October 1, 2013 Interview – Hugo Ferreira of Tantric – A Man and His Vision
Determination is defined by the amount of challenges you can overcome and continue to follow your dreams. In 1999 a journey began for Tantric and continues in 2013. The band reached platinum success with their debut album Tantric (2001), with singles like “Breakdown”, “Astrounded”, and “Mourning”, Tantric were on their way to rock n roll stardom. In 2004, Tantric followed up with After We Go (2004), a solid record which also achieved success. Just when the band seemed to be on ready to continue as a unit slowly but surely members began to vanish from the line-up. Unwilling to give up his dream singer-songwriter Hugo Ferreira marched on releasing two solid Tantric albums in The End Begins (2008) and Mind Control (2009). Another bump in the world of Tantric took place as Ferreria’s band began to go different ways yet again. Refusing to accept the end of Tantric Ferreria dusted himself off and in 2013 bring fans 37 Channels. Recently we sat down with Hugo Ferreira for a very personal look at the history of Tantric, his bleeding passion for music, and undying will.
Crypticrock.com – Todd, Jesse, Matt formerly of Days of The New teamed up with you in 1999 to form what we now know as Tantric. You guys had great success with your major label debut in 2001 and then After We Go in 2004. Slowly the original line-up of what made up Tantric disappeared. You overcame all of that and kept the band going. How difficult was it for you to weather those changes and keep Tantric going?
Hugo Ferreira – I swear between the first lineup and the second lineup it took a few years, but I was always the main writer and it was out of sheer will. Tantric has always been my baby. After the first line-up I had written a bunch of songs, I had put a different line-up together, and we had done two records with that line-up. There was actually a third record done with the original line-up, minus Jesse. After that I parted ways with that label, it wasn’t working out so well. Basically on this new record I just wrote the songs and brought people in and we jammed and mashed them up together. For this one I wrote 120 songs over a three year period. I recorded them all in my house, at least the demo versions of them where I played all the instruments. I dwindled them down to 19 where I recorded at my buddy Chris Henderson’s (3 Doors Down) studio in Nashville. Out of the 19, 13 are on the record and 6 we’ll do something with.
You know it’s always difficult being in a band with different members spread across the country. At this point when I hired musicians to come in and play on this record, which my new line-up is made of a whole different group, they are all musicians I’ve known. Kenny Olson from Kid Rock, I’ve known him forever. These are all people I’ve played with my whole life. I was so anal about how I wanted it to sound that I just basically handpicked all the players to play on the record. Most of them will be coming out with me on the road. It’s always a challenge, it’s a challenge to be in this industry. For me writing the music is the easy part, it’s the rest of it that’s a pain in the ass. It’s kind of a journey and I have fun doing it.
Crypticrock.com – Totally, it sounds like a journey. You have released 2 studio albums since that time not including the newest record. The band’s sound has definitely evolved over the years. One of the key elements which has broadened the sound of the band is the addition of Marcus on electric violin during the 2008 album The End Begins. What inspired you to experiment with the band’s sound?
Hugo Ferreira – Marcus and I have been friends for a long time. We started messing around with ideas of integrating an electric violin. It was a really cool thing and it worked out. We were screwing around with the violin, then decided to try and treat it as an electric instrument. We started running it through pedals. It’s obvious it was very known with the song “Down and Out”. The violin almost served as another lead guitar and rhythm. I think with this record I wanted to return to the roots of where it started and give it another evolution sideways. I have never been a guy who likes to regurgitate the same record over and over. Basically this record as I said I wrote 120 songs for it. I was really fortunately to be able to call in a lot of my friends I’ve been playing with for years to come in and guest vocal on it. Shooter Jennings (Early Man) is on the first single with me doing all the harmonies. I had Austin Winkler from Hinder sing on a couple tracks with me. Leif Garrett of all people actually sang on one song I wrote so long ago. I met him and never really knew anything about Leif the child star. I’ve only known him as the adult Leif. He’s got a really cool voice, the guy is super talented. He did sell a whole lot of records. I’m not a really orthodox kind of guy, thus the record being called 37 Channels. I kind of do whatever I’m inspired to do at that time. Somehow it kind of comes together. I can’t explain how I do it honestly (laughs). I think it’s sheer will and me being too stupid to know I can’t do it.
Crypticrock.com – It is a very dynamic record with a lot of great musicians. This is the first record in 4 years since Mind Control (2009). The first single of the record is entitled “Mosquita”. Is this track a good representation of the record as a cohesive piece? What can fans expect from 37 Channels?
Hugo Ferreira – I think that fans that were really big fans of the first record, they can expect a returning back to an acoustic base. It also has elements of everything and a dash of evolution that I’ve personally evolved in musically within the past 4 years. I never go into writing a song by pre-imagining the song. I kind of just sit down in my studio, pick up a guitar and a song is born. They are not necessarily all great songs, sometimes I’ll finish a song and the next day I will come down and listen to it and say this is the worst song I’ve ever written. Sometimes something just flows easily and I end up writing a really great tune. “Mosquita” is probably the only one that has the really southern rock type of vibe to it. There is a variety, if you like really heavy stuff, there will be really heavy stuff on the album. You like some more laid back stuff, there will be laid back stuff on the album. You like stuff that has alternate timings and tuning, there will be that. It still maintains the Tantric kind of core. I think at this point Tantric is this vessel that carries music that is centered around my vocal and writing style. One minute I’ll be writing a song and then I will be like what the hell did I just write? Did I just write a samba (laughs). It’s kind of trying to reel in all those thoughts.
