Modest Mouse Biography

Review The Artist (25)

Modest Mouse-photo

A Story by James Stockstill

One evening at Denver’s Bluebird Theater, where Modest Mouse was playing on a bill with fellow Northwesterners Built to Spill, Graham broke a second-floor window and stole into the backstage area. As Modest Mouse came off stage, he was excitedly waiting for them, blood streaming from cuts on his arms and face that he’d received from stray shards of glass. Chanting “This’ll do it” under his breath, Graham introduced himself to the source of his enlightenment.

Here again the facts become obscured. While each band member remembers Graham saying “This’ll do it” repeatedly, they disagree on how he referred to him-self. According to Brock, he introduced himself as “Ugly Casanova.” Green remembers Graham saying “I’m Isaac,” and Judy remembers “I’m Ed.” Perhaps the only deciding factor would have been tour companion Chris Majerus, who had run off to get towels and bandages for Graham’s wounds.

Though Graham was obviously unbalanced—or because of the fact—Brock, Judy and Majerus all took an immediate liking to him. In an enchanted tribute to Graham, Modest Mouse began to use Ugly Casanova as their publishing name. The three even persuaded a few labels to release limited-edition 7-inch singles of the songs Graham had sent them. But after briefly visiting each label in the summer of ’98 to deliver his efforts, he disappeared and has not been seen since.

A year later, in the summer of 1999, the labels received belated thank-you notes from Edgar Graham in enve-lopes that had neither postmarks nor return addresses. At the same time, Isaac Brock received a sheaf of letters which profiled the running mental state of Graham/Casanova. Like the others, these letters had no indica-tion of when they had been written or delivered, except one which had been dated a week earlier. The first fifteen pages were filled with nonsensical rants indicating that Graham had lost all touch with reality. The remaining 13 pages contained 13 songs about Graham’s life and his barren home, his hopes and his delu-sions.

The lyrics and music were practically illegible, but over the next few weeks Modest Mouse tried to make sense of them. Starting from Graham’s scratchy messages, the band began to assemble their new album. Due to that illegibility, the resulting collection of songs have become more a illustration of Modest Mouse’s own musical and lyrical style than of Ugly Casanova’s submissions. But the spirit of the album is believed to be that which Graham/Casanova had meant to convey. The Moon and Antarctica is the name of the album.

Themes of lost identity, spiritual betrayal, social and mental isolation, occasional self-loathing and ques-tions to the origin, nature and intent of fate abound—as do the figurative portrayals of Graham’s own past. The opening track, “Dark Center of the Universe,” is an introduction to the frustration and social isolation felt by a man whose potential search for his own soul resulted in the adoption of all the facets of another’s life. Consequently, the song stands as a realization of the fragility and futility of his situation. Yet the album does not simply dwell on a feeling of isolation, but reveals---just as did Edgar Graham’s letters—the path and progress of his various transformations.

“The Cold Part” is the point of origin, the departure from a frigid physical surrounding and the hope for a change from all which fate has dwelt. “3rd Planet” traces the evolution of loss, as paranoia encroaches upon Graham’s psyche and a distorted vision of creation ends up as a lack of self-identity. While a sense of self-loathing is evident in the only set of lyrics Modest Mouse were able to recover (“I Came as a Rat”), Graham most often expressed a carefree nature in the face of obvious adversity. Always present behind “Paper Thin Walls,” it was this side of him that Modest Mouse first saw in Denver, and the one by which he will hopefully be remembered.

With Edgar Graham’s disappearance came feelings of personal betrayal on the part of one whose emergence had raised so many questions and concerns. Thus ended a melancholy existence, one ultimately led under the title of a “Perfect Disguise.”

