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Interviews & Features

Portugal. The Man

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: August 2009

Photo by  Emily Ibarra

Photo by Emily Ibarra

With their fourth album The Satanic Satanist released last month, Alaska's Portual. The Man is on the tail end of their longest tour yet. There's always a question as to just where in the musical spectrum they fit in, but their fourth album is, without a doubt, their best yet. It's reached the top 100 list in the US, and was released to rave reviews in Europe. With two California shows left, (in Santa Cruz and at Outsidelands Festival in San Francisco), the four of them were kind enough to take some time and talk to Synthesis about their latest tour, fourth album, and breaking the language barrier in Germany.

PTM just released it's latest album worldwide, The Santanic Satanist. How does this album show your progression as a band?

This new record has a strong focus on songs. The songs came first and then the strange textures, sounds, and samples came later. The idea was just to make a short and focused record. Traditional song structures and a pop sensibility. I think getting to the point where you are able to step outside of what you have done before and make a 35 minute pop record is progression in itself. We put ourselves in a recording situation we had not been in before and it changed our mentality. We actually knew the songs before we went into the studio, which turned out to be extremely helpful for us all. The progress just comes in doing something different than previous records, regardless of what that may be. Its still us, We are still playing hard as we can live, sweating for the greater good. We are learning how to be more vocal these days, and that's important to us.

How did this tour compare to the other European tours you've done?

Photo by  Emily Ibarra

Photo by Emily Ibarra

Well first off it was the longest one we have ever done before. We rented a van and a backline and drove ourselves as opposed to having a German speaking tour manager. We decided we wanted to see how it would go if we just went for it. It actually proved not difficult at all. Aside from long drives there was really no language barrier that was too difficult to deal with and it was a really great and close time for all of us. It was also the first time we played festivals over here and that was just an unbelievable time for us. We gotthe opportunity to play with some amazing bands. Festivals are just such a different type of world than standard club shows. I love both, but it was great to experience the festivals.

Were there any noteworthy events or setbacks while touring?

Well I would say the biggest setback was Ian (tour manager) trying to order McDonald's in drive thru. He ordered a nine piece chicken nugget and as you may know, nein means no in German. Ian and the cashier ended up going back and forth between her asking a question about the nuggets ( if he wanted a soda or fries), and Ian in a panic shouting "nine!". It led to a lot of confusion but was one of the greatest things I have ever seen. It ended up working in the end but damn it was awesome.

You all got to opportunity to play in a multitude of new venues on this tour. Were there any that particularly stood out?

Oh man, we played this show in Zurich, Switzerland on a lake. I believe it was called Rot De Fabrik. It was amazing. It was a hot day and the water was a great temperature. Everyone who was working there was awesome. It was just a great show. There was also a multitude of naked man swimming and laying in thegrass while we were doing an interview. I won't say that was awesome, but pretty funny. Definitely a venue we will try to play at again. I think the others would also agree that the festival circuit was a treat, Although very hectic and sweaty and muddy. It was so random to be able to play and then run over to catch one of your personal favorite acts! So its like a party for everyone.

What's next for PTM?

I think we all hope there is a lot to come in future. We want to continue to make records, continue to grow as musicians, and tour new places. We never want our music to feel dry and over done. We all have a similar goal of keeping it exciting and keeping it going. So I guess I am saying we aren't certain what is next, but we will keep making music as long as we possibly can.

When and where is the next tour scheduled to take place?

Starting in September we will be doing a headliner tour in the states. it will be the official tour for The Satanic Satanist. We will be playing a bunch of new stuff and we are looking forward to it.

I heard a rumor that your bassist Zach is going to be featured in the next PTM music video? What are the plans for the next video? (Director, song, featuring, etc).

We just did a video for "Do You" off our new album. We filmed it in Seattle with our buddy Ryan Rothermal who is an amazing director. Lots of killer props and lots of shots of us trying to act. It's a sci-fi, satanic western. Awesome...

Is there anything you're all looking particularly forward to when you get home?

We're looking forward to seeing family and friends, going camping, playing basketball, playing music, and kind of just taking it easy. Home time is a much needed thing that doesn't come around too often for us but it is nice when it does.

Arielle Mullen