Hugo Ferreira of Tantric
Four years ago, Hugo Ferreira of Tantric was feeling pretty down and out. First their record label folded, then he lost his manager, and the final blow came when the rest of his band walked out on him. Having lost everything he had, this might be enough for most people to call it quits, but for Ferreira it just added fuel to the fire that churned inside. With a passion burning strong and the will to persevere he locked himself in his studio and wrote a new album.
Fast forward to the present. Having resurrected an all-star line-up to support him with Kevin Miller on drums, Joe Pessia on guitar, Erik Leonhardt on bass and Marcus Ratzenboeck on violin, Tantric is set to release their new album on April 22nd. Aptly titled The End Begins, this album will signify both an end and a beginning for both Tantric and Ferreira.
With the first single Down And Out already making it’s mark on rock radio from coast to coast, the band is getting an early start on promoting their new digs and has already hit the road in support of the new album. On a busy afternoon full of interviews and cleaning the tour bus Ferreira took some time to fill us in on the new album, the new band, and how he managed to go from rock bottom to rock renegade.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | April 2008
So let’s start with filling everyone in who’s not familiar with what’s been going on, it’s been around four years since the last Tantric album and a lot has happened, can you give us a brief rundown of what has been happening in the Tantric world?
The last record that we released was in 2004 with the original members. What happened was that we recorded another record after that but our label went out of business. We found ourselves without a label, subsequently without a manager, subsequently without anything. That was just really discouraging to the whole band and Matt and Todd decided that they didn’t want to do it anymore. What I did was, I went down to my studio and I wiped the tears off and started writing a new record. Slowly put together a whole new band behind me again with the material that I had written. I found myself another deal and we recorded a record with Toby Wright who produced the first two records, and here we are! We’re out on the road, the single is kicking ass and I’m grateful to God every day for it.
When the remaining members of Tantric left, did you ever have any thoughts of giving it all up for good?
I can’t say that I was thinking that way. I dedicated my whole life to this. I’ve been down before and I always find a way to put myself back on my feet. I think with perseverance you can overcome the greatest obstacles. I definitely wasn’t going to do down without a fight. I worked really hard to get it done and it’s paying off.
You’ve got a group of pretty heavy hitters in the band now from Kevin Miller on Drums who was in Fuel to Joe Pessia on guitar who a lot of us are very familiar with from Dramagods and other assorted Nuno projects, how did everybody come together?
By the grace of God! I do have probably one of the best bands right now supporting me. They are all just incredibly seasoned and just badasses. I’ve known Kevin from touring with him when he was in Fuel. When I ran into him again I asked him if he’d be interested in doing this project and it was actually a different project. When the whole thing happened with Tantric I just asked him to join and he agreed and he brought his bass player that he’d already been playing with. Joey I actually met through Nuno because he’s a mutual friend of ours, so I stole him from Nuno. Basically I stole all of my musicians from other bands, I’m a thief. Nobody lets me into their green room anymore they’re like “whoa what are you trying to steal our drummer!?”
So your poster is hanging outside everyone’s green room now right?
I think it’s an amazing line up, I’m a big fan of Joe and Kevin, but what I’m wondering is when you started putting the band back together, did you ever consider changing the name or did you feel that the name was tied to your own personal identity?
It was definitely tied to my personal identity, plus, I just wasn’t about to start over from scratch. I’ve got the thing tattooed on my arm. The way I looked at it was that I was part of what put this band where it is right now so I was definitely entitled to use the name. I didn’t quit on the band, everyone else did. I’m the one who still believes in it.
I love the fact that you’ve added a violin player to rock the electric violin. Was that always part of your vision when resurrecting Tantric or how did that element become part of what you were doing?
I had been jamming with Marcus, our violin player, for a minute. He was a classically trained violin player. I always wanted to do something like that. When this opportunity came up to resurrect the band I thought it would be a good addition and a good twist to add on electric violin and to use it in a way that hasn’t necessarily been used before. Like I thought it would go over, it is going over. Everyone is just totally enamored by it. I don’t know how I did it but whatever decisions I made were good ones so I’m pretty happy about that.
How does he feel about being in a rock band, that has to be a bit of a diversion for him?
He was always a rock star, this guy is the craziest one in the band by far, it was more like, how does it feel to be in a classical environment for him. He parties like a rock star, he’s crazy.
Let’s talk about the writing process for the album because you wrote the majority of the album on your own didn’t you?
