Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mouse on Marrs

On how Mr. Johnny Marr ended up as a member of Modest Mouse from HARP magzine...

HARP: About a year ago you received a rather unexpected call from Isaac asking you to join this band. How aware of Modest Mouse were you at that point?

I was aware. Some of the songs that I liked I really liked —“Satin in a Coffin,” “Dramamine.” Obviously “Float On” and a couple of things off The Moon & Antarctica. So I knew what they were about. But I just didn’t think I was at a place in my life where I wanted to pack up and join a band as a guitar player.

HARP: Part of that, I imagine, had to do with leaving your family. You had to relocate to Portland for a while to do this, right?

I was in Portland for a lot of the time, yeah. But my family, luckily for me, is very excited that we have a new record in our lives. That got us through. Both my son and daughter and my wife are really excited [about the new record]. You know, both my kids play?

HARP: Actually, someone told me that your son is a really big Modest Mouse fan.

Yeah, he knew the riff to “Ocean Breathes Salty” before I learned it. [laughs] So that was kind of handy! I am sort of philosophical about being away from home. I was away for a long stretch of time when we were writing the record, but luckily they’re really big fans.

HARP: I also heard that that when you were deliberating over joining the band, your son basically pulled you aside and said, “Dad, you have to do this.”

Well, I’d kind of made up my mind [when that happened]. I was talking to them about being on tour. I was saying, “This record might keep me away next year. What do you think?” And he was like, “What are you even asking me for? It’s Modest Mouse. Go do it.” [laughs] But there was a very symbolic moment when I was driving over to the rehearsals one day. I got attached to a couple of the songs in a big way and I found myself accelerating because I was excited to go and play the song we were working on. I thought to myself, at that moment, “Shit, you’re doing it. You’re getting attached.” They didn’t even know if I was going to be able to make the entire record.

HARP: For a lot of people your membership in this band is sort of surprising. There are some fairly notable differences between the six of you. Aren’t you sort of a health nut?

Yeah, for me it’s no kind of Aerosmith deal or anything. People might think it’s in the interest of being sedate and conservative, but it’s actually the opposite. I’m really intense about it. I don’t have any truck against psychedelics, not in the slightest. I’m not into alcohol and I loathe cocaine. I think it’s really corny and anti-creative. But yeah, I’m very intense about it. It’s not a silly vanity thing.


The news single "Dashboard"


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