Out and About Pensacola recently spoke with Zach Carothers of the hard-working Indie Rock sensations — Portugal. The Man.
Carothers is a founding member who plays bass guitar and is backing vocals for the Alaskan band who are now based in Portland, Oregon. They are currently in the studio wrapping up what will be their 8th studio album, all the while, making their way around North America on tour.
This will be the bands third Hangout Fest performance. We talked with him about working with Mike D of the Beastie Boys on their new album, the love of hip-hop and building houses.
O&A: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and for playing Helter Skelter at Okeechobee Festival.
CAROTHERS: No problem man, we kind of murdered it a bit but, that happens sometimes with covers we don’t rehearse. But, we always got to give a shout-out to the Beatles.
O&A: So, would you say the vibe is different for a Portugal. The Man show at a festival versus a concert hall?
CAROTHERS: Absolutely, at a festival it is all about the party unlike a venue that is more focused on our show. We tend to gear our sets differently, doing more covers, changing up melodies and arrangements of our own songs. It’s all about having fun. We are music fans so we like to go see shows when we are at a festival.
O&A: This will be your third Hangout Fest. Any fond memories of years past?
CAROTHERS: All fond memories, yet all a bit fuzzy. We were late for our first performance in 2011. We played in Houston late the night before which got us in a crunch for time. We had to drive overnight, only stopping for gas, and literally got out of the van and stepped on stage for sound check. It was surprising that Hangout Fest was actually ON the beach and we got to watch dolphins swimming while we were playing. After the performance, we jumped in the ocean before we packed the trailer and headed off to the next show.
O&A: Now that you guys are signed to Atlantic is traveling a bit easier?
CAROTHERS: Well, we sleep better and more comfortable on the bus but sometimes I miss the van and trailer because it allowed us to see the sights. For instance, if we wanted to see the world’s largest ball of yarn we could stop and check it out versus having to be on a schedule. We still make time to have fun along the way.
O&A: What is the point if you cannot have some fun?
CAROTHERS: Exactly, and being an artist at Hangout Fest is so easy. They take care of everything for you and the sights, sounds, food, booze, and beautiful people make it quite the experience. The last time we played we all went into Surf Style and got wind breakers, matching shirts, and hats to fit in with the glorious crowd.
O&A: Can we expect more of the same fun and excitement this year?
CAROTHERS: We might not be the best band. Well, if you ask me I am going to tell you we are. But either way we will be having to most fun of any band for sure!
O&A: Have to ask about the new album. You guys have worked with Mike D on the record can we expect that soon?
CAROTHERS: We were lucky enough to work with him. The album is not yet complete. We have recorded a whole lot of material. Hopefully, this next coming week we will be wrapping up recording and the finishing touches on the record.
O&A: After the success of 2013’s, ‘Evil Friends’ you guys deserve some time to work on the new album. The fans will just have to wait. Can we expect a song or two off the new album at Hangout Fest?
CAROTHERS: Thank you, and yes, you can expect that!
O&A: Did Mike D add some of his hip-hop flare to the new album?
CAROTHERS: Even when you cannot hear it hip-hop has a major influence on our music. We listen to a lot of it. We are major Beastie Boys fans. The lead singer, John Gourley, and I actually became friends because of our mutual love for the Beastie Boys. They were hugely influential for us.
O&A: So maybe we can expect a Beastie Boys cover at Hangout Fest?
CAROTHERS: We actually have never totally covered a Beastie Boys song in total. That is not a bad idea, maybe we will throw that out there.
O&A: As a music fan what was your first concert?
CAROTHERS: It was in Anchorage Alaska in 1993 or 1994. I saw Primus with my little brother and we got our asses kicked in the pit. Primus fans are hardcore and it awoke something primal in me. (no pun intended)
O&A: So as a bass player yourself, was Les Claypool someone you looked up to?
CAROTHERS: A ridiculous amount. He is a beast on the bass. Vocally, lyrically, and effects wise there is nobody like him. It’s like a circle of life thing. Like working with Mike D. I got to see MCA’s room with his bass In Mike D’s studio and ended up playing MCA’s bass which was crazy. Touring with Primus I got to tell them that they were my first show and hang out with them which was a humbling experience.
O&A: You really can hear the hip-hop influence in your rhythm section. Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue pretty much is structured like a hip-hop song.
CAROTHERS: I’ve actually never mentioned this in an interview but we have recorded versus from Rick Ross and Pusha-T over Purple Yellow that we haven’t released yet. Pusha-T is one of my favorite MC’s and I almost crashed my car listening to the track over and over with excitement.
O&A: You got to release that, perhaps on Record Store Day?
CAROTHERS: I am actually DJing an all hip-hop set on RSD the day after my birthday. Should be interesting considering I will probably be a little hungover.
O&A: Thank you very much for the interview. I know you have to be busy.
CAROTHERS: No doubt. Yeah the lead singer (John Gourley) recently bought a house in Alaska and we have been working 10 hours a day doing construction then going to the studio to finish up the next album. I’m actually on my way over there now we got some flooring coming in and have been doing electrical work and electrocuting ourselves a lot.
O&A: One last thing. Coachella has done a couple of hologram shows with Tupac and Easy-E. Which hologram show would you like to see next?
CAROTHERS: I would probably make a super group of my favorite people. Or you know what. I would have to pick Bowie. He was the hardest loss since Kurt Cobain for me to deal with musically. Although, since I don’t think Kurt would have been down with a hologram show and I think Bowie, if he hasn’t already planned it would be cool with a hologram show. He’s my definite choice!
O&A: Thanks again
WHEN: Saturday, May 21, 2016
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