When Orlando Weekly spoke to Kyle O'Quin of Portugal the Man, the band's keyboardist had no idea where they were. Settling into the sixth week of their national tour, the band were more keen on their destination than their current location. "A parking lot somewhere?" O'Quin laughs. "We're close to Washington."
Washington, D.C., is a significant stop for Portugal the Man, whose latest single, "Feel It Still," from upcoming album Woodstock, is aimed in solidarity with the undercurrent of political resistance.
"Feel It Still" has a groovy bassline reminiscent of 1960s pop, and all the sonic characteristics of an upbeat summer hit. Lyrically, however, the song resonates more deeply than its beachy vibe. Lead vocalist and founding member John Gourley croons, "Ooh, I'm a rebel just for kicks, I been feeling it since 1966 now. Might be over now, but I feel it still," taking subtle aim at the general concept of lackadaisical political resistance. Although the tune is lighthearted, the message is rooted in truth.
The music video for "Feel It Still" can be watched on most major video streaming platforms, but to get the full effect, fans should head to feelitstill.com for an interactive version. A "roadmap to resistance," of sorts, the interactive version has 30 hidden Easter eggs, which, when clicked, offer guidance on how to be an active participant in political resistance. Among the Easter eggs embedded in the video are links to help viewers take individual political responsibility, like the link to a transparency petition on ACLU.org that appears 15 seconds into the opening sequence, accompanied by the message "Donate to the ACLU." The experience is educational, unique and also eminently listenable – a combination that is increasingly rare.
Despite the many interpretations of the video's intent, O'Quin makes it very clear that the song and accompanying visuals are not meant to influence, but rather, to inform. "It wasn't really about being political," he says of the "Feel It Still" video. "It was about being a good person. Issues like gender and racial equality, when did those become political issues? We're kind of throwing it in your face. We wanted to show people, if you want to donate to anybody, to help, these are the people who are doing a good job of it."
Woodstock will be the first full-length album from Portugal the Man since the 2013 release of Evil Friends. For a band that was known for releasing a record a year for almost a decade, the four-year hiatus was new territory for their fans, but a much-needed reprieve for the band. "People want a constant flow of music, which is something that we always want to give," O'Quin says. "That gap was just a one-time gap to kind of rejuvenate, but just because we weren't putting out music doesn't mean we were sitting around. "
As a matter of fact, before the announcement of Woodstock, Portugal the Man had recorded an entirely separate album, titled Gloomin & Doomin, which was originally slated to be their next studio release. After four years of recording, and a very blunt heart-to-heart with frontman Gourley's father, the decision was made to shelve the project and start from scratch.
The band are much happier with the resulting album, and are excited to share their latest work with fans as they tour, leading up to the June 2017 release date.
"Gloomin & Doomin was not the record for the world right now. Woodstock, at the moment, is just going to be more relevant to how people feel right now," O'Quin says. Not only that, but collaborations with industry influencers like the Beastie Boys' Mike D. and Danger Mouse make for a promising comeback that both fans and creators are eagerly anticipating.
"We're just as excited about this album as anyone else," O'Quin says. "It's gonna be awesome."