It's no secret that the Shins have been riding the success of their second album, Chutes Too Narrow, for a while now. Since the album was released back in October 2003, they've maintained a near-constant tour schedule and have released a string of singles in various collectible formats (the "Fighting in a Sack" mini-EP, the "So Says I" picture disc, etc.). And as such, you can't blame the guys for wanting to get on with things.
So they put Chutes to bed with a two-night stand at Portland, Oregon's Crystal Ballroom Sunday and Monday and are heading into the studio this summer to begin work on a new album (see "Shins Ready To Attempt Topping Their 'Garden State' Success"). So you could imagine frontman James Mercer's surprise when he was checking his e-mail one day last month and came across a note from a dude in Israel ... with a video for the Chutes tune "Pink Bullets" attached.
"He had e-mailed me about a year ago and asked me if he could work on a video for us. I had kind of forgotten about it, honestly. I don't even remember how he got my e-mail address," Mercer laughed. "Here's this guy from Israel — in the Israeli army, actually — and he made this cool, paper-motion video for us."
That guy was 22-year-old Tel Aviv resident Adam Bizanski, who made the video for "Pink Bullets" over the course of three months, by himself, in his apartment. He built all the miniature sets and carefully moved the video's star — a paper cow — centimeter by centimeter, snapping each frame with his stop-motion camera. And in order for the cow's mouth to match Mercer's voice, he was forced to break "Pink Bullets" down into syllables ... which he eventually translated into his native Hebrew.
But for Bizanski, making the clip was easy. After all, he'd spent three years in the Israeli army, guarding the border and listening to the Shins' first album, Oh, Inverted World. For him, the most difficult thing was just trying to get in contact with Mercer.
"Much like everyone in Israel, I served three years in the army, and during that period I got acquainted with Oh, Inverted World," Bizanski said. "A friend of mine was going to New York to catch a Shins show at a record shop. I gave him a letter to give to the band and a video I've created for an Israeli artist. Eight months later, the same week I was getting discharged from the army, I received an e-mail from James saying that he liked the video I sent and would like me to create a video for the Shins."
The Shins put the video up on their Web site, and the reaction from fans was so great that Sub Pop (their label) submitted the video to MTV. And now this stop-motion clip is getting major play on college campuses across the U.S., via mtvU.
And the Shins couldn't be happier. Bizanski's "Pink Bullets" video means that they can spend more time working on their album. ("Also," Mercer quipped, "We didn't even have to get out of our hot tubs to make this one.") But there's still one question on the bandmembers' — and a lot of viewers' — minds: Why a cow?
"I have some cow fixation, it's hard to deny that," Bizanski said. "But when I first heard the song, portraying such a delicate love story, painting such a rural image, I immediately knew the main character must have four legs. I really had no choice."