems to be no problem with anyone being “;damned.”; Starting with Modest Mouse's 1997 indie-label breakout “;The Lonesome Crowded West,”; the band has put out some memorable songs, like their big '04 hit “;Float On,”; followed by “;Ocean Breathes Sally,”; “;Dashboard,”; “;Missed the Boat”; and “;We've Got Everything.”;

“;It wasn't my intention with our records to make a lot of people happy. It's been a mixed bag of reaction. There are still some people who are lividly pissed for us not making another 'Lonesome.'

“;In the end I have a better grasp of what works for me musically while other people are either trying to inflate or deflate my ego. If you pay attention to all that, you get real messed up, so it's not worth caring about overall.”;