Isaac Brock has never really been your average rock star. Sure, in a perfect world his band, Modest Mouse, would dominate radio like an indie rock Mike Tyson—the trio’s spacey pop thumping all challengers in one swift blow. But as it stands, the odds on Modest Mouse ever ending up on MTV are about as slim as Marlon Brando. It just ain’t gonna happen. Translation: The closest Brock will probably ever get to a whiskey-soaked orgy backstage at the Meadowlands is being cornered at the Starbucks down the street by a bunch of caffeine junkies who want his view on existentialism.
But that doesn’t mean the singer-guitarist hasn’t lived the kind of life most of us would gouge out an eye for: world travel, cult admiration, freaky crap. In the eight years that Modest Mouse has been upsetting indie-rock purists and confounding critics, Brock has racked up a world book of stories and gleaned the kind of sage wisdom that’s usually reserved for friends of the Dalai Lama. So rather than go off on some random pontification interjected with silly quotes, I figured I would just drop the name of Modest Mouse’s funky new EP—Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks (Epic)—and then let Brock go off on whatever he felt like. Consider it travel advice from rock’s accidental tourist. Just remember to make sure the radiator is full before you hit the road.
Hotels in Phoenix: “I went to Phoenix for a mixing session a few years ago. I didn’t have anyplace to stay. I just figured I’d just fly in, catch a cab and sleep on the roof of the studio or something. But when I got there, the studio had an alarm system, so that wasn’t going to work. Then it was like, ‘Well, I could sleep in a park,’ but I couldn’t find one.
I ended up in this crappy little hotel. The first room they gave me I couldn’t even get into. There was police tape across the door and this huge lock on the doorknob, like someone had been killed in the place. I went back to the office. They didn’t even know that room was blocked off. They gave me another room. This time I could get in, but the sheets were all crusty—you know what I mean. I didn’t sleep much that night. I’ll never get a hotel room in Phoenix again.”
The French: “We played some festival in France last year. We’ve never cleared out a place faster than that. You hear all about those trampling deaths in Europe. There should have been some at those shows, if just for the fact that they all walk around with baguettes. You could trip someone with those things. And the French treat them like they’re some sort of magic staff of rudeness. [In bad French accent] ‘Oh, did you fall down? That’s so sad. What do you want, a hospital? This is not America, you idiot.’
“Yeah, well, just give me that baguette. I’ll pour some water on it and throw it in the freezer for a couple hours then come back and beat you senseless, you French shit.”
Irish horses: “I took a trip to Ireland with my mom and we stayed at some hostels. One had these American college dudes. They wanted to quiz me about my lyrics. I hate that. But then we all got drunk and decided to go out and catch a horse with a flashlight. That’s not a good idea in any country.”
Drug smoking aliens: “We tried to hitchhike to San Diego once. We were on tour with Built to Spill. Our van broke down north of L.A. We missed that show. But we figured we could still make the San Diego show the next day.
“We got picked up by this guy in a beat-up ’70s Camaro. He was smoking a lot of pot, which was fine. But he had this stone in the back seat that looked like some volcanic rock. He swore it was a meteor that was worth millions of dollars and it had the skeletons of aliens in it. When you smoke enough grass, I guess you’ll believe anything.”
The fall of Seattle: “I’ll never live in Seattle again. Something went very wrong up there. There’s just this weird vibe—too much money and no focus. It’s kind of scary. All those computer guys killed that place. I went up there a couple weeks ago. I won’t do that again. It doesn’t have a pleasant feel anymore. People just kept bothering me. I hate that. That’s why I live on the fringe of nowhere. At least here my distractions are my decision. I don’t have people coming up to me when I’m sitting having coffee or something. Take your fucking latte and leave me alone.”
Capitol mechanics: “We were in D.C. staying at a friend’s house when Neutral Milk Hotel’s tour van broke down. I said I knew what to do. So I was under the hood when this neighbor came out and said he would help. He was like, ‘It has to be the thermostat,’ pointing at this weird spot in the engine. I said, ‘No, they don’t even put the thermostat in that part of the engine.’ But he said he could fix it and then quickly ran into his house.
“He came back out with a hacksaw. He said this is how he fixed everything at his house and just went about sawing something off. Needless to say, that van got towed. And what pisses me off is that I could have totally fixed it if Mr. Hackmeister didn’t come out and start sawing. Fucker.” u
Modest Mouse. Bricks, 579 W. 200 South, 328-0255, Friday Oct. 12, 6 p.m.