Yeah. I'm going there. I'm putting Portugal. The Man in the same artistic category as Ziggy Stardust. And if that sounds too bold or if you don't believe me, put on your favorite headphones and listen to this live set from Bonnaroo 2013. Then tell me I'm wrong.
You got goosebumps listening to that last song. Didn't you? This band is the real deal. In so many ways.
All four tracks heard on the Hay Bale Sessions were from the latest album "Evil Friends." The album was released on June 4, 2013 and was the band's 7th full length album; their second since being signed to Atlantic. More importantly, this was their first time working with producer Brian Burton — better known as Danger Mouse and famous for his work with with Gnarls Barkley, the Gorillaz, The Black Keys & Jack White.
According to Rich Holtzman, the band's manager, "we had a list of the producers we wanted to work with. It was very short and the list has been around for years. Danger Mouse has always been on the top of that list. The band was to record on their own but we kept looking for the opportunities. When it presented itself, we had the chance to grab it or not. If Danger Mouse had not been on a list of ours for years, the band would probably have continued to just do their own recording."
Rich then continued to shed light on the partnership. "John [the lead singer] had developed as a songwriter to the point that his skills and awareness of what he wanted and how to get there had fully developed. Had he recorded with Danger Mouse a few years ago, he probably would not have been as prepared. But now he was and he was confident in what he knew. This is clearly the band's best album, coincidentally it also has the most commercial potential. You could not ask for more. Danger Mouse did a great job of pushing them to be as good as they could be and challenging them to do better and not settling."
Personally, I'm glad the band teamed up with Danger Mouse and I love how he helped polish their sound and I really like that his name lends a certain level of credibilty and exposure to the band. Like most journalists, I probably wouldn't be writing this piece if I couldn't use the Danger Mouse hook but in no way shape or form should he be the center of the story. Let alone the end of it. This band has worked too hard and too smart for that. They've built a loyal and devoted following over the years. They've toured relentlessly and they've placed their fans above everything else. They've precisly cultivated that great cult-following feel. Me, I love being a Portugal. The Man fan. I feel like I'm part of a very exclusive club. And that's the real reason that I wanted to run this feature on Head-Fi. I wanted all of you to have that same feeling; to be part of the group. That's what this post is really about. It's an invitation.
So with that, I want to leave you with an excerpt from an article I read a few years ago about the band. This was it for me. They had a fan for life after I heard this.
"The relationship we developed with our audience was always paramount. Our belief is not that they were “fans” but rather they were people who just had the same taste in music as we did. The usual approach by bands of staying backstage with a brief appearance before or after their set at the merch table would not work. We hung out in the room, with everyone else, watching the other bands, grabbing a beer. You did not need to complete a transaction to hang with the band. Our records were always reasonably priced; we put a real effort into making great packages, even at the cost of margin. While we did not give away our music for free we did encourage P2P and torrenting. Our merch was unique; rarely did it even have the band’s name on it. We knew our fans by name--they had our cell phone numbers and email addresses. There was no separation.... We never started a street team. We thought it was ridiculous and a waste of time... We wrote letters. We made phone calls. We randomly mailed out gifts to people on the mailing list. We gave away music. We never stopped. When we completed a record we invited kids to hang out at our van to hear it on headphones. Some kids put together a gathering at their house. I showed up and played the entire new record. I also showed a 90-minute live movie that 2 years later still has not been seen by anyone but those people who attended. We wanted to treat them special." Keep on reading more here.
Mike Dias is a huge fan of music, of telling stories, and of laughing. And lucky for him, he’s somehow managed to make somewhat of living from this. He designs funny and creative apps for the iPhone. He is the music supervisor for Ultimate Ears and he writes about music and the music industry. He’s always happy to talk about artists, apps, and in-ears so feel free to reach out about any of those topics. Email him directly.