By Rogelio Cazares
Portugal. The Man release this week their eight studio album, ‘Woodstock‘, produced by Mike D from The Beastie Boys. “Noise Pollution“, “Feel It Still“, and “Number One” gave fans an idea of what to expect of the long-awaited album from the Alaskan band.
We spoke with frontman John Gourley about the making of ‘”Woodstock‘, their evolution as a band, and the world we live in.
This month you are releasing your new album ‘Woodstock’. After 8 albums, how much do you think you have changed as a band? I’m sure influences change too as time passes by, right?
Oh we are constantly changing. We’re mostly inspired by our experiences. Every time we tour or go anywhere new. Every time we meet new people. Always learning and always looking for something new to write about.
How was working with Mike D and Danger Mouse for this album? It’s not the first time you work with Danger Mouse right?
So amazing. The Beastie Boys are a huge influence. Meeting and working with Mike was insane. Such a creative guy. Made us really think outside of what we would normally do. Danger Mouse always knows how to get the best out of us. He is unbelievably smart and totally brings a cool vibe to the table.
I heard you actually changed the name of the album to ‘Woodstock’ because you found a ticket of the original Woodstock festival? How and when did that happened? Did you just changed the name or did you actually began on another album from scratch?
Yeah John’s dad had loaned a buddy a tool box in the 70’s or 80’s and just recently cleaned it out. In the bottom, he found his original ticket to Woodstock and mailed it back to him. It just really hit us hard for some reason. Seeing similarities between the social and political climates of the late 60’s and now, we decided to ditch the album we had been working on and write something new. We saved a few things from the previous album, but for the most part, we went new.
Now that we mentioned Woodstock, would you say that bands from that time were more socially conscious? Are artists nowadays a bit more selfish?
Yes. That era was certainly more of a movement. But things always change. Because of social media, artist who want to change things can have a much louder voice in the world these days. I think artist back then really had to work together to make something happen.
The songs shared so far from ‘Woodstock’ sound really amazing. I can’t imagine how the rest of the album will be. How was the process of making this album? When did you began writing these songs?
We began writing some of these almost 3 years ago. For the most part everything else was done over the last year. When you spend that much time you really go through it all. Pain, happiness, self loathing. Ha. Everything.
We never talk about politics on our site, but I’m interested to know how you feel and what you think about what’s going on not only in the US, but in the rest of the world. Hate, racism, terrorism… many bad things are going on. Do you think we are in a point of no return?
We’ve never considered ourselves a political band. We grew up on Rage Against The Machine and we can’t do it better than them. We’ve always stood for things that have only recently been politicized. Equal rights for races and genders, clean water and environmental causes shouldn’t be political. But I guess they are now. Shit is pretty fucked, but there is still plenty of good in the world. I’m a positive person. I don’t think we’re too far gone.
The interactive version of the video for “Feel It Still” has several hidden spots where fans can find links to non-profit organizations. How did you came up with the idea?
We worked with our friends Wieden + Kennedy for the video. They are the smartest and most funny people we know. Those are just a few of the causes that we care about. We wanted to focus on the juxtaposition of artist these days. On the surface some druggy lead singer fuckery, but supporting and caring at the same time. We wanted it to be smart and interactive.
‘Woodstock‘ is released on June 16th on Atlantic Records.