The Shins are an American indie rock band from Albuquerque, New Mexico, formed in 1996. The band's current lineup consists of James Mercer (vocals, guitar, songwriter), Joe Plummer (drums), Jessica Dobson (guitar), Yuuki Matthews (bass), and Richard Swift (keyboards). The band is based in Portland, Oregon.
The Shins began in 1996 in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a side project for singer-songwriter James Mercer, whose primary band was "Flake Music." Mercer had formed Flake Music in 1992 with Neal Langford on guitar, Phil Higgs and Marty Crandall on bass, and Jesse Sandoval on drums. During the next five years Flake Music released several singles and a full-length album, and began touring, largely due to the help of other bands like Modest Mouse.
In 1996, Mercer began writing what would eventually become The Shins' first record. Flake Music came to an end around this time leaving Mercer with an opportunity to record Nature Bears a Vacuum, a 7" EP released by Omnibus Records. For their earliest shows, The Shins performed as a duo with Mercer, recruiting Sandoval to play drums. Nature Bears a Vacuum was released with no expectations of expanding the band's following beyond Albuquerque. However, the single generated enough attention that Mercer felt it necessary to assemble a full band. Martin Crandall was brought into the fold on keyboards, and Dave Hernandez (front-man of local punk legends Scared of Chaka, which had played dozens of shows with Flake Music) on bass.