Not too long ago my friend Jeremiah asked me to help him write a simple 500 word bio for the Remo drum heads website. He knew that I had been writing a lot lately and was probably trying to be supportive (and maybe a bit productive). This was simple, Jeremiah has always been one of my favorite people.
“Just take whatever you don’t know off of the Wikipedia website” he said. “And you can make up the rest from memory or whatever.”
In film school an instructor once told me that my friends weren’t interesting. “Nobody wants you to follow your friends around with a movie camera, it just isn’t going to work.” He said, “I don’t care if they’re surfers or DJs or whatever, don’t be lazy kid. Go out into the world and find an actual subject.”
It’s possible that I find my friend more enigmatic than the rest of the world does (could mystery be a common theme in most friendships?), but I’ve had a lens pointed at Jeremiah ever since bringing my first camera home. I still can’t capture him. It’s tough not to get lost in your talented friends, I’m sure it takes a certain talent of your own (which I still do not possess).
While attempting some quick Modest Mouse research on the web, I couldn’t help but notice that accurate Jeremiah information wasn’t readily available… there really haven’t been any interviews and the floating bios all quote the same Wikipedia blurbs he referred me to. Hey, he is enigmatic. It was time for a new bio. Take that Wikipedia, I can go straight to the source:
“Hey, Jeremiah,” I texted,”where did you and Isaac meet?”
“At a renaissance fair.” He sends back.
“Is that true?”
“No, don’t say that. I don’t think that even needs to be in there. It’s not that big of a deal, dude.”
Below you will find my final draft – a mix between memory, Wikipedia, and a few quick emails with his Mother:
As a method of keeping constant rhythm, Jeremiah Martin Green has a tendency to surround himself with a wide selection of samplers, drum machines, turntables (rocks, bones, fingernails) whenever possible. Wander alongside of him one day and you might notice an odd cadence directing your feet forward – beats tapped onto dirty jeans, jewelry and coins generating involuntary clatter on computers and steering wheels… Jeremiah’s perpetual swirl of motion, off of the drum set, seems a mystical code, unbreakable and busy. It’s when Jeremiah sits behind the drums that a secret decoding begins, a rolling familiarity sets in and we’re off into his travels… both real and imaginary.
Jeremiah plays drums in a band called Modest Mouse. Born in Oahu, Hawaii in 1977, his family moved to Washington State shortly thereafter. In 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted. The destruction of the nearby logging roads brought Jeremiah, his older brother Adam and their mother, Carol, directly into the blast zone to help with the rebuilding efforts. It was during these days that Jeremiah’s earliest memories were formed in a small camp trailer nestled among the debris of a melted forest.
By 1989 the Green family had moved to the Eastside suburbs of Seattle. Jeremiah split his time between learning to play the drums and getting his skateboard confiscated by local law enforcement. In 1993 Jeremiah started playing music inside of a shed built by friend Isaac Brock. Eric Judy joined up, they named themselves Modest Mouse and quickly recorded an EP on Olympia’s K Records.
In 1995, while continuing to play with Modest Mouse, Jeremiah helped form two influential NW bands: Red Stars Theory with good friends James Bertram, Jason Talley and Tonie Palmasani and Satisfact, with Matt Steinke, Chad States and Josh Warren.
Modest Mouse recorded with Seattle’s UP Records before signing to Epic just before the turn of the millennium. Since then, they’ve released three studio albums and four EP’s. In the last ten years Modest Mouse has enjoyed commercial success on tour with REM, as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live and earned two grammy nominations (amongst other things).
In 2007, Stylus Magazine ranked Jeremiah 37th among the “50 Greatest Rock Drummers Of All Time” right after John Densmore of The Doors. In the past few years, Jeremiah continues to experiment and record with side projects The Vells, Psychic Emperor and Plastiq Phantom.
Jeremiah currently makes his home on a peninsula, just outside of the Olympic National Forest. Here he continues to experiment and record music all day long in the trees. You can find the trees, soil, water, ash, lichen and logs all in his rhythms if you look for them. But don’t look too hard for surely as soon as he is tapping into the pulse of the Northwest, he will march it elsewhere… and then he’ll march it back again.