The Shins are winding down a nearly year-long tour in support of their 2003 sophomore Sub Pop album, “Chutes Too Narrow,” which has become one of the label’s top-selling releases of the past decade. The set peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart and has shifted more than 225,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“We’re very, very happy,” Shins frontman James Mercer tells Billboard.com. “You know, it was something we worried about. The first record [2000’s “Oh, Inverted World”] did really well for a new indie band, so it was like, is that it? A lot of times, that’s it. You’re done.” Sales have also remained steady for the group’s debut, which never appeared on The Billboard 200 but has moved more than 184,000 units to date.
As the year winds down, the Shins will appear Friday (Nov. 5) on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Sunday as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Long Beach, Calif. The group will also play at Los Angeles radio station KROQ’s annual Acoustic Christmas concert in mid-December and kick off a short tour of Japan and Australia Jan. 30 in Osaka.
Beyond the Shins’ contribution to the “SpongeBob SquarePants” soundtrack, Mercer says he has begun fiddling with new material. “It seems to be not very effective for me to try and write new songs out on tour,” he admits. “I’m so out of sorts, just being in a hotel. We never have time, either. You’re either recovering or you’re in a van driving.”
Asked when fans could expect the Shins’ next full-length, Mercer speculates, “It will be within a year as far as getting back into the studio. Probably a year from now it would be good to have the third record come out, and maybe sooner if I get some more downtime.”
Mercer has also scored the documentary “Towlines,” directed by his friend Matt McCormick. “It goes from sweet, little acoustic picking things to strange, atmospheric keyboard stuff. But melodic. I can’t avoid that, it seems,” he says with a laugh. “That was one of the challenges. I can’t help but just try and write a song. You don’t want that. You want the visual thing and the narration to be the leading factor, not the music. You don’t want a music video.”
And although nothing is confirmed, the artist says there has been talk of releasing his “Towlines” score in tandem with labelmates the Postal Service’s score for “American Nutria,” McCormick’s short film about South American rodents. “What we’re thinking is that we could maybe release the two soundtracks as a double album,” he says. “It would be cool for people to be able to hear it.”
Mercer will play a rare solo set Dec. 10 at the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Ore., in conjunction with a screening of “Towlines” and other McCormick films. For ticket information, visit the center’s official Web site.
Here are the Shins’ tour dates:
Nov. 7: Long Beach, Calif. (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
Jan. 30: Osaka, Japan (Club Quattro)
Jan. 31: Tokyo (Astro Hall)
Feb. 4: Brisbane, Australia (Arena)
Feb. 6: Sydney (Metro)
Feb. 9-10: Melbourne (Corner Hotel)
Feb. 11: Adelaide, Australia (Fowlers Live)
Feb. 12: Perth, Australia (Perth Festival)