CNY Connection and Other Oddities Of ‘Portugal. The Man’
The song "Feel It Still," has been a big crossover hit on rock, pop and adult contemporary stations like Lite 98.7. It's got a direct lineage to both Motown and rap, and a trippy-alternative feel.
The song's history is interesting, and the band behind it, Portugal. The Man, has a lot of little mysteries, curiosities, and fun facts associated with it, and even a Central New York connection for one member of the group.
As for that punctuation in the band's name, another CNY band (moe.) already pioneered that territory. Portugal. The Man put a period in their name to make it feel larger than life.
According to lead singer-guitarist John Gourley, the whole Portugal idea was an attempt to have a bizarre alter ego to sort of hide behind while performing--an escape from reality, shyness, and anxiety.
The withdrawn Gourley, a high school dropout, and his more outgoing and always popular high school friend Zach Carothers form the core of the band.
Here's the CNY connection: Gourley's parents grew up in Morrisville before moving to Wasilla, Alaska and starting a family, and the Gourleys still have a lot of friends and family here in Central New York. Here's a stripped down version of the hit song:
Gourley's fantastic singing voice is hypnotic and, well, oddly feminine. If you've only HEARD "Feel It Still" on the radio, the video of the song (above or here) is illuminating on a number of levels.
As the camera pans around, you'll notice one guitarist sitting in a wheelchair. That's Eric Howk, who's been a paraplegic since an accident in 2007.
As for the song's roots, the band worked on early versions with Mike D of the Beastie Boys, while the original notion for the song came from Gourley's affection for the Marvelettes' 1960s hit "Please Mr. Postman." Check out the similarities:
One other note: the members of the band seem like good guys, not the inaccessible, officious music big shots they hated listening to on radio station interviews when they were growing up.