When Portugal. The Man found out that its trailer, van and $100,000 worth of equipment had been stolen at Chicago’s Lollapalooza early August, the four band members did what anyone would do in this modern age: They tweeted about it.
The word traveled fast. Portugal. The Man became a trending topic on Twitter, and soon, both the local news and police joined them on the scene.
“The social media — the whole internet scene — is what saved our butts,” said Jason Sechrist, Portugal. The Man’s drummer. “Instead of just us and our fan base, it got to friends of friends of friends. It got everywhere.”
After days of tips and police investigation, most of the band’s gears were recovered in the home of a man who claimed he had bought them at a flea market.
This stroke of bad luck shook things up for the four members, who in just three-and-a-half weeks were embarking on a world tour for their sixth studio album, In the Mountain In the Cloud.
Rehearsals were inevitably pushed back and new equipment had to be acquired, but in the time allotted, the foursome worked harder than ever, Sechrist said.
“We just kind of hit rehearsal really hard,” he said. “But now we’re pretty damn tight. We’re tighter than we were when we played Lollapalooza, so that’s good.”
And with that, the psychedelic-rock band hailing from Alaska dove right back into the groove. After kicking off the American leg of its tour in Santa Clara just recently, Portugal. The Man will grace The Avalon in Hollywood this Saturday with their signature psychedelic-rock jams.
Saturday’s sold-out show will not be the last of its kind on this tour, Sechrist said.
“It looks like a lot of the gigs will be sold out on the tour,” he said. “We brought in a new light show, new equipment with different sound effects, so people aren’t gonna hear the same things that they heard from us last year.”
In the Mountain In the Cloud, released July 19, may be the group’s sixth album since 2006, but it is also the band’s first release since signing with Atlantic Records last April. Naturally, it was also one of the most intimidating records to date, Sechrist said.
“We got really psyched out about all the other Atlantic Records releases over the course of many years, and we lost it in the beginning stretch, which is typically not the situation,” he said.
Adding on to that was the pressure of playing in big, expensive studios all across the country from Seattle to Texas to Los Angeles, as opposed to the more modest ones in the band’s earlier days, Sechrist said.
“We didn’t want to waste time and money because coming from the indie side, we were more able to play around and find our groove,” he said.
After months of traveling and touring around “with ideas,” Portugal. The Man’s foursome—John Gourley as lead vocals and guitar, Zachary Scott Carothers on bass, Ryan Neighbors on keyboards and Sechrist on drums—was able to sift its indie nature from the major record fuss and finish the record within a year, Sechrist said.
The most notable indication of the group’s indie roots is their humble openness with its fan base. In the months leading up to the official release of In the Mountain In the Cloud, the band released 30-second previews of some of their new tracks on YouTube.
“We’re not the type of band that’s mysterious and completely out of the picture for a year or two, and all of a sudden say, ‘here’s our new record, here’s our website, hope you like it, peace out,’” Sechrist said. “We’re pretty social guys, and we’re weird and fun.”
“Weird and fun” ranges anywhere from regularly sharing candid—and often ridiculous—photos of band members on Facebook to holding Skype “office hours” with fans and bloggers.
“In the beginning when MySpace was around, that really helped bands that were starting out,” Sechrist said. “We always try to take advantage of any great internet tool.”
Fitting that it was the best of these Internet tools that played a crucial role in the band’s miraculous tale of the lost-and-found gear.