Portugal. The Man recently stopped by the KROQ Sound Space for an interview with frontman John Gourley and special acoustic performance.
LISTEN NOW: John Gourley of Portugal. The Man with Kevan Kenney
After performing a stripped down set, band frontman and songwriter John Gourley spoke with Kevan Kenney, to hint at what their newest album has in store for fans and new listeners alike - and it sounds promising. Gourley revealed that the band took influence from all those around them, including some new collaborators, to create Chris Black Changed My Life. Musicians like Asa Taccone and Black Thought of The Roots could simply, “create fun and find something when there is nothing,” said Gourley.
But the greatest influence on the album was the band's friends and family. Named Chris Black Changed My Life, the album directly gives tribute to their close friend and "honorary band member" Chris Black. Referring to him as the band’s “MC” or “hype” man, John recalled his friend's incredible sense of humor and energy. His presence became so important to the band that there was a “weird fracture in this friend group” following Chris’ passing. “I just realized the importance of this person and these people in our lives, and what it means to have your ‘version’ of Chris in your crew,” John said with a nostalgic smile. “The person that just makes you laugh and is stupid, but also checks you when you cross the line. And that’s something that I miss so much.”
“What I ended up writing about was just family and these connections and how much they mean to us. And how it made me really introspective, losing him.”
This familial influence continued when songwriting, as the band sought to promote a safe creative space. In fact, Gourley reveals that their single, “Dummy” was originally the brainchild of drummer Jason Sechrist as a bassline. “He never does this, he never just pops in like ‘I’ve got some music’” the lead singer and guitarist recalled. “He’s humming the baseline to me, and just the way he went about it, like ‘that might be a baseline but that’s something else.’ I’ve never heard anything like that before.” Eventually, Gourley would use an exact vocal sample of Sechrist humming to kick off the entire song. “He’s just genuinely humming this melody and it just made us smile instantly. We were like, that is ridiculous, it’s so fun and so sweet… I just started writing this song around it,” Gourley explained.
All indications point toward the success of this album. The band itself is undeniably proud of Chris Black Changed My Life, and specifically, Gourley. “This is our best album,” he said, beaming with pride. “I’ve never walked into a practice space and played something for the first time and been like, I kinda just want to play the record.” The album has set a new era for the band’s outlook and creative goals, and they seem keen on developing whatever magic they discovered. Gourley continued, “I just want to set a precedent for not doing the same thing again. It felt really amazing… and I think this record has those songs. These songs feel so great and emotional, and so represent my friends and family as a group. I’m really excited to get out and play some music.”
Check out the full interview above and watch Portugal. The Man perform a stripped down acoustic set, including a slowed version of their worldwide hit, “Feel It Still.”