Three questions for Isaac Brock

The Modest Mouse frontman explains why the music press sucks.

Topics:

For a man who doesn’t like too much attention, Isaac Brock has done a pretty bad job of keeping a low profile. There’s his band, Modest Mouse, who just released “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” a follow-up to their biggest-selling album yet, 2004′s “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” — their first album to crack the Billboard top 20. Then there’s the fact that one of rock music’s most highly esteemed musicians, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, joined Modest Mouse as a full-fledged member late last year. On the eve of the new album’s release, Brock took part in what he deemed a “necessary evil” and spoke to Salon on the phone from Portland, Ore.

– David Marchese

In interviews and articles, you almost always come off as slightly unhinged or tortured.

Because it’s easy for the press. It doesn’t matter that I don’t do drugs anymore; a lot of times people are going to want to talk about that. Four out of six people in the band don’t drink. It’s fucking lazy, man. It’s, “I can go strip-mine these other articles,” and make an event that’s not real. A lot of shit that gets focused on is in my past. I don’t feel unhinged; I feel pretty fucking focused.

You Might Also Like

The music press has gotten so much bigger in the last decade. Has that been good for the relationship between musicians and their audience?

It’s funny that you say that. I was just thinking about something like that. The thing that sparked it was I was sitting somewhere and there was a TV going. On one of them was Paul McCartney after he’d been accused of trying to stab his ex-wife with a wine glass and he was doing this live show where he was really trying to be the buddy to the audience, really giving the high fives and making himself accessible. He was in a T-shirt like, “I’m just a normal dude!” Then that ended and the fella from KISS [Gene Simmons] had a reality show. This was a guy who would not have been a huge success were it not for the fact he was invisible as a human being; he was a character. There wasn’t a lot of getting to know him and now all of a sudden I’m watching him and his wife and kids being put in all these demeaning situations. That’s what people are focused on right now.

I mean, James Dean — the guy was probably a fucking jackass. I don’t know him, I can’t say, but that wasn’t how they covered him. I do know that he was sort of a jackass, a wastoid, but at that point in history people really wanted to elevate their icons and make them seem better and more important than they really were. But now we’ve gotten accustomed to reality shows where the goal is to see people acting foolish. It’s like we’re a bunch of fucking gossiping teenagers at this point. That’s just how history works, I guess.

Are fans losing something as a result of knowing more about their favorite musicians?

I read one article in my entire life about the Pixies. It was in Thrasher and came out when I was 14, maybe 15. I don’t read a lot of rock magazines for the most part. I don’t want to know what the fucking songs are about. The one article I was talking about explained what “Debaser” was about — it was from a movie. I didn’t need to know that. I had my own idea and it was fucking great. What I thought the song was about was a lot more interesting than what it was actually about. Bedhead, another band I liked, when I found out one of their songs was actually about a bedside table? Fucking yawn, man — what is this shit?

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>