The Mouse that roars


February 25, 2005


With album sales of 1.3 million, a massive hit single in "Float On" and a Grammy nomination for best alternative album, the sixth effort from Modest Mouse, "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," represents not only a career high point for the Washington state art-rockers, but a commercial resurgence in alternative rock.

Formed in 1993 by guitarist, vocalist and notorious eccentric Isaac Brock, the group has gone through several incarnations during its lengthy career. (The current lineup consists of Brock, guitarist-keyboardist Dann Gallucci, bassist Eric Judy, drummers Jeremiah Green and Joseph Plummer, and violin and standup bass player Tom Peloso.) Gallucci was a member of the group in its earliest days, left in 1997 to form punk-rockers the Murder City Devils, but returned in time to record its most successful album.

The band has toured in support of the disc relentlessly since shortly before its release last April, hitting Chicago alone four times in the last few months. I spoke with Gallucci from the road as the group made its way to town once again to perform tonight at the Congress Theatre.

Q. How did you come to rejoin Modest Mouse?



  • 7 tonight
  • Congress Theatre, 2135 N. Milwaukee
  • Sold out

  • A. I was in the band with Isaac when it first started, then I left to do some more hardcore bands, came back for a little bit and left again to do Murder City Devils. After about six years of that, we broke up. I had gone on tour with Modest Mouse on the West Coast, and Isaac just asked me if I wanted to come back.

    It's pretty crazy what we've accomplished. I got an email yesterday from our manager telling us what the record sales were up to, and it's like a million records more than I thought we would sell.

    Q. Why do you think this album has connected with so many people?

    A. I think there was a weird cultural shift back towards indie rock. You can see it with the Shins record that did so well, and bands like Bright Eyes, and [TV's] "The O.C." having an indie-rock character. Before that, the Flaming Lips did really well with their last couple of albums, and Wilco. You can just see a lot more kids interested in college-oriented indie rock, or whatever you want to call it.

    Q. Tell me about making the album.

    A. We did it in Oxford, Miss. It seems like a really long time ago now, but it was fun. Personally, I am not a huge fan of small towns -- I'm just more of a city person -- so everyone was laughing at me the whole time. There were some tense moments, but for the most part, it was a good experience.

    We spent the winter before we recorded not getting a lot done. To make matters worse, [drummer] Jeremiah quit; he has since come back, but we were a little bit screwed. But we wound up writing most of the record in about a month. "Float On" was a joke -- I came to practice with the chord progression for the song that would become "The World At Large." We were playing that, and it had sort of a melancholy feel, so as a joke, we did a funny, dance-oriented version of it. After a while, Isaac had written lyrics and a cool guitar melody, so it just became this whole other thing, and we all liked it. I know people are sick to death of it now, but I still enjoy playing that song.

    Q. Isaac has a reputation of being a pretty difficult guy to work with.

    A. I don't know. To be honest, I think that people started a long time ago putting him under a microscope, mostly because his lyrics are so personal, but also because he is a little, um, offbeat compared to a lot of people. I'm sure he would be the first one to admit that. And the pressure of having a record that was doing a little bit better -- doing bigger, high-profile interviews and all that -- has just gotten old.

    I remember before the record came out, we were begging people to let us on tour -- that's what we do. Now, we haven't really had a break since the album came out.

    Q. When you were in the Murder City Devils, it probably never occurred to you that you'd have a year like the one you just had with Modest Mouse.

    A. Never in a million years! I mean, there we were at the Grammys! Actually, they were kind of boring, but it's a fun thing to share with everyone that we were there.


    The latest DVD release from Eagle Rock Entertainment's "Classic Albums" series focuses on the last studio album which guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix had full control over in his too-short lifetime, 1968's brilliant "Electric Ladyland."

    Combining vintage photographs, promotional films and in-studio footage with new interviews with key collaborators such as drummer Buddy Miles, bassist Noel Redding and manager and producer Chas Chandler, the riveting documentary traces the conception, writing and recording of the album, offering considerable insight into Hendrix's genius and often-misunderstood personality.

    The DVD doesn't skimp on the "Behind the Music" melodrama--it's particularly surprising to listen to Redding talk about how he hated his bandmate's mind-blowing cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"--but the real treat is hearing recording engineer Eddie Kramer isolate particular instrumental parts at the studio console, rebuilding the multitrack recordings to show how songs such as "Rainy Day, Dream Away," "Voodoo Chile" and "Crosstown Traffic" came together.