Photos: Bonnaroo 2012
The Shins performs at the Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival on June 10, 2012 in Manchester, Tennessee.

James Mercer talks about his side project and touring 'Port of Morrow'

James Mercer says a second Broken Bells record may be likely before his Shins follow-up to this year's "Port of Morrow."

"We have to do another Broken Bells record, which I'm really excited about," Mercer tells Billboard.com about the group he and Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) launched in 2010. "We've talked about it a little bit. We've got songs already worked out, too, a few things we had been working on after the (self-titled debut) record was pretty much done which we figured would be on the next record we did."


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A timetable is hardly etched in stone, however. "It'll be whenever we get together," Mercer says. "Right now Brian's doing U2; I think he's still in Dublin doing that. He's so sought after and so busy. And I've got (the Shins) for the next year. It's kind of a fun, cool way to do it, very compartmentalized, which I like."

For now, however, Mercer is perfectly happy being on the road with the Shins supporting "Port of Morrow" -- the group's first new album in five years -- and enjoying the Shins' new lineup. "It does feel very much like a band," reports Mercer, who parted ways with most of the Shins' original lineup in 2009. "Joe Plummer (the Shins' drummer) basically joined the band about three years ago, when I was just starting the process of recording ('Port of Morrow'). Richard Swift had opened up for the Shins and was Eric Johnson's (of the Fruit Bats) recommendation; Swift has a very similar sense of humor to me, and he helped the other guy, so I think that helped. We all get along really well."

And while Broken Bells is in his sights, Mercer says he's open to the idea that "if (Danger Mouse) got really busy, maybe I'll just begin construction on the next Shins thing." He doesn't think he'll be wanting for material; for starters, Mercer says, "there's stuff that didn't make ('Port of Morrow') that I'm confident could be turned into really good songs." And, he adds, "I'm always messing around with the guitar at home. Whenever I'm doing that it's always with a goal of coming up with some new part or some new idea for a song. I've got several little things right now, so I'm sure there'll be a lot of material available whenever (the Shins) wind up recording."