Artist profile: The Shins

Since their official 1997 formation in New Mexico, The Shins have made their way onto film soundtracks and “Saturday Night Live”.

The Shins began as a lofi group named Flake, which was started by current Shin’s member James Mercer and former member Neal Langford. Once Flake disbanded, The Shins formed. The band’s name comes from a fictitious family in the Broadway show “The Music Man”.

Once formed, The Shins released their first two singles titled “Nature Bears a Vacuum” and “When I Goosestep.” With the foundation of these singles under their collective belts, The Shins went on tour with Modest Mouse where they were approached by a representative of Sub Pop Records, the same label that fueled grunge in the early 90’s by signing Seattle bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden as well as the hilarious New Zealand act Flight of the Conchords.

With the credibility of a label like Sub Pop backing their music, The Shins released their first album “Oh, Inverted World” in 2001. Aside from critical acclaim, three of the songs from the album were featured in two films. “One by One All Day” and “Caring is Creepy/New Slang” were featured in the films “A Guy Thing” and “Garden State”, respectively. The exposure through “Garden State” introduced The Shins’ music to a much larger audience.

Shortly after the release of the “Garden State” soundtrack, the group relocated to Portland, Oregon, after bassist Neal Langford left the band. Once replaced by Dave Hernandez, the band recorded and released their second album “Chutes Too Narrow” in 2003. The album received acclaim from both music reviewers and fans by branching out their sound to that of different genres.

The band took a break from recording new material for a while, doing covers and re-mastering some of their old songs, but released the band’s most highly acclaimed album to date, “Wincing the Night Away,” in 2007. The album hit #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart and sold 118,000 units in its first week on the shelves – a first for a Sub Pop artist.

On May 2nd, The Shins are kicking off a 12-city tour starting in Bellingham at Western Washington University. They will then play for two consecutive nights, starting May 4th at The Showbox.