Portugal. The Man’s uber-catchy ‘Feel It Still’ is up for Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammy Awards, and they told us what they’ve got planned if they win big on Sunday!
Zach Carothers and Kyle O’Quin of Portugal. The Man are heading into Grammys night (Jan. 28) with the best attitude ever: it’ll be cool if they win, and a bit of a bummer if they don’t, but either way, they’re getting pizza. We talked all about it ahead of the band’s special free show at Mastercard House in New York City on Jan. 26.
What was it like when you got the news that you’re nominated?
Zach Carothers: It was pretty nuts. It’s wild. I woke up to 88 texts. But I actually got told by a human — my girlfriend told me, which didn’t make sense in the dream I was having. It was 8 in the morning and everybody had found out before me already. For a guy in a band, I get up pretty early, but 8:30 [was too late.]
Kyle O’Quin: Either something really good or really bad has happened when my phone starts going crazy. We’d just come home after tour for three months. It was nice to get that news at home.
It’s such a jam. I caught one of your Terminal 5 dates last time you were in New York — you played “Feel It Still” and a few other songs twice! I loved that.
ZC: Well, it was kind of a joke. We did it for a while. It started off back when Watch the Throne came out. There was a show where JAY-Z and Kanye [West] played “N*ggas in Paris” eight times in a row, and I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. It was like a shoutout to them, like, “Do it again!” Hilarious.
What will you do if you run into JAY-Z at the Grammys this Sunday?
ZC: Well, we’ve actually met. I’m not generally nervous around famous people. But one time, a couple years ago, JAY and Beyonce…
KO: We were eating at a restaurant and I walked in late. Zach was sitting there and I sat down, and he’s like, “JAY-Z and Beyonce are here.” I wanted to look so bad. I finally did, and it was like, holy shit!
ZC: There were two tables in the restaurant. It was us and them. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and they came straight from church, in their Sunday best, hats, suits. They had the kids, the family. A whole security team. Beyonce smiled at me. She looked like royalty. My girlfriend at the time was like, “Why are you being so weird?” I couldn’t conversate or eat.
Amazing. If you do get called up onstage, do you have any fun ideas planned?
ZC: Oh, no, no. At most, we will wear our blazers and beanies and represent our hometown basketball teams. We’re already the new kids, no one cares about us!
You’re so not, though!
ZC: I know. We’re the old freshmen. That’s been fun, being the old guys in the pop world. It’s hilarious. Respect your elders, kids.
I read that you plan to bring your mothers as your dates to the ceremony. Is that still happening?
ZC: Yes! The whole family is out.
Amazing. How will you celebrate if you win?
ZC: I’m going to drink Jameson out of the award. One hundred percent.
Like out of the gramophone?
ZC: Yep. If we lose, we’re getting a slice of pizza. We’re treating it like Little League. If we win the game, either way, we all go out for pizza and everybody tried hard.
KO: I’m going to get really stoned and forget that we lost.
Zach: I’m getting pizza and beer. Like I did when I was twelve.
You never know! So, after the Grammys, you’re back on tour again…
ZC: The second we get back, we have one half day off, and we start tour the next day. We’re hitting places we haven’t been in a while, like Canada.
KO: We’ve never been to Russia.
ZC: I’m excited to go to Russia.
KO: They’re like, “You’re number one in Russia,” and we were like, on what? Here you have pop and the Triple A chart and stuff. They’re like, “Oh, no, it’s just one chart. It’s just Russia.” [Laughs]
ZC: I can’t wait.
I know you’re based in Portland, OR, but when you go home to your native Alaska, are you the heroes of the state?
ZC: [Laughs] Kinda. But they put us in our place. They’re hard workers and they build houses they think we took the easy way out. But they have no idea! It’s not just playing guitar. First of all, I built houses, too.
But I try to explain: imagine you’re building a house that you care deeply about, like it’s for your daughter, and you want it to carry your name forever…and it’s never done. You’re always thinking about what you want to do next. You write the song and put out the album but you’re not done. You don’t sleep well or clock out. It’s always there, forever.
KO: And then people are like, can’t you make that one house you made in 2007? Over and over? Build it again!
ZC: There’s criticism every day. We’re idiots, though. I read all of the comments.
There are supportive ones! Some of the meme accounts are really good. I love @johngourleysglasses.
ZC: Yeah, she’s great. It’s fantastic. We’ve got a meme team.
Finally, are you thinking about the next record yet?
ZC: Absolutely. We’ve started writing. There’s not a lot of time, but any chance we get — we just like to constantly keep it going. When we don’t do anything for months then go into the studio, we get rusty. We don’t gather moss, we just keep going!
KO: We write every day and when we get a good streak, we roll with it.