Isaac Brock Is a Guiding Light for Indie Rock

“He approaches creating songs from a very different angle than pretty much anybody.”

modest mouse09 NB Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock performing at Waterfront Park as part of MusicfestNW 2015. IMAGE: Natalie Behring. (Natalie Behring)

Age: 47

Occupation: Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Modest Mouse

Why He Matters: For 30 years, Isaac Brock has led one of the most influential bands in the Pacific Northwest. Modest Mouse’s first three albums are arguably among the greatest indie-rock albums—and their fourth, 2004′s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, featured the hit “Float On” and went certified platinum with sales of more than 1.5 million copies.

Brock has a turbulent history with Portland. In 2015, he expressed ambivalence about the city he calls home (“Portland is weird, but it’s kind of a crappy weird”); in 2019, Poison’s Rainbow, the bar he co-owned in the Kerns neighborhood, abruptly closed. Yet Portland has remained a constant in his life, even as his career expanded and he became a father of three.

Last month, Brock and his band sold out two consecutive nights at the Crystal Ballroom, proving that they remain a guiding light for indie rock in Portland. There’s a certain poetry to Brock’s stratospheric journey: Raised in a fundamentalist church in Montana, he ultimately became a deity to his fans.

Biggest Influence: “Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are one of my favorite environmental/political action groups. They have actually motivated me in music. They have been up against immeasurable odds on a subject that many of us were relatively unaware of until recently, which is the horrifying abuse of ocean life, since 1977.”

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: “My guilty pleasure is Raffi. I have two little kids, and they have two speeds: anything that sounds like Taylor Swift and the Kidz Bop version of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out.’ Sometimes I’m just like, ‘Could we please just listen to Raffi?’”

Best Quote About Him: “He approaches creating songs from a very different angle than pretty much anybody, and no matter what kind of bizarre experiment he tries and fails [at], it’s still more interesting than a lot of what people do.” —Keegan Bradford of Portland band Camp Trash

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