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coverpic flag US - Washington - Full Moon 46 - 07/16/00

Modest Mouse
E-mail interview

Once Upon a Time in the Northwest

The Moon And Antartica is the name of Modest Mouse's third album to date and the follow up to the highly acclaimed The Lonesome Crowded West. That's just a fact. But actually it's much more than that, because this new album is, is one word, staggering. It has been called "monumental, groundbreaking, hypnotic and sublime" in the American press already and all of that's true. It's all you could hope to get from this northwestern three piece and then some. Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green and Eric Judy from Seattle made the album everybody was hoping they would made at some point - and they did it sooner than most people expected. The Moon And Antarctica is a lot more than just distored bass and edgy guitars, at times it sounds even folky, but not in the Bob-Dylan-sense of the word, but in a new and exciting experimental kind of way. And at least to your correspondents' ears it sounds a lot like Built To Spill, too. Anyways, the release of the album - on respected indie Matador in Europe and (for the first time) on major label Sony Music in the States - was more than a nice excuse for us at the Luna Kafe to do an e-mail interview with Eric and Isaac when they visited England for a one-off show at The Garage in North London in early July.

Lu.Ka.: To start out with a rather general question - where are you right now and what are the vibes like?
Eric: We are at the offices of Matador right now, kind of tired, a little hung over, but its pretty pleasant nevertheless.

Lu.Ka.: How does it feel to be in Modest Mouse in the summer of the year 2000?
Eric: We've been really busy this summer, touring mostly. It feels good staying busy though.

Lu.Ka.: Listening to the new album I was very pleasantly surprised by the fact that half of the songs don't sound a bit like what I would have expected. How important are the elements of change and surprise to you?
Isaac: The need for change isn't important to me, it's just unavoidable. Time and the changes that happen to every one in their lives are bound to change the sounds/songs that we make. Besides the people at the label told us that we had to make a different sounding record or they'd beat us, naturally we didn't want a beating so ? It's also really exciting when you're making a record or playing live to just roll with things without thinking about what you're doing and watch it unfold behind you. you can really shock yourself sometimes.

Lu.Ka.: Did the change in sound happen naturally / by chance, or was there a bigger masterplan behind it?
Isaac: I know there was a master plan but I'm not sure exactly what it was. It was sort of an overall feeling that I wanted to get across.

Lu.Ka.: When it comes to making up the songs, do you just jam or do you sit down and talk about what you want to achieve with a song or album and how to get there?
Isaac: A lot of the time I write the basic bare bones part of the song, that is the lyrics with a guitar part. And then we start playing it together and end up going off on tangents that make up other parts of the song. Sometimes we just make up the whole song together while we're just screwing around.

Lu.Ka.: Do these changes in sound refelct what you've been listening to lately? Who would you consider primary influences?
Eric: Yes, its hard to avoid having that happening, Big Bird and Shamoo.

Lu.Ka.: Is there a line you never could imagine to cross?
Isaac: YES, I don't think I could fit an entire watermelon up my ass.

Lu.Ka.: The album also reminds me quite a bit of Built To Spill. Even more so that your previous albums. Has touring /playing with Doug and his band been an influence? (Even though I'm sure last year's european tour wasn't the first time you've played with him)?
Eric: Well we all like Built To Spill im sure, but I don't see the comparison myself.

Lu.Ka.: Talking of touring Europe. I believe last year's summer tour with BTS was your first tour over here. How did you like it and was it any different to, say, touring the States? (you seem to get great reactions from the european crowds?!)
Eric: It was a bit more uncomfortable and humbling.

Lu.Ka.: I noticed that on the Matador release it says licensed from Sony Music/Up Records? Maybe it's just me who hasn't paid attention, but does this imply that your new album is on Sony and Up on CD and vinyl respectively.
Eric: Sony released the vinyl and the CD, up released the EP Night on the Sun which coincides with the album.

Lu.Ka.: Did the big success of the last album have an impact on the new one? Did you feel more pressure this time around because you had to follow up a successful album?
Isaac: The bigger pressure came from not wanting to be one of those bands that went to a major label and started putting out shitty records, besides this is what we love to do why wouldn't we want to do the best record we felt we could.

Lu.Ka.: What are your plans for the immediate future (a tour of Europe maybe?)?
Eric: A tour of the States in September and a tour of Europe sometime after that, and maybe Japan eventually. And some other holiday travels and some rest.

Lu.Ka.: Last question: I want you to make a list of five underrated records...
Eric: 1. Eggstone's Spanish Slalom, 2. Flake Music's When You Land Here, It's Time To Return, 3. Tyrannosaurus Rex' Unicorn, 4. Pale Saints' In the Comfort of Madness, and 5. Club 8's The Friend I once had.
Isaac: 1.Red Red Meat's Bunny gets paid, 2. Caustic Resin's Fly me to the Moon, 3. Flake Music's Flake Music, 4. Can's Ege Bamyasi, and 5. I'm drawing a blank.

Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Modest Mouse article/review: Good News For People Who Love Bad News.

© 2011 Luna Kafé