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Just another sad sappy sucker | Reviewer: Holland | 8/23/14

Modest Mouse has been my favorite band ever since I can remember. My mom used to have the album The Moon and Antarctica and we'd listen to it constantly. That album was the music that played in the background of my entire childhood and I feel like it's why I am the way I am. When I was a kid I never really understood the lyrics but I loved the music anyway. But now I'm older and I understand everything. It's like every year the lyrics become more and more meaningful to me. I can relate to it all. I will always be a fan of modest mouse. always. they're so positively negative about everything and that's what I love about it. I have never felt this passionate about a band and I don't think I ever will. Modest mouse will forever be a part of me.

Simply Love | Reviewer: Bre | 11/2/11

the first time i heard modest mouse was on a broken ipod i could not see the anything but the first song i heard was float on and the world at large i feel in love with them right away the lyrics really moved me when i finally figured out there name thats all i listened to and is what i llisten to mostly right now Issacs voice is so beautiful and i love how he uses it I love the many diffenent instruments in there music and the irony and great metaphors they are truely amazing

Yes. | Reviewer: Kady Ruane | 1/25/11

Modest Mouse is definitely my favorite band. I'm pretty sure I share the same brain as Isaac Brock. He has portrayed through his lyrics any emotion I have felt that I couldn't put into words. I love the stories they tell and the almost off-beat sound they have. Every album is fantastic and they're amazing live. All I can say is that I'm SO thankful that they're real.

mmwow | Reviewer: will | 1/11/11

i felt odd about putting writing this b/c no word could ever explian how i feel about this band and isaac brock.i listen to modest mouse and only m.m. for a really long time and i cant stop i mean i listen to nothing else.i dont want to be alone down there i guess so i take isaac everywhere i go i think people think im crazy

modest mouse simple truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! | Reviewer: rafael | 8/23/09

a band that brings different array of ingredients to the table, an acquired taste, beautiful lyrics.
all in all the music conveys the invisible obvious truth of being in this world, and being itself (throughout the tracks). many are'nt aware that what modest mouse emphasizes throughout their discography is "enlightenment". teachings that go 1000's of years before this band, to be here. teachings that show us how to see the reality of life (being) for yourself, not for us to hear truth and just accept it as in many teachings. the truth that speaks to being and not mind; you are what you and all have been searching, and who you think you are is not who you really are; most are just something they made up. you are no-"thing", but that which is essence to everything. essence; you. us humans have lost our ways, we were at a place were we were always contempt and blissful, now were just empty. always searching for the next "fix". looking out side when the source is within us. and the path is a long road, thats promising but troublesome for the "one" that we think we are. enough, you might think im preaching, but al in all a landmark of a band... Modest Mouse everyone, A band to stay in our hearts, a band whose patched and unpatched beats will spread through the media to the ears of many, to hearts of many, but unfortunately with lyrics which many cant see nor hear wholeheartedly trough. encore modest mouse, to life.

Simply the best | Reviewer: ARJuma | 6/20/09

Modest Mouse is easily my favourite band yet I still can't quite find the words to describe them. They're definitely an acquired taste that's for sure and the more you listen to them, the better they get. Isaac writes some of the deepest lyrics but you sometimes get the sense that he's just jokin around and I love that about his lyrics. I love how their albums have had like specific themes lately (Good news for people who love bad news had alot about death and We were dead before the ship even sank mentioned the ocean and ships in like every song) whereas some other artists' albums it sounds like they can't even agree on what genre they wanna sing (see Black Eyes Peas's E.N.D...crappy stuff. Nowhere near as good as some of their old stuff). I love modest mouse and always will.

Indescribable | Reviewer: Chris | 12/22/08

Modest Mouse... Oh man... This band has crept into my mind and heart ever so slowly since I first heard The Moon and Antarctica and they continue to climb, in fact they may be my favorite band now. The lyrical content, musical composition, and overall package they create is incredible. As past reviewer have said, they truly have a knack for creating songs that you can relate to in relation to your current life. Every album is quality, every song special, they truly are the definition of living and breathing rock and roll. If you have never tried them, or have only briefly forayed into their songs, do yourself a favor and dive right in.

your songs tought me alot about life thanks | Reviewer: Cid | 11/18/08

even know i am a fan i don't consider my self as a fan becuese there are others out there that are more then fans but there your family even knoe they not. i bought all your CDs and went to all the concerts and you make me smill every time i listen to music. your songs tought me alot,they cept me form suicidle thoughts and i thank you for that. on april 13 2009 will be my birthday, I Will be 17 and im glad to live this long. if it wasn't for your music i'd be dead thanks again.

