The Shins Reflect on Success

February 2, 2007 6:13 PM ET

Melodic indie rockers the Shins could have had a huge disappointment on their hands with Wincing the Night Away, the band's third record. After Shins songs appeared on the now iconic soundtrack to Zach Braff's ode to purposelessness, 2004's Garden State, the band got relatively huge. So when tracks from their post-Garden State album leaked on the internet last fall, the band was very disappointed, and their team was concerned the leak would affect sales of their new album.

Wincing the Night Away should have been the Shins big breakthrough, and it was. In spite of the leak, the album debuted at Number Two on the charts, selling 117,991 units in its first week, a huge score for an indie album. We got the chance to catch up with lead singer and lyricist James Mercer to discuss his big moment. Here's a few choice comments.

Congratulations on the great debut. Were you surprised?
It's all been really surprising. It's crazy. I'm not educated enough to make a good guess about sales, but we did hear estimations and none were as high as 119,000. We're behind Pretty Ricky? Can somebody explain to me what the fuck that is? Are they a boy band?

Kind of. A dirty one.
Oh, OK. Maybe it's good. I don't know.

There seems to be a quantum leap, just in terms of awareness, since your last record. Is it comfortable?
So far it's been really comfortable. In fact, it feels like the more legitimized you are by the sales, the more comfortable everybody around you tries to make you feel. We were just doing this session where they had this luxurious spread of food. Instead of just getting shuffled around by people, you kinda get respected. Everybody starts taking care of you and you start giving a shit less.

A lot of people will buy this record that haven't heard the others. Do you think this is a good record to introduce yourselves to people?
Yes. I think it's full of good ideas. I'm thinking specifically of "A Comet Appears," questioning the whole concept of faith and stuff. People in the States need to fucking listen to that thing, to that sort of statement. I think it would be good for people to have thoughts like that in their heads.

How are you been sleeping these days?
I've tainted the whole thing because I've been taking sleeping pills.

No, Lunesta.

I've seen the commercials.
Yeah, me too. They worked.

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