Crypticrock.com – (laughs) That is good though. It will prove to be a really diverse record and further show your progression as an artist and Tantric fans will appreciate that.
Hugo Ferreira – I’m an artist, I just write and I enjoy writing. Sometimes I just finish it and come up with a home run. That is why I really took my time writing this and writing so much material for this. I wanted to make sure I was putting my best out there. I think everybody who is buying the record will know it’s a Tantric record. I think people will be pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely my favorite piece of art I’ve created in its entirety. Just the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it alone. There are always going to be people that don’t like it, all I have to do is be proud of it and be happy with it at the end of the day. Just roll with the punches, think positive, be a good person, and do what I have to do.
Crypticrock.com – That is all that matters. You released The End Begins (2008) and Mind Control (2009) almost within a year of one another. Both records are very solid and have a lot of great tracks. It’s not often bands put out 2 records in consecutive years. What made you decide to put out these two records so close to one another?
Hugo Ferreira – Honestly it wasn’t really my choice to do that. I would have taken a little more time, I like to take my time. I think the label we were on just wanted us to release another record. I love Mind Control, I think it’s a really unique record out of the 5 Tantric records out there. It’s really unique, it’s super heavy, and it has a whole different vibe than the other records.
Crypticrock.com –Mind Control is definitely one of the heavier records. Being that you like to keep things fresh, did that make you approach 37 Channels differently?
Hugo Ferreira – On 37 Channels, considering I was doing it mostly myself because the line-up I had members moved to Florida and some lived in Boston. It was too difficult to keep that going and too costly. I just decided to go ahead and approach it in a different way. I decided to just really bare my soul, write the best stuff I could write, and then fill in the players as we went along. I tried to almost use the players as instruments themselves. Obviously Kenny Olson’s style of guitar player is completely different than Joe Pessia and they are equally as good players, just like they are different from Todd Whitener. The musicians you use add a certain character to any song you already wrote.
Crypticrock.com – That is very true. I’d like to know what some of your musical influences are?
Hugo Ferreira – There so many because I’m Portuguese and I grew up listening to Big Band, Latin, and European music. I was also listening to Hip Hop in Detroit. I grew up in Boston and Detroit so I had a lot of Hip Hop influence. Obviously I’m big fan of Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, grunge, and post grunge. Really a little of anything. I am, more than anything, a fan of songs than a fan of bands. I don’t love Blue Oyster Cult, but I love “Don’t Fear The Reaper”. That song mixed with another song I like from some other band I might not even know might inspire me. That all gets mixed up in your subconscious, whether you know it or not they are influencing stuff you’re doing as your writing it. Just like everything evolves, this is part of evolution of how I listen to music. My tastes change about things that I like, and I try to integrate new instruments, textures, and sounds. At the end of the day the song should be just you and an acoustic guitar. You should be able to just play it like that and it should stand alone. That is really how I write every song, just me and an acoustic.
Crypticrock.com – That is a great mix of music. That is also the best way to write, breaking it down to basics. If it sounds good with just you and an acoustic guitar it will sound good any other way.
Hugo Ferreira – Exactly, that is why I really took my time with 37 Channels. I didn’t want to just put a piece of crap together. I’m really excited for the album. I hope that everybody buys it and doesn’t illegally download it so I can make another record (laughs).
Crypticrock.com – (laughs) It’s funny you should say that. I personally am a strong component of physical format music opposed to digital. What is your opinion on that?
Hugo Ferreira – My philosophy on it is people don’t really live to rip off music online. I think that even if you just buy a record online. To me there is just nothing like owning the artwork that coincides with the music, it’s kind of a symbolical thing. The cover artwork for 37 Channels is a very personal cover and interior. There are pictures of me when I was 3 years old playing a saxophone or something like that. It shows how long I’ve been doing this. It’s also dedicated to my poor family who’s been so supportive of me, and how much they were part of me being here. It’s kind of like walking through a hallway of my house and seeing all these pictures that to me are very personal. I think after people listen to music and look at the pictures, they will understand where everything comes from. Plus my brother, Carlos, which owns a design firm in Los Angeles named Sketchtank designed the cover. He designed the cover for Mind Control as well. He knew exactly what I wanted it to feel like, it has a little bit of nostalgia in there. All I can do is be sincere about it and then it’s up to the fans to purchase it and like it.
Crypticrock.com – I agree with you and more of a reason to purchase a physical copy of the record. There sounds like there is so many personal things in there.
Hugo Ferreira – Yea, I mean you know those pictures that when you bring a girl home to meet your mom that you never want your mom to show? Those are in there (laughs). There are pictures of me when I am 5-6 years old. There’s a lot of self deprecating and embarrassing things, but that is ok, I am ok with that.