Former Shins drummer claims he was fired

Jesse Sandoval, ex-sticksman for the indie darlings, claims his departure was not down to 'aesthetic' differences – he was sacked for not being able to play the parts

Four months after the Shins announced a new lineup, the band's former drummer, Jesse Sandoval, has explained the reason behind his departure – he was fired because he couldn't play the parts.

"I have a slower learning curve than polished musicians," Sandoval recently told the Portland Mercury. "There were some drumbeats that [frontman James Mercer] tried to do, that he asked me to do, and I just couldn't do them."

Sandoval was an early member of the Shins, the man responsible for the shuffling beat that made New Slang an indie hit. But in May, Sandoval and keyboardist Marty Crandall were both asked to the leave the band. "It's an aesthetic decision," Mercer told Pitchfork at the time. They were replaced with Fruit Bats bassist Ron Lewis and Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer.

Sandoval scoffed at talk of "aesthetics". "In the studio, I didn't have the luxury to take lots of time to execute drum parts, and you can't really piecemeal drums. So my weaknesses showed ... working with [producer] Danger Mouse only exacerbated that fact."

Though Sandoval accepts his failings, he is still upset that Mercer never confronted him. "It might be hard for him to say it, but – I got fired. There's no other way of looking at it. He turned the page, he wanted to do something else, and he's OK with that. And everybody, me included, can judge him."

Mercer's behaviour reminds Sandoval of one of the Shins' earlier lineup changes – the departure of bassist Neal Langford, who was claimed to have taken up hot-air ballooning, "[Neal] got fired," Sandoval revealed. "Neal was into ballooning but he didn't choose ballooning over the Shins ... the way Neal got fired was no different from the way I got fired."

Mercer emailed Sandoval a "couple times", offering to talk, but the drummer has not responded. "I'm usually the first one to defend James or at least try to help them understood how this came to be," Sandoval said. "[But] behind closed doors, I'm upset to the point where I'm livid, or I'm OK with it, or happy about it ... I feel like I'm a walking contradiction."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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