Album Art courtesy of Portugal. The Man
My first introduction to the Lords of Portland was in a Vitamin Water ad. I was 15, 16 if any cute New York girls asked, staying the month in Canajoharie, NY, with a close friend of mine at his grandmother's place. I remember we were watching Fresh Prince re-runs when Aaron Paul came on screen- that's Jessie Pinkman for those of you have just started watching Breaking Bad after this year's Pop Corners Super Bowl ad. He was skipping and dancing and twirling around on a treadmill in an unripe banana yellow painted gym with a matching colored Vitamin Water Zero in his hand, while that fuck-all bass line from their then chart climbing hit, "Feel It Still," screeched into the foreground of the commercial. I spent days trying to find that song. I had Amazon Music at the time, and had yet to activate an Unlimited subscription, and the song had yet to hit the free service. That, and googling the shit out of "asghdfajhdvs just for kicks" over and over again brought up any hits I was looking for.
The first time I ever saw Portugal. The Man live was a few years later at the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa, Florida. I was a freshman in college and I had gotten tickets to the festival for Christmas that year. I was barely 18, still making a couple extra bucks piercing the trust fund kids on my floor's ears, and I had to keep running back and forth across the Riverwalk bridge between the stage and campus so I could run up to my room and slam something carbonated to keep a buzz during the local artists' sets. I did meet the sweetest old lesbian couple during the Anderson East set though, who invited me to their van around the corner for a (Google, what's a synonym for fuckton?) of weed. I hung with them until the P.TM set started, just making fun of what was then the first wave of e-kids that were playing hooky.
I couldn't tell you a single song they played that night. I got so wrapped up by Beavis and Butt-Head introducing and naming them "the greatest band that ever lived," scheming how to crowd kill the eight-foot Michelin Man next to me (unsuccessfully), and watching another guy fling pineapple piss missiles at unsuspecting salarymen in cargo shorts. No, really-- this guy had an actual pineapple that he was throwing at people in the crowd. Since then, I've held every other show I've seen to that standard.
But who cares, right? That was three years ago, what has P.TM even been up to since? Well, not including a few singles and remixes, a feature on St. Francis Hotel's We Fall Together, two whole live recordings, a slot on The Metallica Blacklist, and collaborative tracks with Cherry Glazerr, Sir Chloe, and mother-effing 'Weird Al' Yankovic?? Nothing, I guess, but they did announce their 11th album today, Chris Black Changed My Life, slotted for a summer release, June 23rd. The announcement came from their official Instagram page at 12:00 PM EST, with this statement from the band attached regarding the albums fruition and subject matter:
We lost a very dear friend of ours on May 19, 2019. It shook us to our core. Chris was one of those people who was like glue; he brought everyone together. His passing really messed with us. The band was in shambles and this record is the first time I feel I made a complete record; a complete thought about our world crumbling around us and the journey back. While it is a very personal journey, I feel like everyone has a Chris Black in their life; at least I hope that everyone has a Chris Black in their life. That one friend who has a way of making everything right and making everything fun. The one who keeps you in check when you go off course and is always there to celebrate the good times and to support you in the bad times. Chris Black Changed My Life.
Alongside today's announcement, the Lords also released the lead single off their upcoming album, "Dummy." "Dummy" is reminiscent of more of P. TM's recent work, opting for an easier listen and two-steppable pop bass line to head off the album rollout-- similar to "Feel It Still" or "Novocaine For The Soul" with Sir Chloe. The song is about feeling like you live in a cartoon world, or more accurately, trapped in one, matched perfectly by the band's recent thematic collaboration with artist Wesley James, who also worked with Portugal. The Man and the Pass The Mic Foundation on their "Racism is for Chodes" campaign in back in June, 2020 The music video for the "Dummy" was also premiered today, and was directed by Noel Paul, who has directed videos for bands and artists like Black Midi and Father John Misty. The video follows a real-lifeTank Dog, created by Wesley James, wreacking havoc through the unceded ancestral lands of Qutekcak, Mokana, and Knik, the hometown of P.TM frontman John Gourley. According to the album art posted by the band on Instagram, and confirmed by Genius, Chris Black Changed My Life will be 11 songs long, and will include the previously teased "Heavy Games II," a sequel to the original song made popular by and written for the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. This version will also feature Jeff Bhasker, the self-crowned Synth God.
Will the rest of the album sound like "Dummy"? Or will it be a return to In the Mountain in the Cloud, and fall in line with "Heavy Games" or "So American"? We'll have all our answers in June. This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before.
While June is a long time to wait, there's still more good news. P. TM has also announced four new shows in July and August in congruence with the release of the album. You can catch them in Troutdale, Oregon, Morrison, Colorado, NYC, New York, and Hollywood, California. If you can't wait for tickets, you can pre-save the album now on streaming and get exclusive access to pre-sale tickets.
Words by Rob Lucchesi
Original Art by John Gourley
Photos by Maclay Heriot
TankDog IP: Wesley James
Artwork Design by Austin Sellers