The Shins shine on Saturday

Most followers of indie rock strongly believe that the artists are in it for the music, and that money has no effect on the decisions the band makes. Alas, they lament, that the band should fall into the deep, horrible abyss of other artists loathed for becoming ?sellouts.? Dave Hernandez of the Shins, though, said quite frankly that his bandmate, James, ?has never been shackled with the silly bones of ?selling out? or whatever.?

Mercer confirmed this multiple times through an interview sitting in the grass on Friday afternoon, such as when he was asked about how the Shins got involved in putting their music in commercials for the Gap. Mercer?s first response was, ?If the money is right ... and you feel like it?s not going to associate you with some sort of a product too much, then it?s up to the artist to do whatever you want, you know??

Which doesn?t mean that the Shins aren?t concerned about their music. When it comes to the music, Mercer and Hernandez agreed that their music has changed and matured since the root of the Shins, Flake, put out music. While Flake was more of a stream-of-consciousness type of band, whose lyrics were something that resulted from (sometimes alcohol-induced) conversation, the Shins have taken a more serious route, where more thought and inspiration is involved. ?Lyrically I think I tend to write about melancholy stuff for some reason ? sad stuff,? Mercer said. When Hernandez joked, ?You?re such a glum sourpuss. Such a dismal outlook on the world,? Mercer explained, ?See, I?m not at all. Just when it comes to lyrics I?m more inspired to write about something that?s bugging me instead of something that just makes me so happy.?

And what makes Mercer happy? Well, for one thing, we did find out that initially his favorite part of being in a band was getting to design T-shirts and album covers. But on a more serious note, he finds similarities between a love for drawing and a passion for music. ?I use painting and visual arts as a metaphor a lot of the time when I?m thinking about the process you go through to write a song. I think there?s a lot of similarities. I think that any creative process is a link to all others.? Interesting fact: Mercer designed the Oh, Inverted World CD booklet, and helped a local Portland, Oregon, artist design the album cover for Chutes Too Narrow.

The Shins are laid-back, funny guys who are pretty isolated in their musical world. They don?t listen to the radio, and don?t follow popular music at all. Witness the following dialogue between Mercer and Hernandez:

JM: I don?t really have a car right now...If I had a car I?d probably listen to the radio more.

DH: By default we couldn?t help but be aware of Franz Ferdinand or Modest Mouse; we?re friends with Modest Mouse, and we?ve done festivals with Franz Ferdinand and Keane. I love Franz Ferdinand. Keane?s cool too, I guess.

JM: I guess so, but I can?t really tell you what Keane sounds like. I don?t remember them. I know we played with them.

DH: Kinda sound like Snow Patrol, which kinda sounds like Coldplay, kinda sounds like... you know how it goes.

That?s the way Mercer and Hernandez interacted through the entirety of the conversation; being quite frank about some things (for instance, how Hernandez doesn?t like the frilly-doily look some girls are going for now) and humorous about everything (for instance, Hernandez pointing out that their producer Phil Ek gets in arguments with Hernandez?s girlfriend about facial products). It?s obvious that the Shins are down-to-earth guys who haven?t yet come into contact with the spotlight of extreme fame: they want to keep it that way.