Zach Carothers and Eric Howk of Portugal. The Man came back to their home state of Alaska last weekend to promote their upcoming concert as the headliners at the Alaska State Fair this fall.
While in Alaska, Carothers and Howk also fell back in love with the state that raised them, meeting Alaskan fans in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
“It was good to talk to a lot of Alaskans and that’s something I’ve missed for sure,” said Carothers. “It’ll be fun to go back and I’m excited to meet people in person. I kind of forgot that I liked people.”
Portugal. The Man won a Grammy for their hit “Feel It, Still” in 2018 off of the album “Woodstock” and have continued working through the pandemic. Last week, the band released their “Oregon City Sessions” on vinyl and a “chill” project called the “Ulu Selects”. Bass player Carothers, rhythm guitarist Howk and singer John Gourley all grew up in Alaska and are proud of the state that raised them.
“When we make an album we’re just like what would we like this Alaskan attitude of what would you like to hear on the radio. Well I’d like to hear this, so make it,” said Carothers. “For ‘Woodstock’ in particular I pretty much felt like when I was making myself a mixtape to go in to wash dishes at the Mat-Su Resort, like that’s what I’m just doing. I was kind of making a mixtape for my 17-year-old self that I could show them from the future and be like, would you listen to this in your ‘88 S10?”
Prior to their meet and greet with fans at Matanuska Brewing Company in Eagle River on Friday, Carothers and Howk were served tall cold drinks while they watched a band go through their sound check on stage.
“You got a good sasparilla?” asked Howk. “More beers, Les Pauls.”
Since returning to the state to hug their mothers and hug each other’s mothers, Carothers and Howk expressed their excitement to play in front of an Alaskan audience again at the fair this fall.
“I definitely smoked one of my first cigarettes there, realized that I liked girls there,” said Howk. “That was my first introduction to any kind of culture at all, so the full circle thing is very much not lost on me. It feels as big as it gets for me. I’m super honored, super touched and I’m going to be pretty emotional up there.”
Portugal recorded a single with Weird Al Yancovic called “Who’s Gonna Stop Me” that Carothers and Howk were particularly excited about. The band also recently recorded an album with Black Thought and has welcomed Portland Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard on stage to shoot T-shirt cannons, but not yet to perform.
“What’s fun about the fair is it’s going to be really us because we can’t hide behind our lasers or our fog or our production and it’s small. It’s intimate, even though it’s a big field and there’s lots of people it’s still like, we don’t get to hide,” said Carothers. “This is our Madison Square Garden. This is like what this is for us, that’s our Madison Square.”