NW band, Modest Mouse, shares unique sound


Photo courtesy of James Joiner

Violinist, Lisa Molinaro, plays onstage for the band Modest Mouse.

Modest Mouse is an indie band from Olympia Washington, consisting of singer and guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Jeremiah Green. They were one of the original indie bands of the ‘90s. Isaac Brock’s vocals and the shifting guitar tone creates a unique sound and catchy melodies from abrasive and otherwise dissonant tones.

Modest Mouse has had a lot of influence in the industry as a whole. They were heavily inspired by The Pixies and The Smiths, and they blended that sound with a little grunge. However, it is difficult to make out any influence in their music, because their sound is so original. No one else shared a similar sound before they came along, due especially to Brock’s delivery style. After their success, however, many bands, like Cymbals Eat Guitars and Manchester Orchestra took influence from their music. 

Even modern underground rap is inspired by them. Lil Peep has rapped over Modest Mouse samples and ITSOKTOCRY has posted pictures of his Modest Mouse Vinyl collection.

The impact they have had on not just indie, but alternative music as a whole is obvious. However, aside from their small group of dedicated fans, most people today either don’t recognize them at all or have simply forgotten.


Times’ interview with Lisa Molinaro, backup vocalist and violinist of Modest Mouse


Q: First thing’s first, is there any significance to the mutilated rat pictures on the Modest Mouse Instagram? 

A: Isaac and I had a beautiful sweet cat named Norson.  He was a kind, loving, playful boy. He however had a penchant for hunting rats.  He would capture them and scientifically dismember them, leaving rat parts throughout the house.  Isaac photographed all the findings over the years with the intention of creating a coffee table book entitled “Accomplished.”  His idea was to show some of the photos on IG. It got repetitive by accident!


Q:What is the band’s opinion on the reception of Strangers To Ourselves? 

A: We don’t have one.  It’s our own work and we are not concerned with public opinion.  It’s like trying to have a look outside the fishbowl. We do what we do, we do out of labor and love.  

about doing it?

A: I attempt to represent what the band agrees works in the live setting.  So some female vocal parts are represented live, and some are not. I am pretty good at blending mimicry with my own timbre, all the while meeting Isaac’s vocals with a supporting role. 


Q: What is the songwriting process like with the band? 

A: It’s different, all of the time.  I can only speak from own experience.  The nuclei of some songs from “Strangers” were formed during band jams up in the MM attic, when everyone was just hanging out, playing, breaking, and playing again.  Stuff gets recorded while we do that so we can remember what happened if it “sticks”.Isaac will also partner with one other person at times, then bring more writers in to add color.  It’s definitely a cooperative process. Isaac had formed melodies and parts of lyrics, but words crystallized further along the recording process.


Q: Will Modest Mouse be releasing any new music soon? Some fans think Magic Mushroom Marmalade is the title of a new album, Is this true?  

A: We released some digital singles and a 7” so far in 2019.  Let’s see! We’ll keep you on your toes. The Marmalade reference was a joke that somehow caught on.  It’s not serious, but you never know…

Q: Do you cover the old backup vocalist’s portions, Nicole Johnson, live? How do you go 


Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring young artists trying to make it in music?

A: Don’t be afraid whatsoever to express what you feel coming out of you. That’s what makes beauty, art, music. Try not to close your mind to any style or method of artistic expression.  It all comes from the same source, eventually. And try something that intimidates you! You may be great at it. This band did not aspire for greatness; Modest Mouse was just being Modest Mouse.  So be true to yourself. That inner voice that nurtures and knows the truth is there; listen for it.