An album a year is quite a task, but when each album brings something new to the table, and each one having its own stellar sound, it's crazy to think that Portugal. The Man are already on their fourth. While out on tour supporting The Satanic Satanist, vocalist/guitarist John Gourley took time out to do an e-mailer for us, and he discusses his influences, fans, and insane packaging.
The last time we talked, you seemed really adamant about making an album like The Beatles' Abbey Road. How close do you think you got to do doing that this time?
Well, coming off of Censored Colors I actually wanted to avoid it to an extent. We had already pushed for that with the second half of that album by blending songs and pairing moods and parts. Censored Colors more than anything gave me a better understanding of our songwriting as well as a slight confidence boost in writing with major scales as opposed to minors. With The Satanic Satanist I really wanted to focus that and really write something with substance, something that had really shaped me and, as always, something that represented where I come from and the communities we were raised in. It has brought us closer to the song. The basics of everything and gave me a much bigger respect for what it is to pick and choose and really perfect each piece. There is a definite science and formula to songwriting that you almost have to remove yourself from for it to really make sense. The Beatles did that in the most massive ways. I'm not sure if that makes sense...
There also is a Motown and Stax Records feel to the album. Explanation?
Oldies radio. That is all we had growing up. It was family, and it was pure happiness. I wouldn't say I had any real specifics in mind while writing. It is just what happens when you put a groove behind a song and really have fun with it. It's all about the movement.
The Satanic Satanist has a stronger cohesive vibe than the band's last album, Censored Colors, which was the best flowing piece of work in the band's catalog thus far. Did the songs shape up that way, or were they created separate, or did the flow of the album come after the track listing was finalized?
There was always a finished piece in mind. The idea was to write a "pop" album in every sense. Be sure of lyrical and subject flow from song to song and to maintain the same sonically. I really hate that "pop" has such a bad rap, but I do see where it comes from. It is the science. It's the formula. The lack of soul. As I mentioned earlier, the idea was to forget the formula and do what felt best and write about what we know. That is where the Beatles had it made. They really lived it no matter how sappy or how dark.... I also really hate talking about the Beatles right now with that Rock Band shit being out. I hear them everywhere. I also hate that I really love the remastered versions. They sound amazing.
Who had the idea of The Majestic Majesty? Was there just rollover studio time, or did you feel that those songs deserved a strip down feel? In all honesty, I'd like to see an acoustic version of the entire P.TM catalog.
Our manager had been talking about doing that for a long time. We have been doing acoustic videos with Graham Baclagon for the past 3 albums and have plans to continue on into the future of the band. It really just made sense. My favorite part of the Majestic Majesty is that we honestly just went in and did it. We booked time with Casey Bates and spent a few hours there just jamming it out. We had never played them acoustic, or electric for that matter, together.
Could we see a compilation of all the band's live acoustic videos in the future, especially all the songs shot in Europe for Censored Colors?
We are always planning ahead. I'm sure Rich (manager) has plenty of ideas on that, but he is all about patience. Keeping me grounded on all that when I constantly want to record and release. It will take some time. How much better would it be in three years with four more albums worth done in the same style? Could be cool.
With the band's impressive vinyl catalog, both domestic and import, can we expect to see a limited pressing of The Majestic Majesty?
There are no plans at the moment for that. May be another thing for the distant future. I assume we will do a few more and possibly do a series for it or package them all together. Given pace continues, we will have plenty to work with down the road.
The tangible design for the record is incredible. Was this something you've been itching to do because of how well the packaging for Censored Colors came out? Where did the inspiration come from to put it together, or was it directly related to your art?
The idea had been around for a while and was something I have been throwing at Austin Sellers for the past few albums. It was always just so out of reach financially. We really had to sit down and find ways to cut corners and make it work. Austin deserves all the credit for that. I just had an idea but he is the one who executed that plan. He is a great partner in all of this and he and I work great together.
Last month you gave away the raw files to the artwork of the album and told people to come up with their own works, a remix if you will. What has been the response to this? Anything inspire you yet, or simply blew you away?
Always. I really love to see what others would do and it has had a great response. Good work!
Your words about the leak of TSS were great. After posting them, was there any personal backlash toward you or the band, or was it overwhelmingly positive?
The people that support this band are of the best, and I feel like they truly understand why we do this and that we love music in every way. In the end there really can't be a backlash. It is our personal feelings and choices and opinions on the subject. No matter what this band does it will always be for the greater good of the band and we choose to share ourselves with everyone and anyone who cares to be a part of this. Music is my life. It is what I live for and you can expect that I will personally do what is best for this band and my friends and the people around us. I truly appreciate all we have been given and understand how these things come off when bands speak out. Thank you all. You are so very appreciated.
The limited deluxe pre-order sold out though. Does that create a warm feeling for the band to know there exist at least 150 die-hard fans out there?
It is amazing and they are very fun to put together. It is something limited to those who really want them. I felt bad we made so few, due to the quick response, but these things are so much better to keep small. Really great.
The band's live shows are incredible. Can we expect some more covers for the upcoming tour? Thanks for the "Helter Skelter" cover in New Orleans by the way.
First of all, thank you! Very kind words. We have been doing "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie as well as a couple other surprises. Little reference points here and there, and fun for us to play. Some spaced out jams as well. We just do what we do.
Anything else you'd like to say to the readers of AP.net? Bands to watch out for?
You have all done so much for us and have always been there. Thank you for that. Drug Rug is amazing, listen to them. Hello Electric is amazing, listen to them. Fever Ray, The Flaming Lips, Menomena... The Flaming Lips are quickly becoming my favorite band of all time. If it weren't for Pink Floyd and The Beatles they would be a sure bet. Just fun.