James Mercer has been the only constant in the Shins, a band he formed in 1996 in New Mexico while a member of another band called Flake. Flake had released some singles and gone on the road with Modest Mouse, but Mercer desired a more focused sound than the collaborative, improvisational sound of his current group. By 1999 Flake has disbanded, allowing Mercer to focus on the Shins.

After hearing the band in concert, Sub Pop records offered the band a chance to release a single as part of the label’s continuing singles release club. When New Slang was released it generated enough positive press to make the Shins first album Oh Inverted World one of the most anticipated indie releases of 2001. The record did not disappoint and achieved sales far beyond the labels’ expectations. Mercer was able to leverage the success of the album through lucrative licensing deals and touring.

New Slang would advance the Shins a second time when it was featured in the film Garden State. Natalie Portmans’ character says that the song will ‘change your life’ in the film, and after the movies’ release, the band sold twice as many copies of their two records as they had prior to the film.

After a decade of the Shins, Mercer put the band on hold to recover from the stress of it all. Removing himself from the center of attention as he was in the Shins, Mecer collaborated with Danger Mouse in the well received project Broken Bells.

When the Shins returned it was without the original band members replaced by a rotating cast of musicians supporting Mercers’ vision for the band.

Recently the Shins reissued Oh Inverted World in a deluxe form to celebrate its 20the Anniversary and this year the band is playing the album in its entirety as part of their ‘21st birthday’ tour of North America.