Interview Portugal. The Man: ‘We’ve Never Captured Such Amazing Sounds’

We catch up with the band to talk about their new LP.

Freshly signed to Atlantic records and with a new album on the cards, things are looking up for Portugal. The Man after a rather unfortunate start to the year that resulted in the majority of their gear being stolen. With a lot of it safely back with it’s rightful owners, DIY catches up with the band to talk about the release of their sixth LP ‘In The Mountain, In The Clouds’ due next month, their new label and creating a more ‘mature’ sound.

You’re about to release your sixth studio album ‘In The Mountain, In The Cloud’. What can listeners expect from the release?
This time around we had more focus on tone, structures and quality effects on these new songs. We had the chance to work with producer John Hill who has great ears and a good sense of time. We tried to bring a touch of our past into the material with help from our strings player Phil Peterson, and last but not least, the final mix was crafted by Andy Wallace who really gave the album an amazing sound. We we’re wowed by his sense of musicality on all our songs.

Did you learn anything during the writing/recording process that you wish you’d known during working on your previous releases?
We had lots of problems in the beginning of the recording. It became a hard process and we were not getting songs to sound how we wanted them to. We had a communication breakdown. Plus we also had to keep to our tour schedule and head into studios in between tours. Once we came back up to Seattle to work in a studio with our old friend and producer Casey Bates we got back into the game and comfortable. At that point we knocked out songs and finished them.

How does ‘In The Mountain, In The Cloud’ progress in comparison to your earlier works?
Sonically, we have never captured such amazing sounds. It’s a great mix that is enjoyable whether on headphones or a small stereo. The imaging is spot on. Song writing wise, the material is great stories of our experience together over the last year including more Alaskan stories.

You’ve previously said that you wanted to go for a more ‘mature’ sound with the record. How did you go about trying to achieve that? And how do you think younger audiences will react?
Well, the song writing improved and so did the tones. It took us around nine months to track this recording as well. This album was in the hands of a mature sound engineer, Andy Wallace, and he has gifted ears. I think our younger fans will still enjoy the album because there is plenty of sing-a-long parts and cool sounding synthesisers.

The record is your first release through Atlantic, how has being with Atlantic changed things for the band? Are you comfortable in your new home?
We are very happy with them. We have met so many good people on their staff through out the world. We made a great partnership working through Atlantic; they are simply very smart musical people and we are honoured to be a part of their artist roster. The support has been very nice this first year.

You have a short run of dates in the UK in November, what can fans of the band expect during those performances?
We are in the process of some pretty heavy practicing every day. We added our 5th member Noah to the group and he is a great musician to play with. We also have a good friend of ours developing a new light show and stage design for us. It’s going to be bigger and well thought out from the band.

With such an extensive back catalogue, how do you work out the weighting of the live show sets?
Well, that’s one thing we do pretty well. You have to figure out a cool way for all your old material to be reborn through new jams, or by taking sections of older songs and putting them together. That creates new parts that are fun and exciting and then there’s always doing the occasional cover here and there.

Have you worked out how new material will fit into the show? Are there any tracks you’re especially looking forward to playing?
I think we are shooting for doing almost every song. We surely can play them all, it’s just how do we make an great set that’s not linear. We’re not a ‘let’s play the whole album through from start to finish’ type of band. We have too many influences to let us not do such things. Songs we’re excited for…well, they’re all developing in their own good time. Some come quickly and some have taken months to feel right. We are big fans of ‘All Your Light’ live right now.

You’ve recently played a secret show at the Old Blue Last. What do you like about secret shows and do you have any other unconventional gigs planned?
Just one planned. We’re always into this idea, and we enjoy that place too. Sometimes it’s tricky these days though because we are kinda gear heads and stages in this case are pretty small. We often make sets up at the last minute so you never know what we’ll need to grab and play on. We might do a couple of acoustic things though.

Recently your band and trailer got stolen alongside a lot of equipment. Using the power of social media, you managed to recover a lot of the missing items. How has the band recovered from this event? What is your response to the claims that social media should be banned following the London riots earlier this year and the use of social media to instigate them and spread information/panic?
We managed to get back about 75% of our stage show, although 5 of our vintage guitars and 3 keyboards were never found. Those were the most priceless items to us. We’re very happy and consider ourselves very lucky to have this much returned! The news, Twitter, and internet sites helped us so much; our equipment became so hot that someone had to have seen something and we are simply amazed by this, and so thankful. We’ve been in the process of replacing the lost items over this last few weeks and it was stressful because it was eating into our practice time for the upcoming shows. As for the London riots, it’s sad when things get used as a tool for bad situations, I know we have used these sites and it went for a positive result.

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
We are going to tour until the Holidays come and we will see from there. Most likely we will start the beginnings of a new album. Demos in from John via Alaska where he likes to write when times are truly free for him.

‘In The Mountain, In The Cloud’ will be released on 10th October via Atlantic Records.

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