Portugal. The Man Reveal “The Satanic Satanist” Artwork
These days, elaborate album artwork is a thing of the past, as more and more, we favor downloads over CDs and records. But no one has bothered telling that to Portugal. The Man‘s frontman, John Baldwin Gourley. For the group’s brand-new album, The Satanic Satanist (which drops July 21), Gourley and art designer Austin Sellers have come up with an extremely striking package – featuring Gourley’s trademark surreal, psychedelic-era drawings – that folds out, Origami-like, into different shapes and sizes – and just may help usher in a renaissance of innovative album packaging artwork.
“I’ve had this idea for a little while,” explains Gourley, “but what it would take to actually make it happen seemed overwhelming. We had been talking about doing an album package without the plastic, to make the package one, solid piece where all the elements worked together from both an artistic and practical point of view. Every time you folded or unfolded it, everything still lined up to be a picture. Also, we wanted to incorporate a lot of [Gourley’s home state] Alaska into the artwork, which is where all the photos of mountains in the artwork were taken.”
While it’s understandable to assume that the stunning artwork was a conscious response to the dwindling amount of imaginative album covers nowadays, Gourley says this was not entirely the case. “I’d like to say that’s the reason and that it’s some sort of marketing tool to get people to buy the album, but really, it’s just such a huge part of what we do. Austin and I love sitting down and putting the packages together, and it’s something that is really important to the band – to be able to offer fans something visual as well as the music. As musicians and artists, we’re so lucky, because we get to be involved with all sides of art – album artwork, videos, posters, and t-shirts.”
Portugal. The Man has always been totally “DIY,” yet another element that makes the packaging for The Satanic Satanist so extraordinary. They may not be the only band blazing a trail back to the glory days of 1970’s album artwork, but they’re doing it completely on their own – no major record label to bring in high-end graphic designers, no big budgets.
But the artwork is just part of the big picture that is The Satanic Satanist. Portugal. The Man‘s music has been likened to a wide and impressive variety of other artists’ sounds – the Mars Volta, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley – and the new album is a sonic potpourri of some of Gourley’s favorite musical styles. “The idea of this record was more to focus on what [2008’s] Censored Colors had taken a step towards, which was focused song structures. And really trying to experiment with sounds – within the confines of a song rather than just letting the music lead itself around. Sound-wise, The Satanic Satanist is such a mix of 60’s pop songs with somewhat 90’s sounds…and lots of Pink Floyd synthesizers as well.”
Gourley offered an update on the plans for the band, which also includes bassist Zachary Scott Carothers, keyboardist Ryan Neighbors, and the return of original drummer, Jason Sechrist (Garrett Lunceford filled in for Sechrist during his time away and was the drummer for The Satanic Satanist). “We’re really just recording music, I’m doing some painting and will probably work with Austin on projects outside the band. But we’re looking forward to the rest of this year – we’ll do a lot of touring through North America and Europe, and we’re playing major festivals for the first time – Lollapalooza, Bonnarro, and Outside Lands. It’s looking pretty good right now.”