Vail: A party with Portugal
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado “-It’s hard to believe that a band can walk into a recording studio without any songs written and two weeks later have a finished product worth listening to, but that’s just how Portugal. The Man rolls. When they cut their 2008 release, “Censored Colors,” they didn’t have any songs in the bin, nor any real idea what they would record.
“That whole recording session was the most intense thing I think we’ve ever had to do,” said John Baldwin Guorley, lead vocalist and guitar player for Portugal. The Man, during a phone interview from the band’s practice space in Portland.
At one point Gourley realized the clock was ticking on the project and said “Holy shit, if we got to have 15 tracks on the record we have to write a song a night and record a song every day.”
The end result was “Censored Colors,” a sweeping, beautiful album full of layered instrumentation and haunting vocals that sounds tightly structured. The album is sprinkled throughout with electro-folk, acoustic gems and indie-arthouse rock that sounds surprisingly cohesive given the story behind it.
“The record came out the way it was planned to, there was just no planning to it,” Gourley said.
Portugal. The Man will play a double-billed show with Denver indie-rockers Born In The Flood at the Sandbar in West Vail tonight. While Born In The Flood recently rocked the Sandbar, this is Portugal’s first appearance there and Dick Dime said the crowd should expect nothing but originality from the band.
“I’m glad that they are coming through Vail now before they are as big as there contemporaries, Kings of Leon and The Flaming Lips,” said Dime, Sandbar promoter. “Here is a band that blasts class, sophistication and volume. They are so original, it’s crazy.”
Obviously influenced by the Beatles ” who Gourley said has shaped every band in some way ” he also surprisingly cited hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan as another big factor in his love of music, an interesting contrast in taste that led to the formation of Portugal.
“That was the reason this band started, the idea of pairing those two ideas. (But) it’s gone in a completely different direction than it was thought to be in the beginning,” Gourley said.
The band’s name, though a bit intriguing, came from the same thinking that went into concepts like David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” character and The Beatle’s “Sgt. Pepper” album ” a kind of alter ego to define them.
“We decided to name the band after a country because a country is individual as far as the world goes with its own voice and it’s a group of people making up that one individual voice. We randomly picked Portugal and, in the end, decided it needs to be stated that he’s the man,” Gourley explained.
But what about the period inserted awkwardly in the name?
“The band’s name is Portugal and The Man just states that it’s a person. I’m sure we could have figured out a better way to do that looking back on it now. I know it’s obnoxious,” Gourley said.
It doesn’t matter. Portugal. The Man is on a hot streak. They’ve received rave reviews from music publications like Filter and Alternative Press and just nailed a spot at the annual Bonnaroo music festival ” the end all, be all of music festivals.
“I’m so excited for that. Beastie Boys are playing, which is so cool. Al Green and Snoop Dogg. It’s pretty amazing … it’s something we always wanted to do and holy shit, the fact that it’s Bonnaroo, I mean out of all of them, that’s as cool as it gets. We’re just really excited to be a part of it,” Gourley said.
The band’s new album is slated for release this summer, and because they had heavy hitting producers Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole) and Adam Taylor (The Lemonheads, The Dresden Dolls) and Anthony Saffery of Cornershop helping them in the studio, this time around Gourley said they went into the studio a little more prepared than last time.
“Because we were working with them, I went into this serious panic mode … So I sat down and really practiced and wrote a bunch of songs for this album,” Gourley said.
Charlie Owen is a freelance writer based in Vail. E-mail comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Portugal. The Man with opening act Born In The Flood.
When: Tonight beginning at 10 p.m.
Where: Sandbar Sports Grill in West Vail.
Cost: $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
More information: Call 970-476-4314 or visit http://www.sandbarvail.com.