Monday, May 27, 2024

Rebel Just for Kicks: Portugal. The Man rocks The Anthem, ‘one of the raddest venues in the country’ – WTOP News

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The Grammy-winning band Portugal. The Man performs live at The Anthem in D.C. on Saturday night.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Portugal. The Man at The Anthem (Part 1)

Do you consider yourself a rebel just for kicks? Did you ever feel that way? Or do you feel it still?

The Grammy-winning band Portugal. The Man performs live at The Anthem in D.C. on Saturday night.

“It’s kind of one of the raddest venues in the country, honestly,” founder and frontman John Gourley told WTOP. “That’s kind of a stop that every band looks forward to is playing 9:30 Club, The Anthem, just hitting these shows, that’s always the highlight of everybody’s tour. It’s funny how many Anthem and 9:30 Club shirts and hoodies you see among crew members as you travel around at festivals. Everybody’s repping.”

Born in Willow, Alaska, in 1984, Gourley grew up in a remote area with dog-sledding parents.

“They ran the Iditarod sled-dog race and the Yukon Quest,” Gourley said. “It felt normal to me. It’s a lot like growing up on a farm. There are a lot of sleep habits that are lifelong to me. I’m a really light sleeper because you’re used to listening for moose getting into the dogs, hearing what’s happening at night. Honestly, dude, I didn’t realize people slept past 6 in the morning until [later]. In D.C. we have a ton of Alaskan friends coming.”

He grew up playing hockey and listening to his parents’ Motown records with fond memories of Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney, Frankie Valli, The Beatles and The Marvelettes. His own coming-of-age music touchstones in the ’90s were Oasis, Nirvana and Wu-Tang Clan, dropping out of school but keeping in touch with his bass-playing buddy Zachary Carothers, together forming the band Portugal. The Man in 2004.

“I knew I couldn’t do it by myself,” Gourley said. “I decided that I would get together with my friends and form this group of people, but it’s kind of a solo project at the same time. … I said, ‘I’ll pick a country to represent that it’s a singular voice in the world that represents a group of people.’ Portugal was just the furthest place from Alaska to me on the other side of the globe. … Portugal is the name, period, and he’s the man.”

After two albums on Fearless Records, they formed their own label Approaching AIRBalloons before signing with Atlantic Records. Of their nine studio albums, their biggest remains their eighth, “Woodstock” (2017), featuring the Grammy-winning song “Feel It Still,” sampling “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.

“We were like, ‘We’re up against ‘Despacito’ by Justin Bieber, we’re not going to win,’ but we’re trying to write this little speech,” Gourley said. “I rewrote the speech right before we walked out: ‘We have to thank those kids out in [Alaska]. That’s the reason I made this music because I grew up in these small villages and towns isolated. It made me feel like I was part of something when I would hear these songs made in Detroit and D.C.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Portugal. The Man at The Anthem (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on the podcast below:

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