Before: Sprague High School graduate, front-man of Salem band “Shepherds of Ontario”
Now: Keyboardist, back-up vocalist for “Portugal, The Man”
SW: How did you end up joining Portugal. The Man?
RN: In the summer of 2007, The Shepherds of Ontario (Neighbor’s former band) went on tour with Portugal, The Man. We didn’t open for them, we (Ryan, Kirk Ohnstad and Matt Moore) were their backing band… The initial summer tour ended up turning into a Europe tour and two more US tours. At the end of the tour, Portugal asked me if I could record on their new record, which eventually turned into me joining the band full time.
SW: Was there a moment when you realized, “hey, we’re kind of a big deal?” If so, when was it?
RN: (When we played) Bonnaroo in 2009, I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe our name is on the same poster as Kanye West and the Arcade Fire…” In February of 2010, we signed to Atlantic Records—walking through their office in New York, seeing all the platinum records on the wall, signing a six record contract—I thought, “wow, we have made it.” And then most recently, we played the Conan show—our first television appearance ever. That was a crazy feeling. But then you go see a band like Radiohead perform and you think, we aren’t (crap).
SW: Do you miss anything about playing in Shepherds of Ontario?
RN: Oh yes, a lot. We were a band for four years. Started in high school, went to Norway together, moved to Portland together. Needless to say, Matt, Kirk, and I were best friends before we even started playing music. We worked well together. We were very open about trying new things—and it should be obvious, but we had so much fun playing live.
SW: Do you have any advice for Salem musicians that aspire to be full-time rock stars?
RN: I would say to play as much as you possibly can. Live shows are the best kind of practice. You have to deal with technical problems as quickly as possible. (Another thing is) working on writing the best set list you can that doesn’t lose audience attention. But the main thing I would say is to play for different people. If you play for the same 20 friends every weekend, that is all that you will play for.
SW: What’s in PTM’s plans for the next year?
RN: In January we are heading to Europe to support the Black Keys for eight shows. We are ecstatic about this by the way, (because) we are all huge Black Keys fans. We are going to Australia for the first time ever right after that. Then in February we will probably start recording another record.
SW: When’s the next chance for Salemites to come check out PTM?
RN: We are playing the Crystal Ballroom on December 9th, but I believe it is already sold out. But we often do secret shows at friends bars and acoustic performances at record stores, so I am sure the opportunity will arise soon enough. I look forward to seeing Preston at a show.
Before: Willamette Noodle Company dishwasher, CCTV volunteer, Sprague High graduate
Now: KMTR (NBC Affiliate) Douglas County Bureau Chief
SW: When did you decide you wanted to start a career in TV news?
DA: It just kind of happened. I went to junior college in Gresham at Mt. Hood C.C. for video production. I was just making goofy short films with my friends. To graduate the program, you needed to do an internship somewhere. I basically had to choose between an internship at a production company making coffee for people making local T.V. commercials, or intern at a news station running around having newsy adventures. I interned at KPTV Fox 12 and it was super fun, everyone was cool, and I thought “I’ll just do this.”
SW: Is this your first job in the field?
DA: This is my first reporting job. After taking my awesome news internship, I ended up working at Willamette Noodle Company as a dish washer. It gets better… Then I was laid off and went on unemployment. But this gave me the opportunity to start volunteering, making videos for CCTV – (the) best place ever. If it weren’t for the videos I made at CCTV, I wouldn’t have gotten my first “real” job, which was at a super small station in Roseburg called KPIC, making TV advertisements. The place was so small, they let you do whatever you want, so I started doing news. Then this opening at a Eugene station came up, and I hustled like a mad man trying to get it. My persistence paid off.
SW: What is the strangest story you’ve ever covered?
DA: (A) story about a guy who allegedly chopped his uncle in the neck with an axe. I went over to the house where it happened, and ended up talking to the alleged-axe-swinging-guy’s dad, who witnessed the whole thing. He actually gave me a play by play of how it all went down, starting with an argument about (a video game), and ending on the still-bloody front deck where (the incident allegedly occurred). Then, during the interview, he starts talking about how his son isn’t violent and shouldn’t be in jail. I was thinking “you just told me your son got in an argument with his uncle and decided to resolve it by attacking him with an axe. What world do you live in where that is the non-violent approach?” Bizarre.
SW: What advice do you have for young-uns that wish to be TV news personalities?
DA: Just keep doing anything related to television or video production. Volunteer, get an internship, make stupid home movies with your friends, anything. If you have the (grades), and the money, or the will to get student loans, just take journalism at (University of Oregon).