James Mercer (musician)

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James Mercer
Background information
Birth nameJames Russell Mercer
Born(1970-12-26) December 26, 1970 (age 41)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
OriginAlbuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
GenresIndie rock
Indie pop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, harmonica, bass guitar, drums, percussions, synthesiser, ukulele, banjo, glockenspiel, lap steel, piano, harmonium
Years active1997–present
LabelsSub Pop
Transgressive
Associated actsThe Shins
Modest Mouse
Broken Bells
Flake
Flake Music
Sparklehorse
Websitetheshins.com
www.brokenbells.com
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul Special Double Cutaway
Silvertone Jupiter
Guild Starfire
Fender Telecaster
 
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James Mercer
Background information
Birth nameJames Russell Mercer
Born(1970-12-26) December 26, 1970 (age 41)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
OriginAlbuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
GenresIndie rock
Indie pop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, harmonica, bass guitar, drums, percussions, synthesiser, ukulele, banjo, glockenspiel, lap steel, piano, harmonium
Years active1997–present
LabelsSub Pop
Transgressive
Associated actsThe Shins
Modest Mouse
Broken Bells
Flake
Flake Music
Sparklehorse
Websitetheshins.com
www.brokenbells.com
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul Special Double Cutaway
Silvertone Jupiter
Guild Starfire
Fender Telecaster
James Mercer 2004

James Russell Mercer (born December 26, 1970) is an American guitarist and musician. He is the founder, lead singer-songwriter and sole remaining original member of the indie rock group The Shins. In 2009, Mercer and producer Danger Mouse formed the side project Broken Bells, for which they released a self-titled album in March 2010. Mercer has also acted, previously appearing in Matt McCormick's feature film Some Days Are Better Than Others, which premiered in 2010.

Contents

Early life

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mercer attended high school in both England and Germany; he lived in England from 1985 to 1990, as his family moved there because his father was in the Air Force.[1]

Career

In the early 1990s, Mercer belonged to a group called Blues Roof Dinner. In 1992, Mercer founded the band Flake Music (originally called Flake) with drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford.[2] Together, they produced the well-received album When You Land Here, It's Time to Return, and toured with Modest Mouse and Califone.[2]

Shortly after the release of When You Land Here, in 1999, Mercer formed The Shins in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a side project.[2][3] Mercer named the band The Shins after the family in the musical The Music Man, a favorite of Mercer's father.[4] The project began as a way to explore three-minute pop songs with conventional chord structure.[5] Mercer recruited Jesse Sandoval to play drums and the two began performing as a duo. The Shins played with Cibo Matto and the American Analog Set, with Mercer serving as the primary songwriter for the band.[2] As The Shins rose to popularity, Flake Music eventually disbanded in 1999, leaving Mercer, Sandoval, and Langford, who joined after Flake Music's disbanding, to focus completely on The Shins.[2] In 2002, the band relocated to Portland, Oregon.

In 2007, Mercer sang backup vocals on the tracks "Florida," "Missed the Boat," and "We've Got Everything" on Modest Mouse's album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Mercer has also been credited with playing several instruments on The Shins' albums, including guitar, bass, synthesizer, ukulele, banjo, harmonium, percussion, beat and MIDI programming.

Mercer began collaborating with Danger Mouse in 2005 when he performed in the song "Insane Lullaby" featured on the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse album, Dark Night of the Soul, which, however, was not officially released until July 2010. After working together on the album, in September 2009, Mercer and Danger Mouse announced a new project called Broken Bells,[6] and, on March 9, 2010, released their debut self-titled album, Broken Bells.

In 2010, Mercer acted in Matt McCormick's feature film Some Days Are Better Than Others, playing the role of Eli, a directionless slacker. The film premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film and Music Festival.[7] Also, in 2010, Mercer and Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock contributed original music to director Chris Malloy's 180° South, a documentary about adventurers in Patagonia.[8] Of the two songs that Mercer contributed, one was a cover of Neil Young's "Journey Through the Past."[8]

Musical style

Musical influences he has mentioned include The Smiths, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Zombies and The Jesus and Mary Chain.[1] Mercer is known to play a worn yellow Gibson Les Paul Double cut faded.[citation needed] With Broken Bells, Mercer has mostly been seen using a Vox Wildcat.

Personal life

Mercer married designer and home decorator Marisa Kula in April 2006 in a small ceremony on Waimanalo Beach in Hawaii, where Kula was born and raised.[9][10] They had met when Kula, then a journalist, was assigned to interview Mercer for a story.[10] Together, they have two daughters.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b "2007'S Original Soundtrack". The Guardian (London). January 4, 2007. http://music.guardian.co.uk/rock/story/0,,1982985,00.html. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Heather Phares. "The Shins Biography". http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p434969. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  3. ^ "Notable Albuquerque Connections". http://www.itsatrip.org/albuquerque/notable/default.aspx. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  4. ^ "The Shins at PureVolume.com". http://www.purevolume.com/shins. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  5. ^ Matt LeMay (01-02-2007). "The Shins Interview with Matt LeMay". http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/6512-the-shins/. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  6. ^ Ryan Dombal (09-29-2009). "The Shins' James Mercer and Danger Mouse Team Up for New Band". Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com/news/36632-the-shins-james-mercer-and-danger-mouse-team-up-for-new-band/. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  7. ^ Scott Macaulay (03-13-2010). "Matt McCormick's "Some Days Are Better Than Others"". Filmmaker Magazine. http://filmmakermagazine.com/news/2010/03/matt-mccormicks-some-days-are-better-than-others-by-scott-macaulay/. Retrieved 05-26-2010. 
  8. ^ a b Tom Breihan (04-21-2010). "Isaac Brock, James Mercer contribute music to documentary soundtrack". Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com/news/38564-isaac-brock-james-mercer-contribute-music-to-documentary-soundtrack/. Retrieved 05-22-2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Progress Report: The Shins". Stereogum. 05-06-2009. http://stereogum.com/68082/progress_report_the_shins/franchises/progress-report/. Retrieved 05-26-2010. 
  10. ^ a b Derek Paiva (06-20-2007). "The Ultimate Shins". http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jul/20/en/hawaii707200304.html. Retrieved 05-26-2010. 

External links