The Shins Phantom Limb

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The Shins was formed in 1996 by James Mercer, a member of the band Flake Music in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Flake Music (formerly known simply as Flake) consisted of members guitarist/vocalist James Mercer, drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Martin Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford. The group began in 1992 and released a string of singles and an album, When You Land Here, It's Time to Return, which was well received. The band toured with Modest Mouse and Califone. Mercer formed the Shins for a change of pace and enlisted Sandoval on drums. When asked what it was that began his interest in music, Mercer said ". . . it got me out of my shell and gave me a social life. " They began performing as a duo alongside Cibo Matto and the American Analog Set. Mercer became the band's primary songwriter, and consequently, "the group developed a more focused, crafted sound than Flake Music's charming, if somewhat rambling, collaborative style. " His focus on percussive guitar playing still led friends to deem demos as too similar to Flake, and he focused on taking the music in a different direction. Unlike Flake, Mercer was the band's sole lyricist, and songs were built from his initial structure. The group added Scared of Chaka's Dave Hernandez and Ron Skrasek to complete their lineup, but the two musicians left before the end of the decade to pursue their work with Scared of Chaka. By 1999, Flake Music disbanded and Neal Langford joined the Shins.