Wednesday, May 6, 2009

About Those Shins Lineup Changes...

By Evan Rytlewski
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­Pitchfork reported today on some dramatic changes to The Shins' lineup:

When the Shins took the stage at Western Washington University on Saturday night for the first night of their spring tour, fans discovered that the band had changed. Keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval had been replaced by Ron Lewis from Grand Archives and Fruit Bats on bass and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse on drums. Crandall, Sandoval, and Mercer had been playing together since their mid-90s Flake Music days, and Mercer decided it was time for a change. "I started to have production ideas that I wanted to do that basically required some other people," he said. "It's mainly about that. It's an aesthetic decision. It's kind of hard to talk abut stuff like that, isn't it? Because I don't want to bum anybody out. I'm on good terms with those guys, I hope to maintain that."

He added, "I wouldn't say I'd never work with them again. I love working with those guys." (And in case you're wondering, according to Mercer, Crandall's exit from the Shins didn't have anything to do with that domestic abuse drama from early last year.)

­First read? This is probably a good thing. Mercer, always the dominant creative force in the band,  swapped out two decent players who likely didn't contribute much in favor of some far better players with more to add. Joe Plummer's done great work not only drumming for Modest Mouse, but also the Black Heart Procession and, even more so, the great (and overlooked) Magic Magicians, where he more than carried his weight. And adding another member of the Fruit Bats to the group, which already includes Fruit Bat main-man Eric Johnson, can't be a bad thing.

And let's face it: Much as Mercer may dismiss Marty Crandall's domestic-abuse allegations, they were distracting. It's hard to maintain a reputation as a an everyman indie-pop group when your keyboardist was infamously accused of beating up a supermodel in a hotel.

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