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We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is the fifth studio album by Washington-based American indie rock band Modest Mouse, released in 2007. The album is the first studio album by the band since 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News and is also the first album with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as a member of the band.


The album was recorded at Sweet Tea Studio in Oxford, Mississippi with producer Dennis Herring, becoming the second consecutive Modest Mouse album to be recorded at that location and with that producer. Audible Alchemy in Portland, Oregon was also credited as a recording studio for the album. The original drummer for Modest Mouse, Jeremiah Green, also returned to the band for this album. Additionally, James Mercer of The Shins sings backup vocals on the tracks "We've Got Everything," "Missed The Boat," and "Florida."

The album was leaked to the Internet on February 15, 2007, a full month before its official release on March 20, 2007. In its first week of release, the album debuted at #1 in the Billboard 200.

The album went gold in Canada in June 2008.

Johnny Marr joins the band

In an interview, Isaac Brock said of Johnny Marr: "He made a cautious commitment to write and record with us, and then the tighter we got, he was like, ‘okay, let's tour too'. Then he was pretty much a member of the band-- not pretty much. He's a full blown member of the band. It's really fuckin' nice." According to Brock, Marr was involved in songwriting on the album, and will even tour with the band in support of it. In the interview, Brock described We Were Dead... as a "nautical balalaika carnival romp". Johnny Marr later responded to Brock's comments by saying "Isaac contacted me and asked if I'd help Modest Mouse write the new album. I was intrigued and played with the band in Portland a couple of times. We hit it off and wrote three great songs straight away, something clicked, it felt right from the off. I have a new Healers album pretty much done, but we've been having such a good time playing these new Modest Mouse songs. When people hear the record they'll see why, we're very good together.

Release details

The album was originally intended to be released in the United States and Canada on December 19, 2006, but in an e-mail sent to members of Modest Mouse's mailing list on October 6, 2006, the album was pushed back: "The forthcoming record We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is set for release early next year...". It was pushed back until March 20, 2007, and released on April 2, 2007 in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The album was also released in Australia on March 17 and Germany on March 30.

Two CD versions of the album were released for purchase: the regular version, which comes in a standard jewel case, and the deluxe digipak version which "includes a digipack and a 32-page full color booklet all packaged in a deluxe slipcase" made of canvas. The Sony Music website also offers a double gatefold (2 LP) 180-gram vinyl edition of the album.

In anticipation of the album's release, Modest Mouse was named March 2007's Xbox Live Artist of the Month Xbox Live users could download the "Dashboard" music video and have the chance to play against the band in an upcoming Game with Fame. There was also a sweepstakes and other exclusive bonuses.

Track listing

Bonus material

  • A behind the scenes look into the making of the "Dashboard" video entitled "A Fisherman's Tale" was included with iTunes Store pre-orders of the album and the Japanese limited edition 2-disc set.
  • A 7" vinyl single featuring the unreleased track "King Rat" with album track "Fire It Up" as the B-side was included with the pre-order of the album at certain retailers.
  • U.S. Best Buy stores offered a pre-sell CD single with three tracks from the album. It was made available on March 7, two weeks prior to the release of the album and contained the tracks "Dashboard", "Education", and "Little Motel." The single carried no title other than that of the 3 tracks. Unlike typical promotions of pre-sell material that contain coupons for some value off the final price of the album (this one was $1.99 - a reimbursement for the cost of the single, making it a free promotional tool), this CD featured only album quality tracks and no live or other unreleased tracks.


The first single released from the album was "Dashboard" in January 2007. It was first sent to members of the Modest Mouse e-mail list on January 3 and is still present on the band's media player on their official MySpace page. The song was released to radio on January 16, and made available at the iTunes Store on January 29.

The second single was "Missed the Boat", with the video being directed by Christopher Mills (who also directed the Float On video). It peaked at #24.

The third single is "Little Motel". The video was shown on the official Modest Mouse Youtube channel on October 11th, 2007.


  • Produced by Dennis Herring
  • Engineered by Joe Zook & Clay Jones
  • Assisted by Tom Queyja & Rob Cooper
  • Recorded at Sweet Tea, Oxford, MS & Audible Alchemy, Portland, OR
  • Additional Engineering by Kyle "Slick" Johnson, Reto Peter & Tom Queyja
  • Mixed by Joe Zook & Dennis Herring
  • Mixed at Sweet Tea, Oxford, MS, "Little Motel" mixed at AUS California, Studio City, CA
  • Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk, New York, NY
  • Lyrics by Isaac Brock
    Music by Modest Mouse
    © 2007 Ugly Casanova (ASCAP) / Tschudi Music (ASCAP) / Crazy Gnome (ASCAP) / Marr Songs Ltd. (BMI) / Party Pants Music (BMI) / Robot Horse Music (BMI). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
  • Modest Mouse is Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green, Eric Judy, Johnny Marr, Tom Peloso, Joe Plummer
  • Clay Jones — Shaker on "Dashboard", Programming on "Florida", Acoustic Guitar on "Missed The Boat"
  • Dennis Herring — Claps & Stomps on "Parting Of The Sensory", Rhodes on "Little Motel", Backing Vocals on "Steam Engenius", Pump Organ on "Spitting Venom"
  • Kyle "Slick" Johnson — Programming on "Dashboard", "Fire It Up", "Parting Of The Sensory", "Little Motel" & "Invisible"
  • Naheed Simjee — Backing Vocals on "Fire it Up", Claps & Stomps on "Parting Of The Sensory"
  • James Mercer - Backing Vocals on "Florida", "Missed the Boat" & "We Got Everything"
  • Art Direction by Isaac Brock, Christian Helms & Nahjeed Simjee
  • Design by Christian Helms & Geoff Peyeto at The Decoder Ring
  • Booklet Interior Illustrations by David Ellis & Casey Burns
  • Thank You: Steve Lobdell & Mike Gillentine
  • A&R: Kaz Utsunomiya
  • Management: Ravenhouse Ltd.
  • James Mercer of The Shins appears courtesy of Sub Pop Records

Chart positions


Chart (2007) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 1
CMJ Radio 200 1
Australia Aria Charts 12
Estonian Album Chart 42
IRMA Irish Album Charts 22
New Zealand Top 40 Album chart 26
UK Album Charts 47


Single Chart (2007) Peak
"Dashboard" U.S. Modern Rock Tracks 5
"Dashboard" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 59
"Dashboard" U.S. Hot Digital Songs 45
"Dashboard" U.S. Pop 100 56
"Missed the Boat" U.S. Modern Rock Tracks 24


External links

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