Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hometowns | Priory [Portland, OR]

Photo courtesy of Expunged Records

Back in June, we were first introduced to Portland's Priory, and we instantly made the single, "Lady of Late" our Jam of the Day. The band's self-titled debut album is spending a lot of time in our speakers, and so we were very excited to talk with Greg Harpel, lead guitarist for Priory, about the band's hometown of Portland for our new(ish) feature on the blog, Hometowns. This feature was designed to focus on the relationship between the band's cultural roots and its current sound and let the band members pay homage to the place from which they come! Cool? Cool.

First of all, what a fantastic place to call your hometown. I've not yet had the pleasure of visiting, but all of my friends tell me how incredible Portland is. What do you miss most about the city when you're on tour?

What we miss most I suppose is our community of family of friends. It's unreal how many people are involved in making Priory what it is. We've been lucky as a band to have such quality support, be it through those we work with professionally or our loved ones who wholeheartedly support this initiative. Portland isn't what it is as a city without this, and we feel this mad love from the people who come to our shows as well as those we come home to at the end of the day.

If you had 24 hours to go back to Portland tomorrow, what would you do? Talk me through the the spots that you'd visit and why. 

We always seem to converge on the Montavilla neighborhood in Portland, partially for the reason that a few of us live there. There's a place there called the Observatory that we always seem to go back to. Great food/drinks/ environment. Happy hour there often becomes our boardroom. Also in Montavilla is Bipartisan Cafe and the Academy Theater, just two places that are examples of Portland's extremely walkable amenities.

What are some of your favorite Portland venues to play? Any plans for a homecoming show in the future?

Two of our favorite places to play in Portland are Mississippi Studios and the Doug Fir. Great sound, great rooms, great hospitality. We actually just got back from our summer tour [two weeks ago] to play the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair, this annual event where they close down the street for live music and local vendors. Thousands of people come out. A great time every year. Had a lot of fun playing.

So many Northwestern bands of late have become known for a sort of "folk revival" sound. Does Priory take any cues from this trend? It seems like the beauty of that part of the country would be hard to deny when it comes to finding inspiration and writing music.

You know, there may be elements in the music that draw influence from folk classics, but in general we would not consider ourselves of the folk revival category. We do our best to fill a dynamic sonic space, both with instrumentation and arrangement. We have a rich environment, variety of backgrounds, and community of musicians from which to draw influence.

Have you ever written a song about your hometown, or paid homage to some aspect of Portland in your lyrics?

I can't say that we've ever written a song overtly about Portland, but so much of our lives have been involved with the community here that is uniquely Portland. So in a lot of ways, the music cannot help but pay homage to the city.

Three cheers for Portland in the form of Priory's new video for "Lady of Late." 

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