Emily Dyan Ibarra
Members of the band Portugal. The Man: Jason Sechrist (drums), left; John Gourley (guitar, lead vocals); Zach Carothers (bass, background vocals); and Ryan Neighbors (keyboards, background vocals). It plays in Salt Lake City Wednesday.

As far as punctuation marks go, the period placement in this band's name — Portugal. The Man — is correct.

The band's history states when it came time to name the band, the members wanted a name that was bigger than life but not named after one band member. So they added "The Man" to the name.

"Portugal was the first country to come to mind," said guitarist/vocalist John Gourley during an interview from Ft. Lauderdale. "It signifies a group of people. The words 'The Man' after the period states that the band is one entity. So there you have it."

Gourley said when he realized that he couldn't play as well as his idol group the Beatles, he went into a state of depression.

"I actually hurt when I tried to sit down and play their songs," said Gourley. "I was only a kid and I found out that there was no way I was at that skill level.

"Even though we had instruments all over the house, I never felt like I was any good in the first place. And I was extremely shy in school to boot."

Still, Gourley, who was raised in Alaska, found the determination to learn every Beatles song he could.

"I bought a book with guitar tabs and forced myself to learn," he said. "I would go to school and then come home and sit in my room for hours figuring out the songs."

Those sessions helped Gourley eventually decide to form a group. He joined up with bassist Zach Carothers and formed Anatomy of a Ghost.

"At that time we were also into modern music and hip-hop," said Gourley. "We listened to everything from Oasis, Nirvana, Marilyn Manson and Blink 182 to Rage Against the Machine and the Wu-Tang Clan.

"We learned cool guitar stuff as well as developed a knack for rhythms and choruses from all these artists."

When Anatomy of Ghost disbanded in 2002, Gourley and Carothers recruited drummer Jason Sechrist and keyboardist Ryan Neighbors and formed Portugal. The Man.

"Zach had already left for Oregon and called me up and asked if I wanted to come join another band with him," said Gourley. "It's funny because I had no intention of being in a band, because I was so shy. But I loved playing music and loved writing songs. I always thought I'd be in the back ground, and if I did get into a band, be a backup musician."

However, the music called to Gourley, and the idea was to form a band that had a style between Wu-Tang and the Beatles.

"That was pretty ambitious," he said. "We have since learned that the Beatles and Wu-Tang are untouchable. So we trudge on doing what we feel we can do."

The latest result of the trudging is Portugal. The Man's new CD, "Censored Colors," the band's third full-length CD.

"We really focused on the songwriting for this one," said Gourley. "I'm more of a guitar-riff writer, and usually wrote stuff in the studio. The previous songs usually went like this: riff, loop, link. But this time we worked more on chords and music. And it worked out."

Gourley said the band's musical evolution is based on what the music wants.

"We are looking at our style and thinking we could do something in the dub-reggae sound," he said. "We don't have any connection with dub-reggae, but I know it makes me want to get off my seat and dance."

If you go ...

What: RX Bandits, Portugal. The Man

Where: Avalon, 3605 S. State

When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

How much: $13

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

E-mail: [email protected]