Imagine it: You’ve been plying your trade for 12 years through all kinds of difficulties, including–but certainly not limited to–one bandmate nearly exiting the psychosomatic deep end, another moving across the country after being accused of rape by a Javert of alt.weekly journalism, and the trials of making old tricks better with new partners. You’re still doing it. You’ve enjoyed modest success, a modicum of respect in a small, tight-knit community and a place in the pantheon of those that have made a contribution to the craft. Of course, none of that pays the bills or takes care of the newborn at home. That’s Eric Judy as Modest Mouse bassist from 1992 to 2003.
Then, as if flipping a switch, put the partners back in a stable way. Turn what you do into the public’s fancy, the new selling point, the momentary buzz’s bullion. Suddenly, everybody wants to know what you do, see what you do, imitate what you do. The bills are easy, and your influence multiplies exponentially. That’s Eric Judy, following 2004’s release of Modest Mouse’s popular breakthrough, Good News for People Who Love Bad News.
Intimidating, threatening, exciting?
“It’s been its own personal reward for me. I don’t feel like I’ve been a person that’s been very good at sticking things out in the past,” says Judy, riding through the flat, treeless landscape of South Dakota, on the way to the band’s first gig in Sioux Falls in a decade. “But I have with this. It’s had its ups and downs, but I’m really glad to be here.”
Since the release of Good News, life has been an unexpected whirlwind of platinum plaques, late-night television appearances, international tours and prime-time spots with The O.C. crew for Modest Mouse, now the pride of the Pacific Northwest. For months on end, Judy calls the road home, separated from his family. Recently, a roadie told Judy he was sorry to hear about his brother–who had been assaulted back home–before Judy heard about the incident himself.
“I was super stressed about it for a while, but I found out he was just fine,” he says. “Things could have been a lot worse. Stuff like that makes you remember that the other stuff you’re worrying about maybe isn’t that big of a deal, that it’s petty.”
Even more, Judy misses his wife and his three-year-old son, Milo.
“He loves the band. He’ll get his guitar out and his ear covers, and he just sings ‘Float On,’” Judy says, adding that Milo now plays his own fiddle and drumset, too. “For our last show in Seattle, he came onstage and rocked out. It was fun.
Modest Mouse plays Tuesday, June 14 at the Raleigh Convention Center Arena. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $25.