The Shins’ James Mercer plays the song he wrote for his daughters: ‘Name For You’

January 27th 2017


  • James Mercer :: Interview on Arvos with Grace Farrell 16.01.17
  • James Mercer :: Name For You (Live on Arvos 16.01.17)


Life following the birth of his three daughters has completely shifted for James Mercer.

With a stronger outlook on femininity and social equality, The Shins frontman revealed a fair bit about his inner workings when he spoke to Grace Farrell on Arvos. Introducing The Shins’ upcoming album, Heartworms, Mercer broke down his writing process – from the first beats to the final takes – and discussed the influence of his collaborative side project Broken Bells on that process.

Time away from the limelight has changed a lot has for Mercer. With more time to be reflective, he now writes with his daughters in mind.

“I think it’s important for us to remember that our mothers and sisters were once little girls. I just want them to feel utterly confident and comfortable going out in the world – and I don’t know that that’s a thing yet.”

The changes occurring in Mercer’s personal life will clearly be reflected on Heartworms. ‘Name For You’, the first single from the record, was written for – or ‘because of’ – his children. They lyrics address the ways in which women are constantly labelled in modern society.

“We seem to worship masculinity and brutality. I guess this is a song in praise of femininity, and how important it is. You can’t have one without the other.”

Observing other major changes in the last few years, Mercer describes the studio where Heartworms came to fruition – a place we he “could just screw around” with nobody waiting on him.

“We bought this house that’s quite old – built in 1889. It’s an old place and in the back, there was a carriage house that still had horse tack hanging up and bridle and things. It was just kinda magic, and it was falling apart,” he says.

“I was like – ‘This could be a studio, I could have a place of my own where I could work and be able to do all this stuff, and spend that time that it takes to get into the nitty gritty of a song. And also do the weird stuff that ended up on Heartworms.‘”

By writing within this unique, reclusive environment, some deeply honest songs came about – like ‘Mildenhall’, which Mercer describes as “probably the most personal and non fictional song about my life… and I really love it a lot.”

While we wait to hear the rest of Heartworms, listen to the full interview and live acoustic rendition of ‘Name For You’ above.


Heartworms by The Shins will be released on March 10, 2017.


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