Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Modest Mouse aren’t the same band they were ten, five or even two years ago. It’s a fact that every long-time fan needs to accept. After the runaway success of 2004’s platinum selling Good News For People Who Love Bad News, indie rock’s expert on trailer trash and talkin’ shit, Isaac Brock, embraced his new digs as a commercial artist and decided to make Modest Mouse everything they ever could be. In doing so, he managed to lure one of pop music’s greatest guitarists, Johnny Marr, into the band to capitalise on the unlimited potential this now six-piece band have to work with. Much like Good News, We Were Dead is very much the product of a major label: glinting production, spotless arrangements and melodies around every corner. Yet as marketable as that sounds, there’s plenty of contrast to balance it all out — the modern rock friendliness of "Florida” gels nicely beside "Steam Engenius,” which reveals that there’s still plenty of the band’s gritty Up Records past in them. Meanwhile, the string-loaded hoedown of "Parting of the Sensory” shows they’re also trying to broaden their scope with new diversions. Despite some overenthusiastic backing vocals and a distracting appearance by the Shins’ James Mercer, the only valid complaint is that Marr is actually hushed throughout the proceedings, which seems wasteful. We Were Dead is still a statement that proves Modest Mouse are progressing deeper into the mainstream without tarnishing their celebrated past. (Epic)

Johnny Marr joining the band was a real shocker. Were you at all surprised when he accepted?
Brock: I was the one who asked him, and I had hopes, but it wasn’t that shocking. We were looking for another guitarist and I thought I’d go for exactly what I wanted. It didn’t seem improbable or impossible to me. But I definitely was happy since it was kind of a shot in the dark.

Would you say having a platinum record under your belt has changed you?
Not really, but I think that’s an easier call from the outside looking at me than for me to tell. In general, I feel like I’m becoming a better person. Getting rid of a lot of those shitty habits I picked up over the years. Things are going good.

The Kidz Bop cover of "Float On”: yay or nay?
That was really funny, it made me happy. I didn’t know about it until I saw the commercial, and it was kind of a surreal thing. I was totally psyched on it. How could you not just be oddly pleased that your song got turned into a kid’s song? (Epic)