Modest Mouse: Interview
Dead Animals in the Field
the song "Float On," the opening lyric is about backing into a parked cop car
that eventually just drives away. It's a nice metaphor for the rise of this
indie-alternative rock band from Washington enjoyed last year, the car being
popular culture and it driving away being that culture telling everyone about
this "new" band they just discovered.
Accidentally being famous can be trying for anyone (ask that Steve Bartman kid
from Chicago). But Modest Mouse has been able to float on with their new found
mainstream success, showing no indication that this will go to their head. In
fact, it's possible they are a little oblivious as to how popular they have
Bassist Eric Judy took time out to briefly chat about the rise of Modest Mouse
and about his favorite animal costume.
Your tour recently started. How has it been going?
It's been good. Last night was our first show and it was a bit rough. The
sound just wasn't right so we're gonna try to redeem ourselves with the next
show. We're having a long sound check today.
Congratulations on the two Grammy nominations. What were you doing when you
heard the news?
I don't really remember. I think I might just been home and our manager
Were you surprised at the nomination?
It's really exciting and a once in a lifetime experience. We don't have high
hopes in winning. I really don't expect to win at all. If for some weird reason
we were to win, we'll probably just walk up there and bumble around.
How did it feel last year going from a band few knew about to a band being
played on MTV almost every day?
I don't think any of us were expecting to have that sort of success.
Do you think the two singles were written for the radio or that people's taste
in music changed?
Mainstream music shifts over time. It seemed like last year was truly a year
for more indie rock type bands to have some success.
Does the success add pressure to a future album?
Not for me, though it might be different for the other guys. For me, I feel
the opposite. We've had one really commercially successful album. We can do
whatever the fuck we want. I can brag about that album for the rest of my life.
Has the band written anything new?
No. There were a few songs that were left unfinished that we started recording,
but we don't have any new songs. I think right now with any bit of practice
time, we're trying to bring back older songs. We won't start on new songs till
What old songs are you bringing back?
We just started playing "Dramamine" again and yester were going over "Tiny
Cities Made of Ashes." That one has been rearranged. It's going to be fun. There
are a few others too.
A lot of your songs have pretty ambiguous meanings. Do you ever get tired of
people hounding you about what they mean?
I don't. Issac gets that a lot, so I'm sure he gets tired of that. That's
his department. I kinda have my own little fun when I try to guess at what some
of them mean. But I never ask him. I like figuring out my own meanings.
When did you know you wanted to be in a band?
From the earliest I can remember, I just loved music. When I was a teenager,
I decided to buy a bass because I didn't know anyone else who played a bass. It
just seemed like a neat thing to do. Then I met Issac and Jeremy and that's the
first band I was in. And we're still a band.
What was your favorite Modest Mouse album and why?
The Lonesome Crowded West. That's recently come to me. I've been
listening to that over again over the last few months. I think that's a good
record. Sure it has certain memories with it, but after a certain time, you're
able to have an objective point of view. It's a really weird record and I'm glad
we made it.
How are you handling fame and signing autographs for people?
That's not a new thing with this record, just more of it. I don't freak out
anymore. I sign stuff for people all the time. I got used to doing it. At first
I would be "Man, that's really weird. Why would you want me to sign something
for you?" Now I think it's weird if I say no.
Where do the ideas for the music videos come from? Is it the band, is it the
With "Float On," I think that was the director's idea. With "Oceans," it was
a combination of Issac and the director. There was this theme of someone being
dragged around dead. Then it changed to dead animals in the field. I was a
squirrel with a broke arm. I was going to be a badger, but a squirrel was more
believable in terms of being nursed back to health.
Do you guys where those suits during the life show?
No we don't. Those suits were pretty neat though.
I also read you will be at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee this summer.
That's funny. It was one of those things where nobody knew about it. Someone
happened to see it listed and that's how we found out. It was a happy surprise.
I don't even know who else is going to be there.
Drive-by Truckers, Dave Mathews Band, and John Prine to mention a few.
John Prine? I like that guy. This is more exciting now.
One last question. Who would win in a fight? A modest mouse or a mighty mouse.
I just don't know. We have six people, so I would say us. Yea.
We were saying you too, but no one would know because you would be too modest.
Yea, that's right.