Musical Map Of The USA: Alaska—Portugal. The Man

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Alaska is a beautiful and special place to grow up. Our surroundings played an extremely important role in our decision to do what we do, why we do it and how we do it. There is overwhelming sense of isolation there. Freedom and space to do as you please and develop a natural connection with the environment. Not a lot of people telling you what to think or what to do. I think that space and isolation is what helped us find ourselves and soak in untouched and untainted influence.


For me and many others, Alaska is an escape. Mentally and physically. A huge world for us as children relatively untouched by man. A lack of society but still a strong sense of community. It’s strange. I picture it as a blank canvas but already filled with every color you can imagine. It’s all there to push around into any shape you can think of. The extremes in weather instill a deep understanding of contrast as well. 24 hours of light and color for a few months in the summer followed by a long dark winter. Cold and desaturated. Beautiful and clean.
One of the only outside voices we had was music. Luckily, both John and I had parents with extensive record collections. Listening was a big part of growing up around our house. Laying out all the album covers on the floor. Reading the lyrics, looking at the crazy art and fashion. Things we never saw in real life. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and CSNY. A ton of Michael Jackson as well. Pretty much all of the best. I was always into music and played saxophone for about 11 years through school. A huge event for me was when I found Nirvana. They were my band. Nothing my parents or older cousins showed me. I connected to the energy immediately and pulled my Dad’s acoustic guitar out of the closet. For the first time, I heard something that made me want to create. At 12 years old I was obsessed.
Over the next few years I dug in deep. I used snowboard and skate videos to find low brow punk rock and hip hop and truly found a connection between life and music. Wether it was Simon and Garfunkel on a long morning drive with my Dad to go fishing or Pantera blasting out of my truck stereo for the bonfires out at the old airstrip. Every song and every sound was finding a place. We wrote a lot of shitty songs trying to learn how things work and thats a big part of the journey. Some were serious, some were just for the fun and the party. Honestly I think it took leaving Alaska for us to really figure things out.
Once we moved down to the Lower 48, we got flooded with all sorts of underground music and art. We were thirsty. Traveling around we started to learn so much about the world and how different and unique our childhood was. We have always been very visual with our lyrics and sounds. We were finally learning how to express them in our music. Our family and surroundings have always been and continue to be a huge part of the music we write. Alaska has shaped who we are and what we do. We realize that more and more everyday.
This is one of more than 50 posts that make up our musical map of the United States, published by region—the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast—by writers who have strongly associated a song with a state.

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