Portugal. The Man kicks off Spring Back to Vail festivities | VailDaily.com
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Portugal. The Man kicks off Spring Back to Vail festivities

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
While Portugal. The Man is based out of Portland, Ore., the band's founding member, frontman John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers grew up together in Alaska.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

Who: Portugal. The Man plays Spring Back to Vail. Bonfire Dub opens.

Where: Solaris, Vail.

When: Friday. Doors open at 5 p.m. Opening act starts at 5:30 p.m.; headliner goes on at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit http://www.vail.com.

The members of Portugal. The Man got a bit of a gut check on a cross-country flight in March. Last month, following a pair of shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the members of Portugal. The Man hopped a flight to South Africa. Ten minutes into the flight, the plane was forced to make an emergency landing.

“That was pretty scary,” said bassist Zach Carothers. “One of our engines blew up at around 10,000 feet. Everyone started writing their loved ones as the flight attendants prepped us for a crash landing.”

For Carothers, the intense experience clued him into something pretty important.

“At least now I know if anything happens, I’m happy with my life and I won’t be freaking out at the end. Good to know,” he said.

The band, which has been around since 2006, performs a free show in Vail Friday night. It’s the kickoff concert for Spring Back to Vail, which brings three nights of free music to Solaris in Vail. Trampled By Turtles plays Saturday night and the Greyboy Allstars take the stage Sunday, immediately following Pond Skimming.

Scotty Stoughton is the frontman for Bonfire Dub, which opens for Portugal. The Man. He’s a big fan of the Portland-based group, he said.

“Their sound is unique, authentic and obviously they have remained true to their vision,” Stoughton said. “The music is a real shot of refreshment and creativity and it’s an honor to join them on stage.”

Speaking of creativity, the band’s name is certainly original. If you’re curious about how Carothers and frontman John Gourley came up with the band’s name, you’re not the only one. It’s a question that’s been asked over and over.

“We wanted to create an alter ego, the way that David Bowie created Ziggy Stardust,” Carothers said. “We knew that we weren’t just one man. We needed the name of our fictional character to represent our group. A country is one name for one group of people with one voice in the world. We thought Portugal would be a great name for our guy.”

FROM DANGER MOUSE TO MIKE. D

Portugal. The Man’s sound may be difficult to pin down at times, but that’s because the group is always seeking out innovative producers who will push them in new directions. They worked with Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, the five-time Grammy award-winning producer behind everything from Gnarls Barkley to the Black Keys, on production of their seventh album, “Evil Friends.”

“Music to me is all about collaboration and collectiveness,” Carothers said. “A lot of artists are scared of that. They get a lot of ego and think they can do it better. We’re not like that. We think it’s fun to work with other producers — it changes it up and keeps things fresh.”

To that end, for their eighth record, the group is now working with Mike D. of the Beastie Boys, who Carothers calls “absolutely one of our idols.”

“It’s been pretty amazing,” he said.

They’ve tracked a slew of songs so far, but still have “quite a bit to do.” A release date has yet to be set for the new record.

“We write during the week and play shows on the weekend,” Carothers said. “Not a bad year.”

‘A SERIES OF BAD DECISIONS”

Back to the SXSW shows the band performed last month. In an interview posted on News24.com, Carothers called the shows a “crazy run. You don’t sleep, you drink obscene amounts, you do everything wrong and make a series of bad decisions.”

One upgrade of now being the headliner rather than the opening act, is that they don’t have to carry quite as much gear to each show. Carothers called the most recent Austin experience “a little easier” than in year’s past.

“The worst (SXSW event) we ever did was six shows in one day,” Carothers said. “The streets are locked off so you’re lugging your gear down the sidewalk … (But) everyone has to do it, paying your dues, it’s how being in band goes.”

Lately the band has been sprinkling a few cover songs from bands like Ghostface Killah, Oasis, Pink Floyd and the Beatles into their set. Whether or not we’ll hear any of those at Friday night’s show is anyone’s guess, but Carothers did promise this:

“We love to play music,” he said. “We hope that that energy will translate from the stage. You can expect us to have more fun than anyone.”


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