Junior story: ‘Portishead: Harvest Moon′, November 2011

A story on iconic trip-hop three-piece, Portishead, built from an interview with multi-instrumentalist Adrian Utley. Click on the scanned image for a closer look, or read the article excerpt underneath.


“I’m sorry if you tried to get me yesterday,” the words tumble down the line before we’ve even had the chance to properly introduce ourselves, “I was out, off radar a little bit, and wasn’t getting any signal. So I’m really sorry if you did try. I don’t usually get that problem.”

Utley has been in the countryside for a week, hence the patchy phone reception. But it’s early August and a call from Junior HQ isn’t the only thing he’s missed. Violent street riots have been spreading from one major English city to the next following a fatal police shooting in the London suburb of Tottenham, and the multi-instrumentalist is just catching up with the latest news in his hometown of Bristol.

“There was some action here,” he explains, “but I haven’t seen anything and haven’t been affected by it, although I guess we’ve all been affected by it in one way or another.”

Utley joined Portishead in 1994, then a recording project between producer Geoff Barrow and vocalist Beth Gibbons. The trio have since become renowned for an ability to mobilise emotion through their music, so it’s natural to wonder if the riots and what they’ve come to represent – austerity economics, class warfare and racial tension – will slip into their future work.

“It will do, yeah. Geoff and I don’t write lyrics, so there’s not that there. But I think stuff from [the band’s 2008 album] ‘Third’: that sound was inspired by the way we were living at that time, politically. Similarly, the state of the UK around us is pretty fucked and if you start talking about it you end up in a mad chain of terror throughout the world, don’t you? It’s just fucking endless, and that is the state that we live in, and I think your state of being is what makes your music.”

There was a time, about five years ago, when many began to wonder if Portishead would continue to make music at all. It ended up being an 11 year gap between 1997’s Portishead and Third, and while for most the wait was worth it, it seemed in recent times that the band had once again gone back into post-release hibernation.

But over the last year the sleeping giant of the British music scene has once again been showing signs of life, playing occasional shows before touring ceaselessly during the recent northern festival circuit.

Full the full article, visit Junior Magazine.

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