The Golden Casket

The Golden Casket

When Strangers to Ourselves arrived in 2015, Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock let on that he actually had another LP’s worth of material ready for release, if only his label would let him. “These are not those songs,” he tells Apple Music of The Golden Casket. “I went into the studio with [producer-composer] Dave Sardy and a blank slate. One plan was just to not touch a guitar, but that didn't last long—the guitar is fun. Another plan was to make a kalimba record, but I knew that that wasn't realistic—I’m talking out of my ass now, as I was then.” What Brock did record, ultimately, was an album he’d enjoy making and listening to—a thick collage of spidery riffs, woozy synths, and the odd snippet of found sound, the opening of cans or the cracking of his knuckles included. Lyrically, he took inspiration from a line he loved in the song “Private Execution,” from Australian rock outfit The Drones’ 2016 LP Feelin Kinda Free: “What do fish know about water?” It is, he says, “a very simple, concise way of saying we don't know what we don't know and there's a lot we don't fucking know. I'm a proponent of psychedelics, and there's more to the universe than we understand. That's not even an existential question.” But in light of that, there is a real sense of gratitude and optimism coursing through The Golden Casket, from “We’re Lucky” to “The Sun Hasn’t Left,” a reassuring response to the tumult of 2020. Much of that can be traced to Brock’s recent embrace of parenthood. “Everything I do is influenced by this now,” he says. “Unless you're an asshole, once you've brought people into the world, it's necessary to figure out ways to make things better for your brood, to make things work. You can't be too fucking cynical—it’s only right.” Below, Brock walks us through some of the album’s key tracks. “F**k Your Acid Trip” “It's just kind of a lot of fun. It’s not too heady. I'm not making people get deep into the thickets too quick or anything. That's why it's the opener, you know? That song could be as basic as a story about an acid trip—which it kind of is—but it's also about any ride you didn't agree to take, any conversation or situation where your participation wasn't asked of you.” “We Are Between” “I don't know where it began, but I know where it ended up. It's just about how lucky it is to be here—you know? How lucky we are to get to live in an ocean of oxygen, how lucky we are just to even get between a rock and a hard place. Fuck. There's a limit to feeling good about life on earth, I'm sure, but most of the time, it shouldn't be there.” “We’re Lucky” “That just one fell out—I don't know that I ever had to put pen to paper. It’s kind of a love song, for getting to be here in the fucking universe, against all odds. Probably one of my favorite moments on the record, because it just feels right.” “The Sun Hasn’t Left” “That one kind of culminated because of the riots going on at the same time as a pandemic and the fucking sky was blacked out basically for parts of the days from forest fires and shit up here in Portland. I had to write that song. For no other reason, as a reminder. I saw a lot of people I knew really, really get pretty fucking bummed out and I felt like I needed to say something encouraging.” “Never F**k a Spider on the Fly” “It ended up being a gentle reminder to trolls and anyone who is trying to fuck with other people's rights or whatnot: All this negative shit, it usually actually ends up preying on them too. There are no fucking winners. Yelp reviews are like a really pedestrian version of this. Yes, everyone fucking has an opinion, everyone fucking should be allowed an opinion, but the way you feel about your fucking meal is now like an act of war. It’s a bummer to see how bad we are at getting along or even just dealing with a bad sandwich like it wasn't some sort of personal assault.” “Leave a Light On” “Everyone got to spend a lot of time in their homes and whatnot. I got to think about everyone's looking at their same four walls over and over again and what that was. And then I got to thinking about how other people's walls are new. It’s a song of being welcoming and being welcomed.” “Back to the Middle” “I love this song. It’s one that was around before the recording session, around the time of the last record. I've always really liked it. My mom, believe it or not, is the reason this is on this record, because she's very politically charged and felt like it was a strong statement for just getting closer to a centered place.”

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