"The only constant is change and I can promise that every single Portugal album that comes out will be different than the one before and that it was the album we wanted to make." - Kyle O' Quin
By now, a lot of people are familiar with Portugal. The Man especially after their latest hit "Feel It Still". This Alaskan band is made up of John Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O' Quin, and Jason Sechrist and Eric Howk. Portugal. The Man has been around for about fifteen years. It began as John Gourley's and Zach Carothers side project in 2002 up until the band evolved to what is today. Many of their hits throughout the years include "The Sun", "Purple Yellow Red Blue", "Modern Jesus", "Atomic Man", "So Young" and "Feel It Still".
What's exciting is that Portugal. The Man will be visiting the Sun City (El Paso) on October the thirteenth. Local band, The Chamanas, will be opening the show for them. These two bands have collaborated before and it will be exciting to see what they have in store. Portugal. The Man is excited to come to El Paso and they are definitely stoked to play at the Plaza Theater. I recently had the opportunity to ask Kyle O'Quin of Portugal. The Man some questions regarding the bands new material and The Chamanas.
Many people are not aware that before their latest album "Woodstock" came out, they had another album in the works called "Gloomin + Doomin". However, they did away with it and felt it imperative to start another album all together. John Gourley found an original Woodstock ticket in his father's belongings and that marked the beginning of what would become the "Woodstock" album. They did not throw out everything in "Gloomin + Doomin". Kyle said, "“I’m a rebel just for kicks” was a lyric we wrote when we started recording G + D. It was exciting in some ways, we had made 9 versions of some songs and worked with different people and we got so deep, we lost a little perspective." He mentioned that in the process it is important to throw ideas around and it's all part of a healthy creative process in any case.
From that decision came out the new global sensation which is their song "Feel It Still". Finally, (in my opinion) the band is getting the recognition they deserve after so many years playing. I asked Kyle what the band's reaction was to how quickly the song gained popularity. "We were stoked. We weren’t trying to write a “hit”, we just want to write good songs and that specific one came together in a matter of hours. It came together so naturally it kind of avoids that formulaic pop shit you hear on the radio or the feeling those songs give you when you hear them." It really is refreshing to hear something like that on the radio for a change and it's also very catchy. I can't help dance to it myself.
The new album cover features an old Rolls Royce bursting in flames which is different from their past albums which feature artwork specifically associated with Portugal. The Man. So, I could not help but ask what was the inspiration behind the new album. When one thinks of Woodstock, hippies, musicians, and festival goers are what comes to mind and not a car bursting. Kyle mentioned that the inspiration behind the new album cover was not planned. His friend Josh Welsh was driving his family to the Los Angeles Disneyland when he saw it and took a candid picture of it. "There’s so much symbolism in the image, and we really don’t always like putting our band name on everything single thing we make. We love that it’s an old Rolls Royce, kind of represents old money and a lot of the assholes in the world right now. Let’s burn this motherfucker down."
Portugal. The Man is a band that is also known for releasing albums every 1-2 years and it is impossible not to think about the pressure that might be put on a band. Pressure not only to produce music, but also to make it good. I asked Kyle whether the band felt pressured or were somewhat afraid of failure for which he responded, "We don’t feel pressure in the common way most artists do. We’ve always had amazing support from our team, we all want the same things and always have. To write timeless songs. The only constant is change and I can promise that every single Portugal album that comes out will be different than the one before and that it was the album we wanted to make."
For those that don't know, their album "In the Mountain In the Cloud" was mostly recorded at Sonic Ranch, which is outside of El Paso and it's located in Tornillo, Texas about forty minutes away. I asked Kyle about what the band thought of that experience. "The guy Tony that runs is a genuine bad ass, one of our favorite people. We love it there, it’s always been one of our favorite studios and we’ve recorded there multiple times. ITMITC wasn’t the easiest album to make for the band, each one’s a little different, but the time at Sonic Ranch really was the best part of that whole album’s process."
While discussing this, I had to ask Kyle how it was like meeting The Chamanas, about The Chamanas having had recorded two of Portugal. The Man's songs in Spanish, and what they thought of them. "Well Manny Calderon who’s in the band actually works at Sonic Ranch. We’ve known Manny for years and absolutely love him. They had asked about doing a cover, and it turns out we like their version better than ours ha. They’re such a good band, they have to stop recording cooler versions of our songs…I got to talk to Manny." Both the English and Spanish versions of the songs are fantastic. I really recommend people hear both.
