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Portugal. The Man stopped by the WERS studios for an exclusive live set before their weekend at the first Boston Calling festival this weekend. The Alaskan quintet is eagerly anticipating the release of their seventh full length album, Evil Friends, due out June 4th.
The American rock band, fronted by John Gourley, was sparked by a friendship between Gourley and bandmate Zach Carothers when they attended high school together in Wasilla, Alaska. After joining up with Kyle O’Quin, Noah Gersh, and Kane Ritchotte, the group relocated to Portland, Oregon.
Since their formation, Portugal. The Man has released six previous albums on Fearless and Equal Vision Records. In 2010 the group resigned to Atlantic Records to make Evil Friends. Along with a new label backing them, Portugal. The Man picked up a new producer as well – the famed Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, The Black Keys).
Gourley and Ritchotte said that working with Danger Mouse was a seamless and collaborative process. “When you play in a rock band, you have to let things go and flow, though sometimes you disagree and have to say, ‘No, I don’t like that,’” Ritchotte said.
“Working with Brian, we’ve been fans of stuff he’s worked on before I even knew he had a part in it,” Ritchotte continued. “He’s totally versatile, all of the bands he’s worked with sound different. Brian isn’t even a very polished producer but this album with us is very raw, even for him.”
The band gave WERS listeners a preview of some of that rawness that Ritchotte was talking about during their live set. Featured was a track off of Evil Friends, “Sea of Air”. The track opens completely stripped down with Gourley’s naked vocals, soon joined by light foot stomping and tambourine.
Also featured during the band’s live set was the title track, “Evil Friends”, and the psychedelic single you’ve been hearing on 88.9, “Purple Yellow Red & Blue.”
Gourley and Ritchotte said that fans can expect a fun cover during tomorrow’s set at Boston Calling. “This is the only band I’ve played in that isn’t afraid of doing covers, especially at this level. I feel like people think it sheds light on their influences and they don’t want the audience to draw too many comparisons,” Ritchotte said. “But the thing that seems to be universal amongst us is to not be ashamed of those who influence us because the classic stuff works for everyone, for a reason.”
With a new album comes new music videos and sometimes for Portugal. The Man – those come in the form of short films. Gourley said that fans can expect another short film to come with this new album, this time for a track called “Modern Jesus”.
“I think it’s so important to have a visual to go with the music even if it’s a complete contrast. Like with Sleep Forever, what happens in the video is nothing like what the song is about. It sheds some light on where we come from and what we’re about,” Gourley said.
Keep your eyes out for Evil Friends, coming out on June 4th.