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On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got the frontman for a band that recently made a welcome return after a long absence, and the producer who helped him find the sounds and songs to do it: John Gourley and Jeff Bhasker.
Gourley is the singer for Portugal. The Man, which started making music in their home state of Alaska back in the early 2000s before finding success and relocating to Portland, Oregon. The band has an impressive catalog that runs the pop gamut, and weirdly they hit it huge pretty deep into their career, with the 2017 song “Feel It Still,” which is still on pop radio six years later. Just this year, PTM finally released a new album, called Chris Black Changed My Life, which both mourns and celebrates the band’s close friend, for whom it’s also named. The album was also partly inspired by the daughter of Gourley and his bandmate Zoe Manville; Frances Gourley has a rare genetic disorder that’s touched on in this chat. But the album and Gourley’s story is by no means grim: He’s all about celebrating life, as you’ll hear on this track, “Summer of Luv,” which features some assistance from another recent Talkhouse guest, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
You’ll also hear the fingerprints of producer Jeff Bhasker on that track. Bhasker is best known for co-writing and co-producing smash hits like Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” He’s one of several names that Portugal. The Man brought in to help realize Chris Black Changed My Life. The two talk about how that process worked, and in particular how Gourley is—unlike some songwriters—always happy to have more creative voices in the room. They also chat about which of them is a better singer, about playing at the Hollywood Bowl, about Gourley’s life-changing jaw injury, and about Gourley’s daughter Frances and the challenges they face. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to John Gourley and Jeff Bhasker for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the great written pieces at Talkhouse.com. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!
(Feature Photo Credit: Maclay Heriot; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)