Artist x Artist: Unknown Mortal Orchestra x Portugal. The Man

The Best Albums of 2023 (So Far)
The Best Albums of 2023 (So Far)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra Portugal the Man
Unknown Mortal Orchestra Portugal the Man

As the frontmen of alternative indie bands who reside in Portland, Or., John Gourley of Portugal. The Man and Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra went from having a mutual admiration for each other to becoming friends. Gourley shared that Nielson “is one of [Portugal’s] favorite artists,” and last summer, the two bands joined forces for “Summer of Luv.” Over a Zoom call, the two singers rekindled their bond during this edition of SPIN’s Artist x Artist series.

While they admit that they don’t hang out as much these days as they would like, Gourley took the opportunity early on during the conversation to open up about his feelings towards Nielson: “I gotta say, [you’re] one of the most inspiring artists I’ve ever been around. I know I never say this stuff to your face. I pretend like we barely know each other [or] care at all. … Just watching the music that you’ve made and the art you’ve made over the years, it’s just super inspiring. And it’s cool I have an opportunity to say that to your face, and then never do it again,” which elicited a laugh from Nielson.

More from Spin:

Also during their conversation, the two frontmen reflected on the lifestyle of touring, the behind-the-scenes of making music videos, and the connections between their different upbringings. They also talk about how they inspired each other through their newest albums, a funny night they had together at a comedy show, and the rewards of being a touring musician.

Gourley and Nielson are slated to hit the road in early 2024 with their respective groups. Both bands also released new albums in 2023 — Portugal’s ninth studio record, Chris Black Changed My Life, was released in June, and UMO’s fittingly titled fifth album, V, was released in March.

In the previous episode, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers sat down with Bush Tetras’ singer Cynthia Sley and guitarist Pat Place. In their conversation, the trio trade tour stories, including how Flea and Anthony Kiedis had to run from the Green Bay police in the dead of winter early in their career. They check up on old friends, former bandmates, and Sley and Place get the low down about Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studio in Malibu and his production style.

Additional episodes of Artist x Artist, available here, include conversations between Steve Aoki and members of Taking Back Sunday, Sara Kays and Alec Benjamin, Pom Pom Squad and Nada Surf, Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna and the Linda Lindas, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, Jonah Ray and “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sting with Shirazee, and Paris Jackson and Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra.

To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.