Making New ‘Friends’

Portugal. The Man prepares to release their next album with help from producer Danger Mouse

(from Billboard Magazine, May 11, 2013)  Following the tour for their 2011 album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, Portugal. The Man felt ready to seize full creative control of their next album.  That all changed when Danger Mouse, producer of Black Keys fame, offered to collaborate.  “Two weeks in, after everybody is saying we can do this ourselves, I get a call that ‘Danger Mouse wants to meet up with you,’” says front man John Gourley, “I’m not stupid.  I’m not going to pass up that opportunity.”

The band began recording the new album, titled Evil Friends, during the second half of 2012 in between tour dates that included a sunset performance at Coachella.  Gourley was impressed by Danger Mouse’s challenge to do better, even to the point of offering to delete entire sessions to create a blank slate for the next day’s recording.  “There’s no bag of tricks,” says Gourley, “He doesn’t have his go-to things.  It’s his taste.  He’s very good at focusing what you’re doing.”

Atlantic recognizes the benefit in the band’s collaboration with Danger Mouse, but isn’t relying on it as a marketing tool.  Rather, the label sees the group’s visual aesthetic as one of its biggest assets.  “They’ve always had super-inventive visuals,” says Atlantic General Manager, David Saslow, “when you meet with a guy like John and he has this many ideas, you really fall in and let him lead.”  The band has already completed videos for two tracks and is wrapping up a third for “Modern Jesus.”  Meanwhile, Atlantic is driving another track, “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” towards alternative radio.

Despite this multifaceted approach to finishing the Evil Friends, both the group and the label agree the main focus is on the band’s live show.  Portugal. The Man will perform at New York’s Governors Ball the week of the album’s release and follow it up with a U.S. tour which will include Bonnaroo.  “It’s an emotionally heavier album record for sure,” describes Gourley, “but it’s not like it’s off base for us.”