UPDATE December 15, 2014
Click here to listen to an official stream of lead single”Lampshades on Fire.“
It’s been nearly eight years since Modest Mouse’s last album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. In the interim they’ve debuted eight songs live (all of which can be heard in the above video) amidst rumors, teases and speculation aplenty about the follow-up. It all starting with this tweet from OutKast’s Big Boi on April 25, 2011:
In August 2011 guitarist Jim Fairchild discussed Modest Mouse’s sessions with Big Boi in an interview with Rocksucker, admitting he was not present. “I didn’t go out to those sessions. They were trying out some songs with Big Boi. I’m not really sure what’s going to come of that. I think Isaac’s still in the process of deciding who he wants to record the record with….They were recording Modest Mouse songs out there. But I don’t think Isaac knows what he wants to do with the new record yet so it’s very early stages.”
An amateur interview video recorded at the sessions with Big Boi surfaced in May 2012. In it Brock says they are working on two songs, one of which is “Coyotes.” Big Boi has given conflicting interviews about these session since, saying at various points that they worked on as little as three or as many as five songs. Modest Mouse allegedly spent a week (or more) at Big Boi’s Stankonia Studios in Atlanta, working 14 hour days with Big Boi and Chris Carmouche. Two days after Big Boi’s initial tweet he updated his twitter followers:
A month later Modest Mouse debuted “Lampshades On Fire,” the first of eight new songs to be tested on concert audiences before being released (or possibly nine, depending on how you count them, more on that in a bit). This May 26, 2011 Boise, Idaho Knitting Factory performance was followed by many more (most recently at the last show of Modest Mouse’s 2014 tour proper, FunFunFun Festival) – all predating its official release next Tuesday.
“Well the lampshades on fire
When the lights went out
The room lit up when we ran about
This is what I really call a party now
“Pack up our cars, move to the next town!”
“Poison the Well” was debuted two night later, May 28, 2011 at Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA. It was played a dozen more times over the course of the following 14 months, but has not been played since Firefly festival 2012. On May 29, 2011 Modest Mouse headlined Sasquatch, playing both “Poison the Well” and “Lampshades on Fire.” Being the entire set was streamed by NPR, this was most fans first taste of the new material.
Some more lyrics:
“Come on man I’m not the problem, well,
I’m not tryin’ to push you around, well,
Poison the well, you’re enemies of the city
Took your money, and threw their own damn parties!”
Several more new songs were debuted at concerts in 2012. First came “Ansel” on January 25, 2012 at San Francisco’s The Warfield. It was played several more times that year and this past summer. “Sugarboats” – also sometimes referred to as “Heart of Mine” – was debuted at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheatre on May 19, 2012. It is the most common unreleased song in 2014 Modest Mouse setlists, and their second most played song overall this year (behind “We Were Dead’s” “Dashboard”).
In November 2012 Big Boi again repeated the claim that he’s at least partly producing the next Modest Mouse album, telling Spin, “Me and my partner Chris were working on some songs with Modest Mouse for their new record. We brought them out to the studio for a whole week — Isaac and the boys came down to [Atlanta studio] Stankonia for a week. To live day in day out with somebody, it’s so cool. Going to get dinner, going to get breakfast. The conversations and little side stories are the things that really pull the music together.”
2013 saw more new songs debuted live, including “Be Brave” and “Shit In Your Cut” on April 10, 2013 at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Both have been played frequently this year, especially the latter. Modest Mouse’s Coachella set on April 12, 2013 stirred mixed reactions: was Brock drunk? was it a shabby performance? or, conversely, one of the weekend’s best? In any case the highly circulated rip of “Be Brave” from this show’s official webcast is the most watched performance of the band’s new material.
Modest Mouse seemed more intent to finally finish the album in 2013, going so far as canceling their tour to do so. In September 2013 (Nirvana bassist) Krist Novoselic revealed to Spotify he plays on the next Modest Mouse album: “And so I did a song with Modest Mouse, earlier this year for their new record. It’s pretty edgy. I’ve got my big Gibson bass and a Rat distortion pedal busting out a… this bass riff.”
At the beginning of 2014 Rolling Stone editor Jenny Eliscu revealed on her Sirius XM The Spectrum show that she had heard plans from Modest Mouse’s camp to finally release their long-awaited album that year. Combined with a photo posted to the Howie Weinberg Mastering Studio Facebook page in February showing Howie and Issac in the studio, the new disc seemed imminent. Big Boi again discussed the project in April 2014, telling Hollywood Reporter: “We’ve got these songs they’ve been sitting on forever. I saw [frontman Isaac Brock] a couple months ago and they’re working on some additions to what we did. I don’t know. It’s a crazy camp over there. It’s coming. Talk to him! He’s the boss.”
“Coyotes” – the only song confirmed to have been worked on with Big Boi in April 2011 – was debuted at Orlando’s Beacham on May 16, 2014. It’s been played a handful of subsequent times, most recently November 7th in Houston. “Pistol” debuted on July 12, 2014 at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus, OH, and played several more times in the weeks to follow. Finally a song believed to be new called “God Is An Indian” – though some counter it’s not new, but rather a reworking of “Bukowski” – was debuted on July 22, 2014.
What’s to be made of all this is anybody’s guess. Official album details are still slim. Here’s what’s confirmed:
- Strangers to Ourselves is the name of the long-awaited album
- It will be released March 3, 2015
- “Lampshades On Fire” will be its first single, debuting on radio tomorrow and available for purchase on Tuesday.