Interview with Zachary Carothers of Portugal. the Man
Enjoy our exclusive interview with Zachary Carothers, of the amazing Portugal. The Man.
FYAE: How did you come to the decision to work with Danger Mouse on producing Evil Friends? How was the environment during recording and do you feel the end result is different than with past producers?
ZC: Obviously, it was a no-brainer. Craig, the head of Atlantic set up a meeting with John and Brian while we were self producing what we thought was our new album. We ended up scratching all but two songs from that session in order to start fresh on the collaboration. Working with Brian was amazing. As an artist himself, he had a unique perspective into band dynamics and had great advice on keeping your integrity while trying to write accessible music. We learned so much during the process. By far the most positive recordings we’ve ever done.
FYAE: What albums/songs have you been listening to as of late? Any upcoming albums you’re particularly looking forward to?
ZC: For some reason I’ve been on a big hip hop and metal kick lately. I think I’ve been strung out and anxious over the record release. Aggressive music helps me with that. Mostly Kanye and Slayer. Ha. I’ve always been into music that breaks new ground. Hip hop over the last few years has just been incredible. So obviously the new Wu-Tang, Kanye, Drake, and Black Sabbath. Very excited about a new album from La Roux. Love her.
FYAE: When you look back at the progression over the albums, what do you think is different and has changed? Would you go back to those roots, or continue on the current path of sound?
ZC: We’re always looking to evolve. I’m proud of the things we’ve done, but we’ve already done them. We’ll always reference old songs and keep true to our sound, but we will always be changing. Over the years, we’ve become better at writing songs. So many people thought we were experimental and progressive at the beginning, but the truth is, we had no idea what we were doing. Jamming parts and riffs together with no fluid transitions or continuity. We’re just getting better at smoothing everything out. John’s song writing is getting better everyday.
FYAE: There have been comments from both Noah & and yourself, about the similarities between Evil Friends, the recording process, and Pink Floyd, specifically Dark Side of the Moon. Can you elaborate on this further? Is Evil Friends a story within a story?
ZC: Every album we make has themes. As often as we make them, each record is a snapshot at our lives at that moment. Dark Side of the Moon inspired us more in mood and recurring themes more than it did sonically for this album. Pink Floyd has always had an amazing way of repeating riffs and progressions in different songs and in different ways. Really makes you always want to listen to the whole album in a row rather than shuffle through your favorites.
FYAE: How is the dynamic now that Kyle O’Quin [former Gatsbys American Dream/current Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground] has joined the band? Obviously, Kyle comes from some great bands, so what has he brought with him in terms of the music progression?
ZC: We’ve known Kyle a long time. He knows music and theory more than any of my close friends. His knowledge of that has helped John with song writing so much lately, but the lack of that knowledge is what made the songs so special from the beginning. Music to us is about breaking the rules. Kyle has a hard time with that.. But we’re figuring out a good balance. He is very talented.
FYAE: This is the first time in what seems like forever an album hasn’t been released on a yearly basis, was there specifically a reason behind this, or was it more a matter of timing?
ZC: It really was a matter of timing. You can imagine that Danger Mouse is a pretty busy guy. As are we. He was recording the U2 album at the same time, and we were constantly flying out for one off shows. We want to put out an album a year, but we won’t let the songs suffer for it. If its not done, we’ll work til it is.
FYAE: Imagine your perfect tour. Who would you tour with and why? Now flip that, and if you didn’t have to play and could just be in the audience, would this line-up change at all?
ZC: I’d love to play with Beck and Bjork. Both have been so progressive and cool since I first started really digging deep into my own music. It would be weird as hell. And a hell of a show.
FYAE: Who are the musicians you looked up to the most growing up and why? What album would you say had the biggest impact on your childhood? What album makes a difference in your current day to day?
ZC: I would have to say Nirvana and their album, Nevermind. Although I fell in love with rock and roll at an early age, this was all my own. Not something my parents or an older cousin showed me, all mine. It meant everything to me and is solely responsible for me picking up a guitar. Their albums still help me to this day. I can get lost in it, or find my way. It’s a beautiful thing.
Evil Friends comes out on Atlantic Records, Tuesday, June 4th.
Portugal. the Man is:
John Baldwin Gourley
Zachary Scott Carothers