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ATP'S ROTY: #3 Portman - From Here To Your Eyes and Ears

Today I am a step closer to completing my Top 10 Records of the Year and at Number 3 is Peterborough band Portman with "From Here To Your Eyes and Ears".

An album with 90's emo influences but with a British backbone. Songs such as "The Great Machine" and "Who Watches The Watchman?" being highlights and showcasing a band with mature song-writing and well-thought out structure.

The album is refreshing and inspiring and for a small British band like Portman, it is a great achievement.

I recently spoke to Bassist Toby Potter about "From Here To Your Eyes and Ears", the band's 2 recent free EPs and the year in general.

ATP: Who are you and what is your role in the band?
Toby Potter: Toby, I play bass.

ATP: So this year you released your debut album “From Here to Your Eyes and Ears”, tell us a bit about whole the album came together?
TP: I guess what kicked this whole thing into motion was the punktastic unseen, 99, 30 second songs. We recorded what became the intro to the album and "who watches the watchman" in the Easter of '07. We decided at this point we wanted to work towards an album. We had done a few three track EP's before, but we wanted to 'experiment' a bit with the atmosphere you could create with an album. It was an exciting time with the idea of releasing the record with walnut tree and pep-rock records; we thought that we wouldn't get the opportunity to release anything like this again, so we put on some of the older tracks. We learnt so much from that album, and I think it will show with our next release.

ATP: How does it feel to be compared to the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get Up Kids?
TP; Its very flattering, I think its cooler to be compared to the bands that kind of created the early 'emo' sound. emo is such a dirty word these days, but when a band like The Get Up Kids, Last Days Of April, Sunny Day or Braid is mentioned when describing us, a lot of people are like 'oh that kind of emo!' and give it a try. we have found that a lot, when people actually give the album a try, they not only like it, but love it.

ATP: Who or what influenced the album? I see there’s a running theme related to humanity.
TP: I guess this question would be better answered by Matt, he writes all the lyrics, so could probably better explain his thoughts. I think as a general theme, we were trying to capture a place we were all at. come to terms with our coming of age, our total freedom after leaving education and home. how fucked up the world is with war, corporation and religion. but at the same time how amazing it is when your surrounded by great friends and family and a music scene kept alive by morality and ethics.

ATP: In the summer you played a few dates with Atwood and A Broken Robot. How was that?
TP: that was the best time we have had being in the band. us and A Broken Robot guys shared a six seater van to save on money, so we had lots of fun doing prison tattoo, drinking pear cider and watching die hard. all of which you can read about on there blog at Atwood were the most lovely bunch of guys and had the catchiest tunes, there EP is awesome. both Matt and Jon from ABR would get up and sing 'Cameras' with Atwood, it was a real feel good moment. we would do it for a year straight if we could!

ATP: How would you describe your normal Portman gig?
TP: Its like sex, empty, inconsistent and awkward. but from our point of view energetic, fun and sweaty. we think that if we aren't afraid to dance to our music, the crowd wont be, it usually works!

ATP: What do you when you’re not out on the road?
TP: We are all best mates, that's how we started back in college, so we all hang out together. we practise together once a week but me and James are usually writing in his bedroom a couple of nights a week. We all work full time.

ATP: Would you say it’s difficult for a small independent UK band, like yourselves, to get noticed? If so why do you think it is?
TP: Yeah, it hard to get noticed at our level. We are just a drop in a huge ocean so we never expect much from our labels, promoters etc. Its people like yourselves and Punktastic etc, doing there thing for us that get us out to an audience that enjoy what we play, its really appreciated. we know the only way to really get noticed in the scene is to get your head down for a year and tour constantly. but we cant afford to do it now we are all out of education and have bills to pay.

ATP: Now you are ending the year with 2 free EP’s. Tell us a bit about them?
TP: This has only really come about in the last month or so. We have been talking with Walnut Tree about doing a online Christmas calender, where people can come visit everyday, and get free downloads, win albums, EP's, shoes, clothes, poster etc. We thought it would be great to kick it all off on the 1st December with a free download e.p. of some older tracks people may not have heard, along with a couple off the album. We also did a podcast back in the summer, so we thought we could do two EP's with the acoustic tracks of that.

ATP: Why are they free?
TP: A few reasons really, the podcast was kindly recorded for free by James at Uber recordings so we always said we would never try make any money on that. We sold out of the "This is me breathing" EP, so that has run it's course. Also festive spirit and obviously to give people a try before you hopefully buy!

ATP: On the “Remembering Fondly” EP you have included 2 songs from “From Here To Your Eyes and Ears”. Is there any particular reason for this?
TP: Again, to give people a taster of what we have released, and as an e.p those two tracks work with the other three great, they are all big anthemic rock tunes.

ATP: What will you remember the year 2008 for?
TP: Wow, I only just thought what we have achieved this year, I haven't thought about it until now. We have released an album, toured three times, done a podcast, written 9 new songs for the next EP and recorded the new EP. Not a bad year really!

ATP: What music have you enjoyed this year?
TP: Well personally I have gotten into absolutely loads such as why?, Allgernon Cadwallader, The Helio Sequence, Bridge & Tunels, Good Luck, Born Ruffians, Anathello. the U.K scene is incredible at the moment, I'm loving of course A Broken Robot, who are going to do big things I hope, as well as The Xcerts, Secondsmile, Tubelord, Stapleton, Tellison, The Maple State, Scholars, the list is endless.

ATP: What have you got planned for 2009?
TP: We hope to release the next e.p called "These songs were written in bedrooms & village halls" early next year. we are booking for a February tour at the moment. We plan to do a couple more, with a dream to do some gigs in Europe.

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