Former Shins Drummer Jesse Sandoval Speaks Up as Band Preps New Record

Jesse Sandoval
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In his first public statement about his recent departure from The Shins, drummer Jesse Sandoval spoke candidly in an interview with thePortland Mercury explaining the conditions of his leaving and his current attitude toward the band.

When frontman James Mercer asked Sandoval and keyboardist Marty Crandall to leave the band earlier this year, it was during a time of sparse communication between the members. Sandoval reports that the break-up happened over a series of voicemails, phone calls and text messages. He expressed his frustration with the way the situation was handled and how unclear Mercer's intentions in the decision were. "I don't entirely know all the reasons," Sandoval said. "We have not had a dialogue."

He did note that much of Mercer's decision was based on creative tensions that came up when the band recorded together. "I have a slower learning curve than polished musicians," Sandoval admitted, a problem that became clear when Mercer wanted to experiment with more complex drum patterns. The band's success put Mercer "in a place where he has an infinite amount of resources and talent to work with and play with," Sandoval said.

Sandoval, who has been replaced by Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, spoke with equal parts anger and humility. "I have to own up to my own faults," he said, explaining his insecurities about his own playing. And, in defense of his former bandmate, he said, "This whole process for him was probably excruciating, I mean, again, he's not a malicious person."

Not all is lost for the former Shins drummer. Early this summer, Sandoval realized a long-time dream: his taco cart, Nuevo Mexico, is open for business in Portland, Ore. He is also considering collaborations with a handful of Portland singer-songwriters.

And his former band? In addition to Plummer and longtime Shins bassist Dave Hernandez, the group's new roster lists Eric Johnson and Ron Lewis of Sub Pop cohorts, the Fruit Bats. As Mercer told Pitchfork in a May interview, a new record is in the works that may see release as soon as early 2010 on the frontman's own label, Aural Apothecary. This follow-up to Wincing the Night Away will feature some of Mercer's brightest music yet. "I'm not so melancholy lately," he told Pitchfork. "I'm real happy. I've been lucky in love and I've got a wonderful kid now and things have been going well."

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