Yeah, okay, Portugal. The Man loves punctuation, we get it. With former members of one of the few listenable screamo bands, Anatomy of a Ghost, this Portland-via-Alaska band goes to great lengths to shed their former skin and be a real band with their debut album Waiter: You Vultures! And they succeed, Waiter is an excellent collection of genreless songs, riddled with slinky prog-ish jams that share the vocal delivery and confidence of Mars Volta, just sans the 'fros and noodling guitarsterbation. Singer/guitarist John Gourley talks about the change of bands, Alaska, and dogs with tiny barrels of alcohol around their necks.
Portugal. The Man plays Loveland on Fri Jan 27
Was the success of Anatomy of a Ghost a double-edged sword for Portugal? As in, you already had a built-in fan base for your new band, but at the same time, is it hard to gain respect for Portugal as an indie band, since its roots are based in screamo?
Well, I could see where it might come off that way, but sound wise, Anatomy of a Ghost was just a product of five different views coming together. Plus, Anatomy always did its own tours, (with the exception of one or two), always took out friends, and did what we could to support the music scenes in Portland and Alaska. In that aspect the band was pretty "indie" in itself.
You guys made a lot of sacrifices to make this record (moving back from Alaska, being homeless). Were there ever times where you questioned if it was worth it?
Definitely. Actually, right before this record was picked up there were some pretty intense debates on that. I mean, we would always be playing together and touring, but the thought was starting to lean toward the band being a side to our lives instead of the other way around.
Sorry, but I have to ask you about the Iditarod. So both your parents competed in it? Did either come close to winning it?
My parents are insane for doing that; it's very rugged for sure. It is a thousand-mile dog race across one of the most desolate places on earth, so neither came very close to winning. Eighteenth place was the closest I can recall. To them it was more of an adventure, they had no plans of winning, but they did come back with some very good stories.
This has nothing to do with anything, but in Alaska did you ever see those rescue Saint Bernards with the barrels of alcohol around their necks? Or is that just in the Alps? Or in cartoons?
Yeah. Every few days the snow rolls down the mountains and buries the towns. It's pretty rough but those old boys come dig you out if you happened to miss the siren. Everyone has had to be helped out one time or another.