Portugal. The Man: From the Underground to the Mainstream


MC: How settled is the band now?

Gourley: I feel like the band is what it is. It’s still open. If somebody wants to stay home, they can. That being said, this lineup is great. Eric Howk––we grew up playing music with him. Zachary (Scott Carothers) and Eric played in their first band together. Zac taught me how to play bass, and all the Minor Threat songs. Rage Against the Machine basslines. We’ve all been around each other throughout this. It’s been rad, being around him for all this time, because we know that we played Cannibal Corpse, or Metallica, or Slayer in high school, and we can pull out any of those riffs live. We can go back to that stuff. It’s a lot of fun.

MC: You’ve released eight albums in 11 years, which is impressively prolific. How has sound evolved in that time?

Gourley: If you look at the history of the band, it was almost like we were going to school, in the sense that we just wanted to tour as much as possible, and put out as much music as possible. We were putting out music for the sake of learning. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but I was really learning to play guitar as we were going. I will play the way some people play piano or type––with two fingers.

   I really feel like, when we signed to Atlantic, that was when we put out our first album. I know a lot of people hate that I say that, especially older fans, but that’s really what we were working toward. We were young and playing music was just fun. It was crazy that we had this opportunity in the first place. Getting a pizza after the show, and gas money? That’s totally fine.

But I feel like we’re always going to make different albums when we go into the studio, just because I don’t really like repeating myself. I don’t like the monotony of that. You have so many bands who fall into that world of, I’m just a rock band. I’m just a hip-hop artist. That’s what I like about A$AP Rocky. He will sing on a track, rap on the next. It can be super-hardcore or pulled back and be more soul/R&B. You never want to be pigeon-holed or stuck writing the same song over and over again, trying to replicate that success.

MC: Your early albums were with Fearless and then Equal Vision Records, both punk labels, though Fearless has more of a pop-punk vibe while Equal Vision is generally known for hardcore… Did your sound change with the label at all?

Gourley: Not necessarily. There are things that come along with all of that. Scenes and built-in fanbases that come along with the labels. Honestly, they were just good friends of ours. They were people that we knew. We were playing the bar shows, but also with hardcore bands and pop-punk bands. At the end of the day, we just wanted to get better at playing music. I like the idea of just getting in front of an audience that is unfamiliar with your music. That’s the ultimate test. When signing to labels, it just came down to, “I like this guy.”

MC: Do you miss anything about the indie punk days?

Gourley: We’re the same dipshits we were. I could honestly tell you, had we had a song like “Feel it Still” on the first album take off the way it did and the way it has, I’d probably be a different person today. But the fact that we worked for so long, which is totally indifferent to what everybody else is doing, it helped us maintain what we do and who we are. We don’t care what you think. We’re going to keep doing what we do. I think that’s been really fun.

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