Port O'Brien began as the bedroom recording project of Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin. As the songs grew legs and spread among friends, live performances became inevitable. Sprouting from the isolated coastal village of Cambria, California (yes, her namesake) the band collected kindred spirits along the way and has blossomed into a full band. The band released "All We Could Do Was Sing" in 2008 to a rapturous response from Australian audience off the back of the joyous singalong single, “I Woke Up Today”. All We Could Do Was Sing captured the life Van and Cambia lived throughout their never ending summers in Alaska. Van is a commercial fisherman, spending every summer on his father's fishing boat off the coast of Kodiak Island. Cambria is the head baker at the cannery in Larson Bay, supplying pastries, breads, and deserts for the entire seasonal fishing community.
But with the release of their first album, their lives were no longer seasonal. They toured. And toured. And toured. Australia was one of the places the band visited to get audiences stomping and clapping and invading the stage at Laneway Festival. They were one of the highlights of the urban gig and had people banging pots and pans and screaming along at their own headline shows. They were on the road all year long, shifting inspirations from the desolation and hard work of Alaska to the experience of seeing the world through the windows of a tour van.
As 2009 began, the band started to prepare songs for what was to become "Threadbare". What started as a light-hearted and loose effort quickly turned into a dense, introspective work following the tragic loss of Cambria's younger brother. They started recording at their friend Jason Quever's living room studio in San Francisco. The songs were given a certain warmth and intimacy that couldn't be achieved in a larger space. The sense of comfort they found gave them the ability to fully realize the weight of the songs. "In the Meantime" explore the desire for contentment in tumultuous times. "High Without the Hope" bookends the album, illuminating the emotion and sense of loss that was felt throughout the recording process.
After spending weeks recording with Jason, the band felt they could work in a more open space. They worked on the more celebratory and rhythmic songs in Los Angeles with Aaron Espinoza at the Ship. "My Will is Good" and "Oslo Campfire" describe the liberation that follows in the wake of making active changes in one's life following tragedy.
Together these sessions create "Threadbare". It’s become somewhat of a two sided record with dark, haunting, and at times meditative songs paired up with the untiring, somewhat aggressive and punchy anthems that Port O'Brien is becoming known for. The last few years have seen many adventures for the band. The creation of this record came with continuing changes both within the band personally, and sonically. Port O'Brien will continue to evolve. In the meantime, Threadbare stands as another mark this young band has left.
Threadbare is out now.