There’s something a little unhinged on “What Lives,” the debut from Portland pop powerhouse In the Audience, and that is definitely a good thing. In the Audience can craft tight, snarly tracks because the group has put in the elbow grease to earn some passion points.

Although the musicians hail from two countries, they thrive in the Portland scene, as loyal to our icy brick alleys as the winter wind.

Before their record-release throwdown at 9 p.m. Saturday at Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St. ($6 cover; ages 21 and older), GO caught up with Jordan Stowell (vocals, guitars) and Cam Jones (drums, vocals) to find out what else the newbies have cooking up. Visit the band’s website at

What happens when Portland and Toronto are mixed in the same stew?

Jones: I’d say that you get some cool sounds. What’s hip in Toronto suddenly becomes hip with us, and vice-versa. Jordan and Sonia’s voice (Sonia Sturino, vocals, keyboards and guitar) mesh really well, and it’s great to incorporate that into our sound.

How did Kate Bush impact “What Lives?”

Stowell: The album is structured in a way similar to Kate Bush’s album “Hounds of Love.” The first half of the album is made up of pop songs and the second half is made up of more experimental and new sounds. “Hounds of Love” was a huge success, and allowed her full creative control to do whatever she wanted in and outside of the standard pop spectrum. This allowed us to not feel like we needed to rein in our ideas to fit any certain molds or conceptions. 

A five-piece is a haul. Do you guys always get along?

Stowell: I think the key for us is that we all respect each other as musicians and we don’t try to hang out as a full band. We generally do things together in groups of two, whether it’s writing music for the band or just doing social activities. The only time we seem to really ever clash is when it comes to writing the music, but that’s to be expected, as everyone wants to have their ideas and interests expressed. 

What are the band’s next moves after the release party?

Stowell: We’re shooting a music video for the song “American Names” in the next few weeks. We’re recording some bonus tracks right now for the Japanese and Canadian editions of the album, which will both be released towards the end of the year. We’re hoping to do some higher-profile Portland shows in the coming months. 

What’s the best part about coming up in Portland?

Jones: How small and tight-knit the community is. You can really make a mark if you work, work, work. There are a lot of opportunities here if bands (and the music scene) are willing to come at it from the right angle. 

When you sit down to write, what sounds first come to mind?

Jones: Some of our new songs (which aren’t on the album) are moving away from the basic rock-pop sound you hear on the first half of “What Lives.” They’re becoming a more collaborative venture, and you can hear it. Everyone is driving their own part. I don’t want to give too much away. 

Who’s the best Portland live band and why?

Stowell: Jacob and The House of Fire. The musicians are all incredible, and the songs are all so powerful. It makes me proud to say we’re from the same state.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.