Modest Mouse at Mad Cool 2022 on writing with Johnny Marr – and why you should never fight The Cribs

Speaking backstage at Mad Cool 2022, Isaac Brock tells us about imminent new music and his dream of working with Rihanna – as well as taking us for a tumble by teaching us "push hands"

“I enjoy what I do, and sometimes I do it angry,” Modest Mouse‘s Isaac Brock tells NME at Mad Cool 2022 just after stepping off stage from a killer early evening set. The cause of his ire today? “I was angry at the sun!”

Still, he’s not angry now. Quite the opposite in fact, as he grows pretty wistful and philosophical when we ask him what he usually likes to get up to while in Spain. “I spend a lot of time in Catholic figurine stores,” he says. “You’ll see like a leper getting its wounds licked by a dog. I was like, ‘This is an amazing bunch of sculptures!’ I used to have a house full of cool shit like that, now I have a house with a two-and-a-half-year-old and a four-year-old.”

A time comes for everyone to change their ways eventually.


“Rather than being a curator of interesting bullshit, I’m more interested in being a curator of experiences and lessons,” Brock continues. “I’ve got an insane mineral collection, but that’s down at the studio. I’m at the stage of my life where I just like interactions with people and nature. Anything that doesn’t serve me is fucking pointless – as in anything that doesn’t serve love, food, family, friendship, a well-balanced civilisation or nature, I don’t give a fuck about.”

While in the mood to take stock, we caught up with Brock to talk about touring with The Cribs, gymnastics, imminent new music, his long-awaited return to writing with Johnny Marr, his dream of working with Rihanna, and we also take a tumble when he teaches us “push hands”. Watch our video interview with Brock above.

NME: Hello Isaac! So you’ve just come off the road with The Cribs in the US. That must have been fun? 

Isaac: “They are a very nice bunch of dudes. They were following a bus tour in a van, and that’s not easy to do. That’s 14 hours of driving then playing. I think they’re having a punk rock moment.”

Modest Mouse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Modest Mouse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Do you have any tall tales from life on the road with them?

“I used to be very good at gymnastics and shit. When I’m drunk, I forget that I’m not fucking 18 and good at gymnastics anymore. Also, you have to stretch for this shit. We were doing this thing – you wanna see something neat?

*At this point in the interview, Brock demonstrates ‘push hands’, where two people gentle rotate together before trying to throw each other off balance. He tells us its “very zen”*


“So this is what we do. The Cribs brought a lot of boxing gear. I was going to box them, but then I remembered that you shouldn’t box people who are brothers, or fucking fit and British. I boxed a guy from England once in Japan. It was bare-knuckle boxing and I fucked up every ligament in my knee. Anyway, The Cribs like things like that and we like things like that.”

We’ve been living with your brilliant recent album ‘The Golden Casket’ for just over a year now. Have you been working on much new material?

“Yeah, I got seven new songs coming out pretty soon. As soon as we were done with the last album, I had a thorn in my side about everyone saying, ‘Why does it take so long to put out records?’ Because I find other interests! Not all of them good, but fuck it! I don’t want to have to answer that question anymore, so I have a record that I’m really happy with.”

Modest Mouse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Modest Mouse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

And we understand that the prophecy has been fulfilled and you’ve finally been writing with Johnny Marr again. 

“I sent him one of the tracks from the shit I was just talking about. He wrote a part on that. We talked about writing again, but we’ll see how that pans out. Our schedules aren’t necessarily aligning. I would love to write with him again and I imagine we’ll do it. I found a Native American dude who was playing out front of a store the other day. He was playing fiddle and singing. I was like, ‘I want to work with you’. I never know what I’m gonna do.”

Do you have any other dream collaborators? 

“Let’s see, I don’t think it would work to collaborate with Rihanna but I like her shit. Gareth [Liddiard] from Tropical Fuck Storm would be fun to collaborate with, but we kinda do the same thing so it might be weird. I also really like Tirzah. I think she’s British actually. I love that shit.”

Check back here at NME for the latest news, interviews, photos and more from Mad Cool 2022.

NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022