After losing two frontmen the former Portico Quartet are releasing a redefining album, Living Fields, and heading out on tour as Portico. Saxophonist Jack Wylie speaks to The Big Issue in the North ahead of shows in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool this week and next.
Have you changed direction since becoming Portico?
Yes. We had been developing and playing the same brand of music for almost 10 years, but our tastes in music were moving more towards electronic/ambient music and away from jazz. At one point we even wondered if it was worth continuing but decided to give it one last shot.
Are you worried about alienating fans who enjoyed the jazz influence in your previous records?
I think if you make music to cater to your fans’ tastes when they might not be the same as your own it’s probably not going to be a very rewarding or particularly artistic endeavour. I don’t think we thought about that side of it much when we were making the album. We were just focused on the music. Hopefully we’ll gain more fans than we lose.
Given this is your debut as a trio did you have any reservations about having guest vocalists rather than one consistent singer?
One of the benefits of not having a permanent singer is that you can use different voices to bring different things to each track. It’s all about making the voices work together though and picking the right vocalists for the right tracks.
How does each vocalist change the dynamics of the music?
Joe Newman of Alt-J has this quite nasal twang to his voice, so it can really cut through and be quite direct. Jono McCleery’s more soulful and laidback but can push through when he needs to – actually very versatile. Jamie Woon’s just got an incredible control to his voice, especially in the upper registers.
Who performs live vocals?
Jono does all the tracks live. Very well I might add.
Do you see the band line-up now as complete or do you think it will continue to evolve?
I really don’t know. I think it’s too early to think about at the moment.