People are just now getting to be up and arms about a band that I knew a decade ago was going to be huge. That band is known as Portugal.The Man. The very first album I heard back when I was studying for my Master's at Johns Hopkins University, which was sent to me by a publicist that has been in the business for a good while, and most of the things she handles has a pretty good vibe to me; her name is Heidi Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald, and she has handled everyone from Tom Petty to being instrumental when System of a Down first broke out on the scene.
When she would send me stuff, I would take a listen, as her taste in what she covered was similar to the stuff I found interesting. So, when she sent over the first album of Portugal.The Man, I put it in, and I instantly downloaded it onto my iPod, which was the new big thing a little more than a decade ago. For some reason, that album just spoke to me, as it was different; it stood out.
I had interviewed them for that first album, and I don't even know where that interview has disappeared to over the years. I'm pretty sure it's in one of the first few issues of Thorisaz Views somewhere. At the time, they were just starting out, so I had to ask them the typical standard questions about influence, as they didn't have big name things under their belt as of yet.
I remember hearing his adventures growing up in Alaska, being in an igloo with only a couple records to choose from, which molded his style of music to being a little different, a little more old school, with those more melodic beats, as opposed to some thrash or hardcore with dropping bass lines. Sometimes, it's having that different influence that breaks the standard mold of what everyone else is doing. When you don't have access to the same stuff, you're going to come up with different things, which is what this young kid did.
When I was finally able to cover the band in Michigan, I had been playing the album on repeat, and I was super excited to go to the all ages show. However, I didn't realize exactly just how young the guys were. Let's put it this way: my friend turned to me at the show and said, "I feel as if I'm watching all my kids' friends and not getting paid."
We were the old chicks of the show, which may have been a little awkward back then, but it didn't stop me from having a good time enjoying the music. There were so many guys on stage, I remember it was hard to take pictures, as I was constantly trying to dodge around other band members in attempt to get a money shot. The night wound up being pretty cool actually, as we randomly found a hay ride in the middle of the city, and we had a guy wedge himself into the back of my Crossfire, which had just come out at that time, which was a pretty hilarious thing back then, too.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and Portugal.The Man breaks onto mainstream radio with a hit that is now being used in commercials on TV. I can still hear that signature style that drew me in more than a decade ago, but there's a little more of a pop sound than he had before. Either way, I still dig it, and if you haven't actually taken the time to listen to a full album, then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out, as it is a refreshing change to a lot of the other stuff that's out there.
This is not a band that is making music just to be the next big thing. In my mind, they've been underestimated for more than a decade, and I'm extremely happy to see them finally get recognized for the talent they have. These guys have grown into their sound, honed their skills and talents, and the result is just now being appreciated by the masses, just as I knew it would be a decade ago.
Visit www.portugaltheman.com. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz.