Named after the shipping town where founding member Geoff Barrow grew up, Portishead formed in Bristol, England, in 1991. Prior to the group's formation, Barrow had worked as a tape operator at the Coach House studio, where he met Massive Attack, worked with Tricky, and began to earn a reputation as a remix producer, working on tracks by Primal Scream, Paul Weller, Gabrielle, and Depeche Mode.
In 1991, Barrow met Beth Gibbons, who had been singing in pubs, and over the next few years, the pair began writing music, often with jazz guitarist Adrian Utley, who had previously played with both Big John Patton and the Jazz Messengers. Soon after working together on the short film, To Kill A Dead Man, Portishead signed with Go! Records and released their debut album, Dummy. Both Barrow and Gibbons were media-shy -- the vocalist refused to participate in any interviews -- which meant that the album received little attention outside of the weekly U.K. music press. Yet the record became an unexpected success in Britain, topping most year-end critics polls and earning the prestigious Mercury Music Prize; in America, it also became an underground hit, selling over 150,000 copies before the group toured the U.S.
After their initial success, Portishead withdrew from the spotlight for three years until their second album, Portishead, was released in 1997. The same year the band performed a one-off show with strings by the New York Philharmonic orchestra at Roseland Ballroom in New York, releasing the live album in 1998.
Now, after going 10 years without releasing any new material and only performing live a handful of times, Portishead has returned with a much-anticipated new studio album, aptly titled Third. A European tour to support the album has been announced, together with a headline spot at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 26, 2008.