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Interview:
Juggling two bands helps the Shins' James Mercer keep things fresh
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

James Mercer has discovered an equation for rejuvenating a band -- in this case, his group the Shins.

It started with a band hiatus in 2008, then a wholesale change in the group's membership, including three members who came on board just last year. Toss in a side project -- Broken Bells, Mercer's collaboration with Danger Mouse -- and he came back to the Shins for a new album, "Port of Morrow," and feeling "very happy with my new situation."

"I'm happy with the record," says Mercer, 41. "I feel freedom now, something that I really wanted for a long time. I knew I wanted to try something new. I wanted to try something different, but I didn't know if that mean I was going to have to lose the Shins name to do it.

"I was in a lot of ways a very inhibited person in the past. I've kind of pulled a lot of those things out of the way, I guess, things that were sort of obstructing me. This is kind of a new period now."

Mercer is, in fact, looking ahead in addition to promoting "Port of Morrow." He anticipates making another Broken Bells album, probably later this year or in early 2013. But at the same time, after using a large cast of musicians on "Port of Morrow," he's "been thinking a lot about" making another album and this time using the current Shins lineup.

"It very much feels like a band," Mercer says. "We all do really get along well. I'm always messing around with the guitar at home...always with the goal of coming up with some new part or some new idea for a song. I've got several little things right now, and there's other stuff that didn't make this record that I'm confident could be turned into really cool songs.

"I really want to keep (the Shins) moving forward, and I'm confident I've got the right group of people to do it with now."

The Shins, the Antlers and Deep Sea Diver perform Wednesday, June 6, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$45. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.



Web Site: www.livenation.com

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