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Q&A with John Gourley of Portugal. The Man

Dont Feed the Animals

After recently singing to Atlantic Records, John Gourley of Portugal. The Man has less time to spend in his native Alaska, more time between recording, less time for video games, and if things work out, more time to buy new threads. Gourley (vocals/guitars) spoke with SF Station before the bands gig at the Fillmore on June 18th.

SF Station (SFS): Do moose really stop traffic in Alaska, and do they follow stoplights?

John Gourley (JG): I think that the moose are probably my favorite part of Alaska, but I dont know if I can answer that question. Ive hit two moose before, and its the worst experience ever.

SFS: What do you do if you hit one?

JG: You dont have the choice to keep going. It will just smash your vehicle. They look like they would be really nice if you were to go up to them, but its actually a really aggressive animal all the time. Dont feed moose.

SFS: How often do you go back to Alaska?

JG: I go back whenever we have substantial breaks. We dont go back all the time. I imagine Ill be building a house soon, out away from everything.

SFS: Wow, how very Alaskan of you.

JG: My family builds houses, by the way. Dont think now that Im on Atlantic Im going to go build a house.

SFS: So its been almost a year since you were here for Outside Lands. Do things feel different?

JG: The band feels like a different group altogether in a really positive way. We moved to Atlantic and had that transition. You have know idea what we said when Atlantic called: Just the fact that youre [Atlantic] calling you need to know that this is my fucking life, and I will fucking flip out if any of this gets fucked up. We had these talks, I hate to say we became friends, but we actually did.

When it came to making this album that will come out next year or whenever we finish it we really decided to sit back and take our time, which is a huge change for our band.

SFS: It seems like the move to Atlantic is a big step. Its interesting that you guys are taking a lot more time given your track record of doing an album in two weeks or maybe a month.

JG: I feel like its necessary. I didnt have any material when I went into American Ghetto.

SFS: Whatever the case was, its refreshing that youve had a good experience.

JG: The reality is, when it comes down to it, it has to be a good business decision for them as well. They didnt sign our band because they wanted a band that sells 20,000 records that just hangs out at their house and plays video games.

SFS: Wait you guys arent going to still do that? Is image becoming a bigger factor?

JG: No, unfortunately not. One of the first things that I said when I went in there was, Shit do we get a stylist? Do we get all those clothes? They were like, No, man, youre doing alright. You guys look alright now. I was like Damn it!

SFS: Im sure you can get a sponsorship from a thrift store or something.

JG: Yeah, I should have thought ahead and put on extra large T-shirt, and got a fucked up haircut and tapered jeans and been like, Whats up! Lets make moves Atlantic! Just so you know when you see me wearing a suit, I have to work for that with my own money.

Portugal. The Man perform at the Fillmore on June 18th. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 9pm.