The brand new album from The Shins, Port Of Morrow, is their first since 2006’s Wincing The Night Away. Frontman James Mercer kept busy in the interim, teaming up with super-producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse on the Broken Bells project. So, the first thing we asked James when we caught up with him over the weekend at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival was what made him feel that the time was right to revisit The Shins?
“During the Broken Bells project, everything that I did creatively, I did on the spot with Brian [Burton, aka Danger Mouse],” he explained. “Since I made that conscious decision that I wouldn’t be bringing ideas I made up at home into the studio, all of the stuff that I came up with on my own went to The Shins. I just had a build-up of ideas for songs, and parts, and choruses and verses.”
Well, judging by the reaction to the new material —the band just graced the stage of Saturday Night Live a few Saturdays ago—he picked a perfect time to rededicate himself to this particular creative outlet of his. Port Of Morrow, which comes out tomorrow, is not only the name of the album and a song on the record, but also a real-life industrial port in Oregon. “[Port Of Morrow] is so poetic sounding, it sounds like something out of Shakespeare to me,” Mercer revealed. “I thought about it like this departure point that you would leave, but I also thought about the river Styx. So, it came to symbolize death, I guess? [Laughs] Maybe I shouldn’t have called the record ‘Death.'”
A resident of Portland, we made sure to press him about his thoughts on Portlandia before our time was up. In particular, we asked him this: Is the dream of the Nineties alive in Portland? “To some extent, yeah,” he laughed. “You’re not on the map until somebody can make fun of you.”
[Photo: Jen Marigliano/VH1]