This tale was told (in July 2003) by Elyse Sewell, third place runner-up on the UPN television program "America's Next Top Model 2003" and, coincidentally, Shins' keyboardist Marty Crandall's girlfriend.
Our story's beginnings are immersed in the clouded and impenetrable waters of time. Gaia, the Earth Mother, awoke from a century's sleep to find herself in peril of overpopulation and the consumption of her precious resources. Determined to save herself and the peaceable peoples who inhabited her green lands, she created five magical rings, instilling each ring with one of the five awesome powers of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart. Gaia scoured her far-flung corners to find young men worthy of the rings' burden and the accompanying responsibility. She found her warriors and directed them to stamp out eco-villains through the four mighty pillars of recycling, reduction, reuse, and rock. When they first united in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1997 and their powers combined, these men became collectively known as: THE SHINS.
The sanguine James Russell Mercer harnesses the awesome power of Heart in his vocals and guitar work, as previously seen in his Dinosaur Jr. cover band Blue Roof Dinner. The Euro lad was raised in Germany and enjoys schnitzel with noodles as well as raindrops on roses, the Beatles, and Maker's Mark. Martin Lesley Crandall invokes Gaia's power of Wind through his keyboards. Born in Albuquerque into the Yavapai Apache tribe, this former guitarist of the Freakazoid Doilies has been known to channel the strains of his teepee-dwelling ancestors' ancient flutes into airy keyboard stylings. The power of Water, held by James Neal Langford, was recently defeated and replaced with original Shin and ex-Scared of Chaka member Davíd Yanul Hernandez and his ring of Fire. The smoldering, Byronic Dave was conceived a San Franciscan love child and born in a commune in Guadalajara, Mexico; these details are made obvious through his Eros-soaked bass mastery. Jesse Carruth Sandoval possesses the ring of Earth. He was born in Lima, Perú and, beginning with his work in Domestic Soul, has remained in contact with his terrestrial roots both through his stolid drumbeats and soil-covered body.
The Shins' first album, Oh, Inverted World, debuted in June of 2001 on Sub Pop Records to the acclaim of good people everywhere and the dismay of eco-villains worldwide. In the wake of its success and extensive stateside touring, the men receded from the spotlight for a yearlong hiatus: Marty played GameCube; James relocated to Portland and bought a house formerly occupied by a 1920s-era speakeasy; Jesse also moved to Oregon to continue his work with troubled youth; Neal and Dave battled for control of the bass resulting with Dave joining the band in May of 2003. Recorded mostly in James' basement home studio, with later mixing assistance from Phil Ek, the second installment in the Shins saga, Chutes Too Narrow, dropped in October 2003 like Fat Man on Nagasaki, except for good, not evil.