After a handful of consistently diverse indie albums that found them directly or tangentially referencing The Beatles, Radiohead and Brian Eno, Portugal. The Man got the call from the big leagues and delivered a world-class major-label debut with 2011's glam-charged In the Mountain in the Cloud, the group’s first for Atlantic.
The Alaska-raised/Oregon-based band had maintained a steady album-per-year pace until last year, but the theft of its equipment (members eventually recovered most of it) and the subsequent departures of longtime drummer Jason Sechrist and keyboardist Ryan Neighbors (ultimately replaced by Kane Ritchotte and Kyle O'Quin, respectively) conspired to keep P.TM out of the studio.
The band had road-tested new material and was finally ready to get started on a new album in El Paso, Texas, when Atlantic CEO Craig Kallman asked P.TM to fly to New York to meet with producer extraordinaire Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton. Their combined efforts resulted in Evil Friends, a clattering garage-fueled hybrid of Plastic Ono Band experimentalism and a Black Keys head rush that could be the quintet's breakthrough album.
While P.TM vocalist/guitarist John Baldwin Gourley readily admits to a certain degree of creative restlessness in P.TM's catalog, he takes pride in the band's ability to weave its unique sonic fingerprint into each new recording. From his perspective, Evil Friends possesses an immediacy that mirrors P.TM's road persona.
"I feel like every record we make we try to do something new and different, but it always ends up being a mixture of everything we've done in the past with some new additions," Gourley says. "Evil Friends, to me, really represents what the band is live, a lot more than we have in the past. It's a little more to the point and it's a lot more honest in the lyrics in what we've been going through and what we've always gone through."
PORTUGAL. THE MAN plays with Skaters Friday, June 14 at Bogart's in Corryville. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.