Not only musicially talented, James Mercer, the frontman of The Shins, has “tuned” into his acting abilities as well. Mercer recently co-starred in “Some Days Are Better than Others,” a feature-length film directed by Portland’s experimental filmmaker Matt McCormick. When asked about his experience with acting in an interview with Pitchfork, Mercer commented “it was really fun and I guess kind of scary, but really, really fun. I took acting lessons and everything. I’ve never acted before…It was a challenge. I had that feeling of accomplishment when you take on something you’re a little bit scared to do. It seemed to work out pretty well. I’ve seen a little bit of it and it’s not embarrassing for me to watch. Which is saying something.”
The film is currently in post-production. In addition to Mercer’s acting endeavors, he and The Shins have encountered some recent changes as well. There is a new Shins’ album in the works, but with a little less and a little more. The Shins’ keyboardist, Marty Crandall, and drummer, Jesse Sandoval, are no longer in the band. Instead, Ron Lewis (from Grand Archives and Fruit Bats) is now on bass and Joe Plummer (of Modest Mouse) is on the drums. Although the original members had been playing together since the mid-90’s, Mercer decided it was time for a change.
“I started to have production ideas that I wanted to do that basically required some other people,” he said. “It’s mainly about that. It’s an aesthetic decision. It’s kind of hard to talk about stuff like that, isn’t it? Because I don’t want to bum anybody out. I’m on good terms with those guys, I hope to maintain that.”
The new album, which is still in the early stages, will be released on Mercer’s own record label, Aural Apothecary. Mercer tells his fans that the new album won’t be as moopy and has a lot more up-tempo stuff. None of the songs are going to be “real slow” because he has been really happy lately, which may have something to do with the more cheery album. He is “lucky in love” and has a wonderful kid now and “things are going well.” He stated that the songs are going to be sort of aggressive in a new way sort of way, which he is really excited about.
Mercer and the “re-made” band have debuted two of their new songs, “Double Bubble” and “The Rifle’s Spiral” on their current spring tour and have 30 more songs in the working. They will begin recording after they wrap up their tour.
Remaining tour dates include:
05-07 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
05-09 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
05-10 Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
05-11 San Diego, CA – SOMA
05-13 Richmond, VA – The National
05-14 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05-15 Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live
05-16 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
05-17 Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theater
05-18 New York, NY – Terminal Five