Indie rock band Modest Mouse is a band that likes to take its time. Having been together for 25 years, the group has only released six studio albums. They do seem to favor touring, though, and they will be back in Reno with a Sept. 19 show at the Grand Sierra Resort.
Modest Mouse is led by guitarist, singer and songwriter Isaac Brock. Apart from still-current drummer Jeremiah Green, the group has gone through a lot of personnel – 17 musicians total. The current group includes Brock, Green, multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, guitarist and keyboardist Jim Fairchild, bassist Russell Higbee, viola/keyboard player Lisa Molinaro and percussionist Ben Massarella.
Brock and Green began working together in 1992 while both were living in and around the Seattle area. It took two years of writing and shows before famed indie label K Records released the band’s first EP. The group’s move to Seattle label Up Records also led to its first national successes.
Modest Mouse’s first and second albums – “This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Talk About” in 1996 and “The Lonesome Crowded West” in 1997 – both earned the group a cult following and national critical acclaim. The group’s best known songs from this early era include “Dramamine,” “Cowboy Dan,” “Doin’ the Cockroach” and “Trailer Trash.”
Touring and acclaim led Modest Mouse to a major label record deal with Epic Records and a third album called “The Moon and Antarctica” in 2000. Over time, the record sold 500,000 copies despite very little radio airplay and the quirky sound of the group. The best-known songs on “Moon” include “Paper Thin Walls,” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “Perfect Disguise.”
The band’s big mainstream breakthrough was album No. 4, “Good News for People Who Love Bad News.” Released four years after “Moon,” the album sold 1.5 million copies and made it to the Billboard Top 10 album charts, while its first single, “Float On,” was a radio hit that still gets commercial airplay. “Ocean Breathes Salty” and “Bukowski” are also well-known songs on “Good News.”
It was another wait for the next Modest Mouse album, “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” which came out in 2007. The group, which had also moved to Portland, Oregon, had a temporary star guitarist in Johnny Marr, known for his work with pioneering indie band The Smiths. It became the group’s first and only No. 1 album and several songs became radio hits, including “Dashboard,” “Missed the Boat” and “We’ve Got Everything.”
Modest Mouse fans then had to wait another eight years until “Strangers to Ourselves” was released in 2015. It hit No. 3 on the Billboard charts and spawned several songs still popular onstage this year, including “Lampshades on Fire,” “The Ground Walks with Time in a Box” and “The Tortoise and the Tourist.” Brock told several music news outlets in 2016 that the band is working on a follow-up album.