I did write most of the songs on my own, but I just demoed them out in my studio and then the other guys in the band came in and threw their twists in. They made their parts individually, I didn’t write the drum parts, etc. I would just write the basic idea, and there’s a few songs like Regret and Something Better and Monopoly that were more of a collective band thing that we wrote together but initially Down and Out and all those songs I started. In a sense everyone did collaborate because the initial version of the songs and the final outcome of the songs are a lot different because of everyone’s flavors that they’ve added. I definitely could not have done it by myself.
You’ve noted that your songwriting has taken on a more literal approach, do you credit that just to your experience as a writer or was that a deliberate change?
I think that I had more literal stories to tell. On the previous records I was more writing about a color of emotion. I was writing it vague enough so that people could relate. On this particular record, just with the last four years of experiences that I had, I really had something to say. I definitely wanted the people that I was directing it towards to know that it was for them and about them. I guess that’s probably the reason that I made it so literal this time.
Have you heard any feedback from those individuals that it was directed towards yet?
No. But I know that it’s going in their ears and that’s all I need to know.
The album drops on the 22nd which is a little over a week away, with the success of your past albums, do you feel any pressure with this release or is it just a relief to be getting the music out there?
I’m just so excited. I’ll tell you one thing, I have already lost everything I had once before so from the point that I was at I can only go up again. I just leave everything with my faith and know that God is looking over me and I have a lot of faith in the record. With those two things I’m going to beat all of the odds. I’m going to do it or die trying.
I haven’t heard the entire album yet but I’ve read reviews that have been calling it a lot heavier than stuff you’ve done in the past. Do you agree with this? Where is that edge coming from?
I really don’t think it’s anything heavier than I’ve done in the past. There are some heavy songs on there and the single is definitely heavier but when you write something that’s a little heavier it’s to emphasize a point. Down and Out is definitely heavier but it’s contrasted with a lot of pretty stuff in there too. I don’t know that it’s heavier than the other records, I just know that it’s better than the other records.
Since most of us have to wait until the 22nd to hear the whole album, can you walk us through a few of your favorite songs on the album?
Well lyrically they are all near and dear to me. Probably one of my favorite songs is Regret, just because I think the groove is really cool. I love singing that song, I just love that whole song. To pick one favorite song would be impossible, it’s like saying which one of your children do you like the most. I’m so close to every one and there’s really no song when I listen to this record that I skip through, I love every single one of them.
And you named the album after one of the songs as well – “The End Begins.” What prompted that decision?
That song was really talking about the end of one incarnation and the beginning of another. People say that to every end there is a beginning and that’s basically what that whole song is about so I thought it was appropriate to name the record that also.
How did you get hooked up with Silent Majority Group? And do you feel that these smaller more indie/boutique type labels are the way to go in todays music industry because they can give more attention to each artist?
I think our particular label is incredible, I don’t know how other labels work. At this point I’m really happy with our decision to go with Silent Majority and I’m really happy that they wanted us. So far they’ve been doing everything right and it’s been awesome.
I know you’re out on tour right now. It hasn’t been too long but how has the response been to the new material?
Incredible. This is our fourth show on this tour and it seems like everybody already knows the lyrics. Every time we play Down and Out people are freaking out, it’s just going fantastic. Right now we’re in the process of rebuilding our fanbase because a lot of people probably thought that we were gone. A lot of people are coming to the shows and they are loving it. I couldn’t ask for anything else.
And I kind of noticed that there isn’t a New England date there yet and I know that your Hudson faithful are going to be bummed if they don’t get a show, so whats the story?
We’re definitely going to get over there. The problem is that radio is not playing the single there yet.
So we need to get the single on the radio?
Yes! WAAF or WBCN, or whatever stations you listen to. I don’t know why they aren’t showing us love but our song is already in the 20s on the charts and they still aren’t playing it. Maybe you can tell your readers to call and request it. It’s hard to go and play in a market where your song isn’t being played on the radio. I definitely want to play there though, my whole family is in Massachusetts.
Okay we’ll have to work on that.
Yeah, you can sic the Massachusetts Music Mafia on them.
I think that your story is pretty inspirational, what advice would you give to musicians who may be in the same place you were when the bottom fell out on Tantric who may be wanting to give up? What advice can you offer up to them to help them persevere?
I would just use me as an example. Ultimately when you’re struggling emotionally or in life that seems to be when you get really in touch with your emotions and you write a lot of your best stuff like that. The music is the most important thing, so turn all that negative energy or whatever you’re feeling into music and just don’t give up. Get up off of the ground, shake it off, and keep your eye on the prize and look forward. There’s nothing to lose and you don’t want to waste your life wishing you had gone for it.
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