WE WERE DEAD BEFORE THE SHIP EVEN SANK is MODEST MOUSE's first studio album since 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and it is also the first album with former The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. According to Pitchfork, James Mercer of The Shins sings backup vocals on the tracks "We've Got Everything", "Missed The Boat", and "Florida". This album is the second consecutive Modest Mouse album recorded at Sweet Tea Studio in Oxford, Mississippi with producer Dennis Herring. According to lead singer Isaac 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."