Music Listener | Reviewer: Shore | 11/9/08

Growing up with different kinds and styles and trends i've been learning music it is endless and that's why i always keep an ear out, commercial shit sucks and Modest Mouse is a group that has proved that they will never sell out and They are a NO WORDS CAN EXPLAIN GROUP. I am thankfull that i heard them or else my life would be a lot different, i Thank GOD for Modest Mouse!

my opinion | Reviewer: Laura | 7/5/08

I think that modest mouse is a really great band.
I would have never heard them if it wasn't for my brother, he stole all my CD's and my ipod had broken. So the only CD i had was 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News" without a radio, ipod or other CDs it's all i listend to for about 3 monthes. In the beginning, it was just noise. But it grew on me so incredibly much. And the lyrics inspired me so much too. You don't quite understand the song untill you really listen, you peice it together.
I have tremdous respect for this band. The members are all wonderful artists. I'm sure each equally.
And thank you to them, in a lot of slightly random ways, many songs helped me though an akward stage of depression.

Modest Mouse Rocks!!! | Reviewer: Guess Who? "Two Sisters" | 4/15/08

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that you guys ROCK!!! My sister and I are be seeing you in Chicago with REM. We like REM, but we love you guys. If you weren't opening, we wouldn't of bought the tickets. I can't wait til June 6, 2008.

The Power of Modest Mouse | Reviewer: Ric | 7/27/07

Modest Mouse is truly an absolute amazing band. Isaac is the greatest lyricist I have ever heard. Their music has the ability to just take you away and leave you with a whole new perspective on all aspects of life. Isaac, Eric, and Jeremiah are wonderful artists and every song is a masterpiece.

Dear Rambo | Reviewer: James Ellis | 7/22/07

This is what you said.

"Sometimes they get a bit too artsy and their "music" becomes noise, they need to know when to draw the line."

Bravo Rambo. You are a fucking idiot.
1. If you are trying to imply that modest mouse is noise music then you need to do us all a favor and learn what noise music is. Modest Mouse clearly is not.
2. Noise -n.- a sound of any kind..hhmmm..
3. Where do you fucking think music came from? It is a fucking art. Oh yes and wouldent vivid, artistic, music be a bit more interesting? you hear the sound "noise" and it creates an even more extravagant picture. Unless like many people you have a shut mind, and the beauty of this music does not even appeal to you because you are to fucking stupid to even think about what the band is actually creating. trust me..there is a line.
4. Take out the cd...if you even own any of their work. Go to your closest music store, look under fifty cent. You got what you need.

MOMO rocks | Reviewer: Heather | 7/20/07

I love modest mouse. They have been my favorite band since I was ten. I am now 18 and love them even more, I have been to their concerts, but I wish they would have another for Moon and Antarctica.
That would be awesome! Perfect music no song that I do not like.

Universal | Reviewer: samson | 7/15/07

The other day, all baked out, we were listening to modest mouse, and my friend was complaining about how isaac just writes about his own life and i got real indignant and started raving about how isaac brock is the spokesman for all of humanity. Looking back on my speech, I feel that i was dead on. Modest Mouse captures ideas an themes that everyone has felt at somepoint and that everyone can relate to, but not in a safe, lets-please-everyone way. They write truly sad and lonely songs which are at the same time absolutely beautiful both lyrically and musically. And thats the thing about MM, theyre completely paradoxical, in a logical manner, ya dig? The best, most genuine, most intelligent band ever.

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