The grand state of Alaska has blessed us with many offerings in recent years. Sarah Palin, Jewel and “Into the Wild” come to mind when thinking of our brothers and sisters of the North. One frozen export that has mostly escaped the public eye is an indie group from Wasilla named Portugal. The Man. And for those of us who were just about to crucify the copy editors, yes, there is actually a period in the middle of the band’s name.
If there’s one trademark of Portugal. The Man’s work, it is its prolificacy. The band has already knocked out six studio albums (to go along with five EPs) in its five-year career. Its last LP, American Ghetto, was received well critically, and since its March release the band has signed to heavyweight Atlantic Records and prepped a new album with established producer John Hill (The Bravery, M.I.A.).
Frontman John Baldwin Gourley is ecstatic to work with Hill, noting that Santigold’s Hill-produced debut record is one of his favorite records of the past five or six years.
“His work is what it is, and it stands alone,” Gourley said.
With the switch to Atlantic, Portugal fans will surely be wary of the “sell out” tag that has been applied most recently to artistically reborn bands like Kings of Leon. But Gourley was quick to dispel any such hubbub.
“It didn’t change anything,” Gourley said. “We still get to do things we want to do, and try things we want to try.”
He threw in his own two cents on groups that blame controlling major labels, though.
“Sometimes bands just don’t work as hard as they should for what they’re given,” Gourley said. “Maybe the songs just weren’t good enough, you know?”
Recent faceless Internet sources have tabbed the new album as having a progressive Pink Floyd or T-Rex mystique, but Gourley didn’t want to label the sound just yet. He opted for a hippie-esque filibuster instead.
“We just let things happen, pretty much… And whatever happens, happens,” Gourley said. Touché.
Gourley admitted that the album will be “darker,” but he offered up no further details other than “it just sounds really good.”
And Portugal. The Man will most likely not delve into the realm of politically conscious tunes.
“None of us are public speakers,” Gourley said. “We’re passionate, but it’s not enough to step out like that.”
The Alaskan chaps are currently touring, and Oct. 6, they’ll roll into Mojo’s for one of their first headlining slots in months. And for fans who have diligently been keeping up with Portugal’s discography, Gourley promises a few surprises.
“We’ll try to play some new songs,” Gourley said, “Although I haven’t talked about this with the guys yet.”