Alter The Press!


Interview: Portman

Earlier this year Alter The Press! favourites, Portman announced they were to go on an indefinite hiatus. However before the band call it a day, they are set to release one final EP, 'These Songs Were Written In Bedrooms & Village Halls'.

With the band coming to an end, Sean thought it would be fitting to have a few final words with lead singer Matt, about the bands final EP, the reasons for the hiatus and what comes next for the Stamford-based 5 piece.

ATP: Who are you and what do you in Portman?
Hi, I'm Matt and I sing.

ATP: Before you pull down the curtain on Portman. You're releasing on final EP called 'These Songs Were Written In Bedrooms & Village Halls;. What can old and new fans expect from the EP?
Matt: I think that musically it’s a lot more to the point, without trying or knowing all the songs are shorter, and catchier. I think that it follows on from the album nicely without being like a part 2 or anything.

ATP: How has Portman changed and developed musically since last years 'From Here to Your Eyes and Ears'?
M:We're definitely more poppy and fun than we were back then, for a while I think we were in danger of taking ourselves too seriously, but this has always been about fun. I've always loved what we've come up with, and i've always been excited by how much we step it up each time we get together. So really this is all just a natural progression.

ATP: Last time we spoke. You said the album lyrical theme included about being free after leaving education and home and how fucked up the world is with war, corporation and religion. Are there any themes running through 'These Songs Were Written In Bedrooms & Village Halls’?
M: I don’t know really. Because I knew they were the last songs we were going to write I had specific things I wanted to write songs about. So it was more about rounding everything off in my own head than sticking to a theme. These songs are more about my own life than about my view of the world in that respect. If that makes sense?!?! That said when we were doing the album we went about it in exactly the same way. Just have different stuff going on. Plus there are only so many songs you can write about comic books....

ATP: Were any of the songs written anywhere except in bedrooms and village halls?
M: Nope. We literally only ever practiced in 2 proper practice rooms, 1 in Liverpool years ago before a gig, and a few times in a place in Peterborough (near where we live, and again years ago) when the village halls we're all booked up. We used to practice in a village called Carlby but we managed to get in with the Essendine Crew which was awesome because it’s about 5 minutes closer to home. We'd always use the other hall if one was booked out, which was the cause of much confusion let me tell you! But yeah these songs we're all either written in James's bedroom or Essendine Village hall.... you heard it here first! haha.

ATP: Earlier this year you played a few dates with label-mates, Bayonets. How did those shows go?
M: Really well, most of the shows had a good turn out. We all just love hanging out together and don't get much chance these days so it’s always a party when we do. Before we went out we were like 'this is it, this is our last tour' but whilst we we're out we we're all like 'well you know, we could always do it again next year'. We love touring, especially with cool bands.

ATP: So now Portman comes to an end. How come?
M: We all live hours apart, and as much as we'd all love to carry on, it would gradually and naturally slip out of everyone’s priorities and fade away. We've done it long enough to feel like we deserve to send it out in style I guess. It’s not to say we will or won’t ever do anything again. We're just making sure we're all on the same page. Plus I want to miss it, instead of being glad it’s over.

ATP: Would the factor of being an independent band being adding to the decision to split? In addition to this, has the current state of the economy affected the decision?
M: Only in the sense that we need money to live, if we were able to live off the band, then the band would go on and on. But that’s not realistic, and we've all got other things we want to do, and as much as we all love the band, it’s not a good enough reason to all stay in Stamford. That’s just sort of counter productive. If the band made a little money or even paid for its self, we'd still stop, the band is not motivated by money. We all are though, and we need to work jobs and get on with our lives and whatnot.

ATP: Jonny Marr recently said The Smiths were offered millions to reform. How much would it cost for Portman to reform in the future?
M: Not a lot, probably just good times and enough money for it to not cost us. Every one has there price and ours is really low.

ATP: How will you look back on your time with Portman, both personally and as a band?
M: Very fondly, this band has existed for what feels like forever, and we've all done loads of cool stuff together, it makes you really comfortable with each other. These guys are my best friends and we've had some amazing times together. It’s been like everyone’s life growing up. But we did something productive, and documented it and have something to show for it for the rest of our lives. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

ATP: Are there any particular moments that will stick out and you will tell to your grandkids?
M: Recording the album was literally the best 2 weeks i've had. That and touring with A Broken Robot (ABR) when there was at least 10 of us in the van. One night we were driving back from London, and everyone’s sat on the bunk chilling and I just hear Neil (from ABR) shout, 'PUT OUT OR GET OUT' at this girl we we're giving a lift. I laughed so hard it hurt.

ATP: If there was one Portman track you could be remembered for, what would it be and why?
M: Probably Facts!!! it’s a fun, nice, happy song and I like to think that we all walked away at the end happy so it fits for me. That and its catchy as hell.

ATP: How you would want Portman to be remembered?
M: Honestly I’d love to be thought of as underrated, and missed by a select few. I really would love it if people thought this last CD was kick ass. I'd just love the fact that there are people out there who genuinely like our music. It’s mental!?

ATP: Are any of you planning to continue working within music? If so, what do you have planned?
M: I think Toby and Luke have something going in Manchester with some friends, the rest of us have talked about the possibility of something happening but yeah nothing at the moment. PORTMAN ISN"T OVER YET!!!!

ATP: Any final words?
M: I’d just like to thank you for your support, and for taking the time to give me these questions. Also thanks to anyone who picks up a CD or helps out in anyway. We really do love you for it.

Portman's final EP 'These Songs Were Written In Bedrooms & Village Halls' is available to pre-order for £3 through Walnut Tree Records online store and will be released on July 14th.

Portman's final show will take place at Stamford Riverside Festival this Saturday (July 4th).

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!