If ever there were a need for Portugal to have something approaching the quintessential (and successful) adult alternative band, then Toranja fit that description to a T. Lead singer/guitarist/piano man Tiago Bettencourt was the force behind their formation. Around him, he gathered Ricardo Frutuoso (guitar), Dodi (b. Jorge Pamplona, bass), and Rato (b. Pedro Lima, drums). Almost immediately, Toranja started slogging it hard, grabbing gigs wherever they could. In 2001, all the hard work gradually started to pay off, as the song "Fome (Nesse Sempre)" was included in an unsigned band compilation and managed to grab moderate airplay on a national level; this in spite of some accusations (especially regarding Bettencourt's singing) that the band's style hewed too closely to that of celebrated Portuguese singer/songwriter Jorge Palma -- a claim that would never really desert them. Summer festival gigs followed, as did another single in 2002, "Toma a Tua Bola de Football."
All this set the stage for their debut album. Anticipated by the rocking single "Cenário (Janela No Rio)," Esquissos was released in early 2003. At first, sales were slow. That soon changed as the second single, an acoustic lovelorn ballad entitled "Carta," was included in both a TV commercial and the soundtrack to a prime-time soap. The song became one of that summer's biggest smashes, sending Esquissos to platinum status, as the band also played sold-out venues through to 2004. Toranja soon reconvened to record their second album. The result, Segundo, arrived in May 2005, with first single "Laços" grabbing respectable airplay, as did "Música de Filme." And even though it became a gold record, Segundo only sold about half as much as the debut. As soon as touring commitments died down, the band announced an indefinite hiatus in early 2006, from which it hasn't yet emerged. In the meantime, Tiago Bettencourt issued a moderately successful solo album in 2007, while the other bandmembers formed the side project Rizoma, whose debut album was self-released in the same year. ~ Ricardo Rainho