With the brand new Portugal The Man album out today, Who's Jack snapped up a chance to have a chat with the band on their recent trip to the UK, and here's what we found out...
Firstly, let’s start with the name of the new album, Woodstock, where did that come from?
It’s a small time in up state New York. We were referencing the music festival in 1969 - basically we had been working on a bunch of music over the last couple of years. 3 albums worth of material. Over the course of the weekend - we tried to write 100 tracks and pick the 10 best - but we’re super unfocused so we didn’t stop writing music, which was spiralling out of control! We loved so much of it but the loss of control was a bit much. We were up in Alaska and our friends dad asked what was taking so long. We explained it’s a little more than just recording and releasing; but he also showed us an envelope with a ticket stub in it. He’d given an old tool box to a friend and the friend was cleaning it out and found the old original ticket to Woodstock. Seeing a lot of similarities in the political and social climate to back then, we thought it would be appropriate. The ticket was only 8 dollars! What that festival meant to our parents, acts like Kurt Cobain etc - people on the streets with signs etc. So we scrapped the old record and went in and wrote a completely new one. The old album wasn’t right, so we took a few bits and made something new. We needed the album to say something about the current shit that’s going on with Trump.
Sonically this album has moved slightly away from your previous albums, were you ever worried that fans may not like the new music?
Never really worried about that. Our fans know we change drastically with every album. A lot of times old fans don’t like that but we always think of each album as practice. We’re a new band, this is what we do. We can’t try to make music for anyone else. We’re very involved with our fans over social media and in person. When it comes to music we have to be selfish. We can’t tickle each person individually. If an old fan doesn’t like it, he still has the old tunes. A new one might come on board from the new project! We won’t ever stop changing. We like to evolve. We’re never going to stay the same.
You pretty much released an album a year up until Evil Friends, but there’s now been a four year gap between that and this new album. Was that quite jarring to the rhythm of the band, or was it quite easy to adapt to?
It totally fucked with us. We wrote more than an albums worth every year and we just had to do something different.
You worked with Mike D and Danger Mouse on this record, how did that collaboration come about?
Mutual friends really. We worked with Danger Mouse on the previous record - he’s a really good friend and an incredibly smart and talented man. So we wanted to go back in with him. He’s always been very welcome with us coming to his studio. He really gets the best out of you and makes you do it yourself. Steering you in the right direction & motivating you in the right way. He brings that organic super cool vibe - he’s always got that style.
With Mike, working with him was huge. We’ve been huge Beastie Boys fans for as long as i can remember. Working with him was so much fun because he made us get crazy creative. The craziest idea is the one that will work - the Beastie Boys could do whatever the hell they wanted and people loved it… we had to reign that in slightly. We were out in Malibu at Rick Rubin’s studio - it’s the most beautiful place, so it was very surprising and lyrically we were writing endlessly. Beyonce and Kanye recorded there, it’s amazing!
The video for "Feel It Still" is really interesting, it links to websites that fight Climate Change and fund planned parenthood, how did that idea come about?
We teamed up with an ad agency in Portland who are incredibly smart and incredibly funny people. We decided to make a video together and brainstorm. We knew we wanted something interactive and we settled on the duality of man - the dichotomy of the drug-ridden rockstar video and a bunch of hidden easter eggs that go to different causes - of things we find important. It’s a starter pack, a tool kit, to help you get involved with something - this is what we’re into. When we donate, when we do charity, this is what is important to us and what we would donate to.
We’re from Alaska so we do a lot for the environment so we have seen climate change first hand.
General equality... for races, genders etc.
London - what do you think?
It’s awesome, we love coming over here. The history of music from UK and London. Going to places you’ve seen in pics. We’d look at The Beatles, The Stones, so many iconic things from London and i really love it. We love contrast - when you can see two very different sides all in one place - London is so like that. The tough parts VS the soft ‘proper’ parts. People trying to follow rules and people trying to break them - everywhere.
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