Exclusive: Portishead Talk New Album, Tour & Coachella


Big Shot has spoken exclusively to Portishead about their new album, Third, which will be released next month. The fourth release from the Bristol based trip-hop pioneers (their third studio album, overall) is a less claustrophobic body of work that sees Beth Gibbons utilize the softer vocal style she perfected with her solo album that perforated their ten-year absence from the music industry. Geoff Barrows and Adrian Utley sat down with us to talk through the eleven-track release that steers away from their previous inclination for samples and ventures into a broader sonic pastiche.

The three-piece act will be joined by a similar lineup of musicians to those who have played with them in the past; however, DJ Andy Smith is not appearing at the live dates. Barrows explains that this is due to the new processes the band utilized. “As we haven’t used many samples with Third, the live shows are more about a band. We all swap around instruments. When the lights go out between songs, we are madly running around trying to prepare for the next one. Swapping snare drums, things like that.”

Barrows is excited by the prospect of coming to the US to play at Coachella. “We’ve never done it before, and yes it’s quite funny that The Verve are the other headliners,” he says. “When they split we had to step into their shoes and fill a number of festival slots they had been booked for. So now, although we never went away really, we are going to play Coachella at the same time as them.’

Portishead have indeed never really gone away. They took a well-earned break after a massive promotional tour for second self-titled album and began recording again in 2004 in Sydney. According to Barrows, the tapes were “okay,” but not considered good enough by the band to be classed as new Portishead material. So it came to pass that now, in 2008, the British band who captured the hearts of millions worldwide in the 1990s, arrive back in a music industry that has changed but will surely welcome them with open arms.

A full length exclusive interview with Barrows and Utley will feature in Issue 23 of Big Shot, where the band discuss their live album, PNYC, the influence of Bristol on their music, the changes in the technology between albums, and the plethora of fan made videos that have cropped up on the Web. OGW

Darren Ressler