Portugal. The Man is an electronic snow flurry of funk, R&B, and some ’70s rock. The majority of the band hails from our frozen neighbor to the north and would more accurately be thought of as Alaska. The Men.
After mushing down to Portland in hopes of touring and recording, bandmates John Gourley, Wes Hubbard, Zach Carothers and Jesse Cunningham teamed up with Oregon native, Jason Sechrist, of Konami Defense System.
From there, everything began falling into place. Portugal. The Man’s debut album “Waiter: You Vultures!” will be released Jan. 24 on Fearless Records.
The new album doesn’t feature heartbroken wails, Ben Gibbard, or fake accents. In fact, Portugal. The Man managed to evade the generic indie-blizzard entirely and produce a unique collection of complex melodies and astonishingly high-pitched vocals that form an “aurora borealis of electronic sound.”
The band’s lyrics are mature and rare in today’s emo-cultured musical youth. Gourley said “[the lyrics have] a lot of social commentary, things I think about lyrically, a lot of politics and religion stuff, but I hate to offend people.”
Track by track the album crescendos in excitement until reaching its peak with a Mars Volta-esque finale. “Waiter: You Vultures!” is a melodic and chaotic balance that is worth a listen.
The self-proclaimed “socially awkward” Gourley took time off from reading Dylan, packing the tour bus and drooling over Best Buy ads to talk about the band and their upcoming debut.
Diversions: How did your band come to be?
John Gourley: We started in Alaska; it was something that Wes and I had worked on five years ago. We wanted something with beats, piano, guitar and bass where we programmed everything. It’s been a great group project.
D: How would you describe your sound?
JG: It pretty groove-based and it’s big on rhythm. It’s a movement thing for us, but we’re just a rock band really.
D: Who are your influences?
JG: Our music is based on more visuals than sound. It’s things we see or rhythms and grooves based on feelings.
D: How does your music stand out?
JG: We’re making music not because we like a band, but because we’re proud of what we do. We did what we set out to do for this record, we’re doing what we want to do and that’s the big thing.
D: How would you describe your shows?
JG: Our first show since our album and since I started playing guitar was the most stressful time of my life. My hands were cramped but it was st ill a lot of fun.
D: What have you been listening to lately?
JG: I was up in Alaska working with my dad and brother. Where we work we listen to worker music. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival those are the best example of where we come from musically.
D: If you could put together a mega-band who would be in it?
JG: John Foggerty, he is his own mega-band.
D: If aliens came down from a distant galaxy and gave you an alien assistant that would do any two tasks for you, what would you force it to undertake?
JG: Let’s just say the “Star Trek” DVD series is really expensive, so I’d forfeit the other option just for a discount hook-up at Best Buy. That’s all we really want.
If you wish to see these Trekkies, they will be sailing into Portland on Jan. 27 for their show at the Loveland.