To end the interview, I asked what the band looked the most forward to while in El Paso to which he responded, "Food, drink, food, drink, food, drink. I’m not going to name names but one of our favorite restaurants in the world is in Mexico City. Also, without sounding cliche, the people. The shows there have an energy we don’t always feel in the states, it’s hard to explain. But we feel crazy love from Mexico and we want to give some love back to one of our favorite cities. We’re beyond excited." El Paso and myself are excited to have Portugal. The Man. It's about time!
I want to thank Kyle O'Quin, Portugal. The Man, and their management team for the lovely attention. Go check out all their music videos on Youtube. All songs are available on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, ect.
More information on Woodstock specifically can be found on: http://www.portugaltheman.com/bio.
Samal Ayuka: "Named after Samalayuca, the desert dunes on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico."
The band's name is self-explanatory, plus it's fun to say, it's one of those names you want to repeat because it sounds good. Samal Ayuka is a Juarense band made up Oscar Daniel Segundo (vocals/guitar), Juan Pablo Gutierrez "Pita" (Drums), Fernando Burgos (Keys) , Jorge Vazquez "Chito" (bass), Erland Ramirez Cardiel (Keys) and Hector Ruiz "Reez" (Drums). These band members have known each other since high school, but the most interesting part, which some people might not know, is that they have collaborated on different well known projects like: Hello Seahorse!, Teen Flirt, Laboratories, The Jungles and Sistemas Vocales. This band is about a year old, but have many great projects coming this year and the potential is infinite.
I have to admit that even though I am from the border region, I barely discovered this band five months ago when I was scrolling through Twitter. I stumbled upon an interview done by Le Butcherettes , where Teri Genderbender (vocalist of Le Butcherettes) was asked what five songs she would recommend and one of them happened to be a song by Samal Ayuka. When she mentioned that they were from Chihuahua I was like "What??!!", so as any reasonable person would do I immediately turned to Youtube to listen to Samal Ayuka and then and there I became a huge fan of theirs.
Samal Ayuka has recently released their latest single "Paranoico" , which is only the beginning because the band is expected to release a full length album soon. Hopefully sometime in the beginning of next year. I recently caught up with Oscar (vocalist) to discuss some of the things mentioned. I asked him about the new single "Paranoico" and what it meant to them considering the name itself means paranoid. He mentioned that it's sort of a representation of one's self even though it might sound negative. Also it symbolizes certain relationships with certain people. "It's like looking in a mirror and realizing you are not O.K. It's like when you are broken and you don't have control over that aspect of yourself."
This single is great and the new video for can be found on Youtube. One can only imagine how great the whole album will sound like. With the advent of the new album, the band hopes to do to also do a tour for it. As I pointed out to Oscar, there are already some comments on their social media requesting it. He says he would wish this as well however the band is also working on like 4-5 other projects and there are many other factors involved as well.
As any band made up of so many people form different bands and backgrounds I had to ask what were the bands biggest influences. Oscar laughed and said there are infinite songs and bands that it would be hard to say. He says that each of the band member have such a different taste in music and each listen to it from a different "angle". "For example, I can focus on certain frequencies that drive me crazy and one of my friends can focus on something else and not be phased." He did mention that genres that heavily influence the band are rock and electronic music. He admits that he is really into hip-hop, but at the end of the day they all come together and bring their own perspectives to the "table."
At this point in the interview I asked Oscar how considering that Samal Ayuka is a band from Juarez, how is it that the band is influenced by the border in the sense of their music and personally. He said well, "My generation was the penultimate generation to experience "Juarez Libre" which was before all the violence. We pretty much had the liberty to do whatever we wanted and we were not afraid. You can be up late and go anywhere and not be scared or fear for one's life. It was that freedom that shaped us. Bands from the border are way different from that of the center of Mexico. We have that influence from the United States as well as Mexico." He feels like bands from the border are more aware of these bands and music movements happening in the U.S. whereas their central Mexico counterparts pay more attention to the music movement happening in Europe and Latin America.
Oscar says that something that really stands out to him about the border is the tranquility and the easy pace of life here unlike the big cities. He mentions they call the border region "la tierra del mañana", meaning something of the lines that we are like "we'll do it tomorrow" and life will be alright. He admits he loves the slow-pace and it helps him be creative music-wise and it even gives him time to read a book and do stuff he really enjoys.
I want to thank Oscar and the band for this opportunity. I encourage everyone to look up their music on i-tunes, Spotify, Youtube, and follow them on Instagram @samalayuka.
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.