This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Had it been up to the guys in The Shins, their new hit album "Wincing the Night Away" would have come out a couple of years ago.
Of course, if it had, it probably wouldn't have hit Top 10 on Billboard's "Hot 200" album charts. And it probably wouldn't be the fastest-selling album out of the chute on SubPop Records, the Seattle indie label that was once home to the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Sleater-Kinney.
Call it the "Garden State" effect. The 2004 Sundance movie made by "Scrubs" star Zach Braff grew from an unheard-of indie-flick into a cultural phenomenon among teens everywhere, and the soundtrack album helped boost the fortunes of acts like Iron & Wine, Frou Frou and, more than anyone, The Shins.
"When that movie came out, that was around the time we were trying to start work on our third record," bassist Dave Hernandez said. "Right as we were gearing up for that, the movie comes out. We didn't really realize how big of a deal it was going to be.
"We thought we might get a copy of the DVD out of the deal," Hernandez said of the band's agreement to put a couple of old songs on the soundtrack for "an indie movie made by that dude from TV."
"We ended up having to tour all over the world all over again for another year and a half."
The Shins - Hernandez, James Mercer, Marty Crandall, Jesse Sandoval and new member Eric Johnson - aren't complaining. But suddenly that third album, "Wincing the Night Away," was being made with a world of expectations for the newly minted indie-rock stars.
The Portland-based band, originally from Albuquerque, retreated from the limelight for a while before delving into "Wincing." That helps explain why main songwriter Mercer can offer sentiments ranging from dark and mournful to joyful and life-affirming; he went through a rough breakup, met someone new and got hitched (and is now expecting a kid), all in the course of writing and recording the new album.
Mercer isn't the only one who got a home life between 2003's "Chutes Too Narrow" and the new album. Hernandez is getting married this summer, Sandoval has a child and Crandall has a serious girlfriend.
"We all have really heavy home lives. Beautiful, involved home lives, so it's hard to leave that" to go on tour, Hernandez said. "In a sense, it makes it easier that we're all involved. We're all kind of in the same place."
And being in The Shins is a good place to be right now. When "Wincing" was released in January, it debuted at No. 2 on the album-sales charts, becoming the first Sub Pop album to debut in the Top 10 or sell more than 100,000 copies in its first week. And unlike many indie-released albums that make a splash on the charts, "Wincing" has lingered around the Top 10 for nearly a month. The release was accompanied with the kind of hype you'd expect from bigger acts than an unassuming Northwest crew: a slot on "Saturday Night Live," magazine covers, late-night talk show spots. It's enough to make a young man's head swim.
"To be honest, we're really trying to do that delicate dance between enjoying it because it's so unexpected, and completely ignoring something that's just going to mess us up and freak us out," Hernandez said.
"I'm not sure if all of us fully realize what's going on. Maybe a year from now we will."
THE SHINS, with Viva Voce opening, play tonight at 6 at In the Venue, 219 S. 600 West, Salt Lake City. The show is sold out.