Isaac Brock and the Chaotic Creation of “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”

Isaac Brock, the enigmatic frontman of Modest Mouse, recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone Music Now. In this candid and hilarious conversation, he reflects on the tumultuous journey behind the band’s 2004 major-label breakthrough album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News. As the album celebrates its 20th anniversary, let’s delve into the fascinating story behind its creation.

The Backstory: Breach of Contract and Unexpected Turns

When Modest Mouse began work on Good News, they were already in breach of contract with Epic Records due to delays in delivering a follow-up to their acclaimed album, The Moon and Antarctica. However, Brock reveals that Epic Records’ concerns were not their primary focus. The label was cutting bands left and right, and Modest Mouse was on the chopping block. Fortunately, a twist of fate spared them from oblivion. An accounting decision saved their name, and they continued recording with a defiant spirit.

Living Together and Musical Meltdowns

Brock had an ambitious vision: reassemble the band members in Portland, Oregon, where they could collaborate closely, much like The Band did. It wasn’t about emulating The Monkees or creating a concept; it was about fairness. Portland was the midpoint between Seattle (where some band members lived) and Brock’s own location, three hours south of Portland.

However, chaos ensued during the recording process. Late drummer Jeremiah Green was prescribed medication for depression, which led to unexpected side effects. A pharmaceutical meltdown unfolded, and Green’s mental state deteriorated. He missed the first few days of recording, and when he finally showed up, things got weird. Brock even attempted to build a studio himself, diving headfirst into the technical aspects without consulting any manuals.

The Legacy of “Float On” and Beyond

Good News for People Who Love Bad News spawned the iconic single “Float On,” which became a cultural touchstone. Its infectious melody and optimistic lyrics resonated with listeners, propelling Modest Mouse into the mainstream. The album’s blend of indie rock, folk, and experimental sounds showcased Brock’s songwriting prowess.

As we celebrate two decades of this influential album, Isaac Brock’s candid interview sheds light on the band’s resilience, creative process, and enduring impact. Whether you’re a longtime fan or discovering Modest Mouse for the first time, Good News remains a testament to artistic authenticity and the unpredictable journey of music-making.