John Baldwin Gourley and Zach Carothers met in high school, in their hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. Drawn to eachother’s far-reaching ideals of genre-bending rock music, the two established an outfit that would shape the future of American rock music. With dynamic contributions from Ryan Neighbors and Garrett Lunceford, Portugal. The Man became the brainchild of Carothers and Gourley’s early experimentation.
On March 25, the award-winning, live music menacing global phenomenon group recounts their formative years, revealing a previously unreleased tape, Oregon City Sessions. Recorded over 12 years ago, the live set timestamps an emerging band, surviving off of white rice and occasional Taco Bell splurges. Accompanying the announcement of an April 16 release, Portugal. The Man shares a new video for their 2006 song, “The Devil.”
The indie-psych-rock project first recorded this 100 minute set in December 2008 on the tail end of an enduring tour. Rather than rest, they set forth to capture the force of what had become their live performance set. The group piled in with their live gear and a handful of friends with handheld cameras, heading to the outskirts of Portland to lay down their live show. Longtime collaborator and filmmaker Graham (Baclagon) Agcaolli and engineer/mixer Jacob Portrait—who would later join Unknown Mortal Orchestra—met them there to assist in the documentation.
There, in a “gem” of a studio, Portugal. The Man performed their full set, one time through—with no re-takes or overdubs. At that point, Portugal. The Man was just two years into their journey with three full-lengths, one EP, and a couple of standalone singles while performing just shy of 500 shows under their belt. Weeks after the Oregon City Sessions, the rock outfit headed into the studio to record The Santanic Satanist.
Moving at a galloping pace, the supergroup placed their live studio recordings on shelf and wandered off to their next adventure. They quickly balanced their Satanic Satanist with 2009’s all-acoustic identical rendering, The Majestic Majesty. 2011’s In The Mountain in the Cloud followed 2010’s American Ghetto. Evil Friends in 2013 marked a release-hiatus for the band, leading up to their momentous 2017 record, Woodstock.
The RIAA certified gold album was marked by the astounding success of their infectious single, “Feel It Still,” which earned the group a plethora of new accolades including a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, a 5-times RIAA platinum-certified single certification, a mind-blowing 20-week residency at No.1 on alternative radio, and a steadfast claim to the Top 40 airwaves.
Now the band, having played over 1,600 shows to date, has been home for over a year. While their cult-like audience chomps at the bit for the next available show, Portugal, The Man—now comprised of Gourley, Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Eric Howk, Jason Sechrist, and Zoe Manville—felt this would be a fitting occasion to dig the Oregon City Sessions up from the archives. Untouched, unchanged from the day it was finished, the 15-track recording serves as a time capsule of a band finding its way. The snapshot of young raw talent before they won awards, sold millions of records, and headlined festivals reveals the boundless spirit of an emerging act dedicated to the grind.
“The first few years of PTM were whirlwind,” says singer/guitarist John Gourley. “We didn’t have a place to live so we were pretty much either recording or touring. We were so wide-eyed coming out of Alaska that every day was an exciting new adventure. I think you can see it in our playing.”
Alongside the shine of their myriad musical accomplishments lies the group’s long-standing passion for social justice. In fact, this is precisely the intersection on which Portugal. The Man thrives; throughout their career, the band has consistently exemplified how to deeply commit to both artistry and activism. This dynamic inspired them to officially launch their PTM Foundation in 2020, focused on universal issues related to human rights, community health, and the environment, with an emphasis on causes directly impacting Indigenous Peoples. Their continued passion for activism has also led to recent partnerships with organizations such as Keep Oregon Well, March for Our Lives, and Protect Our Winters, to name just a few.
Watch “The Devil” music video below. Portugal. The Man’s Oregon City Sessions live album will be available April 16 via Approaching AIRBalloons/Secretly Distribution and out on vinyl and CD on June 11. Pre-order here.
Oregon City Sessions Track Listing
1 – Church Mouth
2 – Horse Warming Party
3 – New Orleans
4 – Bellies Are Full
5 – 1989
6 – My Mind
7 – Lay Me Back Down
8 – Chicago
9 – And I
10 – The Devil
11 – AKA M80 The Wolf
12 – Colors
13 – March With 6
14 – Tommy
15 – Helter Skelter