We visit James Mercer's home studio for these solo versions of songs from Port of Morrow, the new release from The Shins.
The Shins' James Mercer, recorded 2-13-12 at Aural Apothecary studio
Audio recording/mixing: Steven Kray
Video production: Ifanyi Bell
Video shooters: Ifanyi Bell / Greg Boone / Mike Smith / Josh McHale / Danika Sandoz
Photos: Ifanyi Bell
Interview: Jeremy Petersen
It's been five years since we last heard from The Shins. 2007's Wincing the Night Away completed a rather remarkable first three record run for the band on Sub Pop, introducing darker, new wave leanings to their evolving sound. It cemented The Shins' place among indie A-listers, debuting with sales of over 100,000 copies in the first week and later going gold. Not bad for an act that began as a one-man bedroom recording project from a member of Flake Music.
But then, silence. There wasn't much at all to report on the musical side from the band some said would change your life. Not that things weren't busy. Frontman (lead Shin, or lone Shin, if you prefer) James Mercer spent the time fostering a new collaboration alongside Danger Mouse as Broken Bells, while also playing an acting role in Matt McCormick's Some Days Are Better Than Others, and adding father of two young daughters to his list of duties. Most significantly for the entity known as The Shins, in addition to a new album (the upcoming Port of Morrow is out March 20th) and a new label, 2012 finds Mercer backed by an entirely new lineup (Jessica Dobson, Richard Swift, Yuuki Matthews and Joe Plummer making up the quintet).
Mercer recently welcomed us into his studio space, a former carriage house turned rustic recording enclave located next to his home in SE Portland. He caught us up on his on-goings, talked about the circumstances surrounding the changes within The Shins' lineup, and played a couple of songs from the new record (as well as a take on his band's best-known single).
No Portland dates announced quite yet, but look for The Shins to be touring extensively this year, plus hitting Coachella, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo. They also play the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend with The Head & the Heart and Blind Pilot on May 25th.
Other sessions you might like: