Men of Style

John Gourley of Portugal. The Man

The stylish singer on summer hats, burgers in Nashville, and what happens when Pantera comes to Alaska.
Photos: Tom Schirmacher

John Gourley. The Man. Of Style

For the latest installment in our ongoing music series, we’re thrilled to be teaming up with Portugal. The Man singer John Gourley, whose sense of style is as sound as his musical chops. And speaking of those, the band’s Danger Mouse-produced seventh album, Evil Friends, is out now from Atlantic Records.

Tell us a little about Portugal. The Man. How do you describe your sound?

“Rock ‘n’ roll” is the easiest thing I could say. That doesn’t mean we’re loud or heavy all of the time. We just express ourselves—sometimes in a loud way, sometimes in a quiet way.

And how would you describe your look?
John: Satanic… [To manager] Sam, what’s our look?
Sam: Polished yet rugged.
John: Whoa, what??? Polished Satanism…

You know, I’ve always felt that Satanism lacked polish. On behalf of rock fans everywhere, thank you. [And for the record, he’s entirely kidding.] How has your look evolved over the past couple years?
I’m from Alaska. I come from a state that has a style to it, but it’s very practical. I’ll wear a jacket at Coachella because What if it rains? Is it going to be cold tonight? Who knows? It’s always about having everything with you. Alaskans aren’t better at dealing with the cold—we’re not all survivalists—we’re just prepared for it… You ask me how my style has evolved? I actually pick out jackets that I like the look of, instead of just the warmth that they provide.

So how do you expect to be dressing differently a couple years from now?
I think 2001: A Space Odyssey is going to be my look. It’s going to be sixties future. I just went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA the other day. There’s something so classic about his movies. You could watch a Kubrick film today—it will always work. That’s a genius director that can make something so timeless… By the way, my watch is one of the prototypes for 2001 that Hamilton made. They’re pretty hard to find.

What’s one thing every guy should be wearing this season?

Wise man. How about something guys should not be wearing?
There’s one thing I can’t say, but I really want to. They’re label-mates. You know what? What everybody should be doing this year is the Wiz Khalifa Grammy outfit. That look was so on point! No shirt? Blazer? He was on. That should be the answer for both [what to wear and what not to wear].

You’re a regular Gilt customer. What’s on your shopping list right now?
A good summer hat. Summer hats are so important right now. People really don’t think about it a whole lot. You’ve got to pick up the right summer hat.

What is the best style advice you’ve ever received?
The style advice I always get is, “you shouldn’t wear that. Just don’t wear that again.” [Laughs.] Actually, our manager, when we first started working together, said, “find a good tailor.” I mean, it’s not expensive, and if you get a good tailor, everything you pick up fits well.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten, and why?
We were just talking about Burger Up, in Nashville. I mean, first of all, Nashville has the most beautiful people in the world. You almost hate going there, because everybody is so pretty. And they all seem to eat at this burger place, which is the coolest thing. That’s so punk—you look that good, and you’re out eating burgers? But this isn’t just any burger place.

Name the best concert you’ve ever been to (besides your own, of course).
Pantera. I was 14 years old. They played in Alaska. It was the first concert I’d ever been to. I’ve read interviews with them where they’d say, “We played for 100,000 people in Russia, and Alaska, in front of 6,000 people, was the craziest thing we’ve ever seen…” That was the craziest shit I’ve ever seen in my life. You have to imagine the biggest, meanest dudes in Alaska just letting it all out. It was—it was terrifying, and I wasn’t anywhere near the pit. The best front man. Phil Anselmo. Dimebag would go into a solo, and Phil would just take a step back and say, “Man that’s fuckin’ badass!” People don’t do that. You don’t see shows where the singer just takes a step back and points out how badass they are.

Who would you like to see featured as a Man of Style?
Justin Townes Earle. He is so on point. [To his manager, Sam, who told him they just made the top 10 on iTunes.] Fuck yeah, top 10! I did a press panel at Bonnaroo in 2009. That was a turning point for me in so many ways. The suit that he was wearing at Bonnaroo in 2009—I mean, he killed it. He’s just so cool. He’s got serious, serious style.

During his visit to Gilt’s Brooklyn studio, Mr. Gourley was kind enough to perform an impromptu version of “Sea of Air,” from the brand’s new record, Evil Friends. Enjoy…

[vimeo video_id=”67891978″ width=”720″ height=”405″ title=”Yes” byline=”Yes” portrait=”Yes” autoplay=”No” loop=”No” color=”ffffff”]

Head to the band’s official site to find out more about Portugal. The Man; download a copy of the new record, “Evil Friends,” on iTunes >

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