Although Tantric has been haunting the senses of rock enthusiasts since the turn of the century, the one constant in the band has been their ubiquitous front man Hugo Ferreira. Members may come and go, but the passion and conviction surrounding Tantric has remained solid throughout the years. 37 Channels is the name of the latest magnum opus, an ambitious collection of deeply introspective songs. In this interview, we discuss with the Tantric mastermind about the compelling new album, working with former teen idol Leif Garrett on one of the tracks, the revolving door membership Tantric has experienced over time, and other grand and glorious topics. Read on as Highwire Daze now goes about channeling in Hugo Ferreira of Tantric….
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Tantric, and how long the band has been together.
I am Hugo Ferreira, lead singer and co-founder of Tantric. The band was formed in 1999 although the roster has changed.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title 37 Channels?
It refers to the constant swirl of thoughts and ideas that exists in my head, all fighting for my attention.. It’s as if I’m in a room with 37 TV channels on at the same time.
How does 37 Channels compare to the previous Tantric albums?
It’s safe to say it’s the most personal album in many respects. Firstly, I wrote most of the songs, based on some turbulent years since the last release and collaborated with some of my musician friends on the rest. I played several instruments on the album and produced it. It also features an unprecedented number of guest vocalists and musicians.
Select two songs from 37 Channels and what inspired the lyrics.
MOSQUITA’ is the first single and it deals with people who only dare to talk smack about you behind your back or on social media where it’s easy to hide behind an avatar, when they don’t even know you; They just know of you. The web brings out a lot of of haters. It’s about small petty people that just suck you dry and smile to your face and then stab you as soon as you turn around. It’s about calling out these people, although I put a humorous spin on it though, heh…
BLUE ROOM refers to the recording and production studio I have in my home, which is painted blue. Writing music is my therapy, so that was where I retreated to to process internal conflicts and deal with my personal issues over the rough last few years.
What was it like working with former teen idol Leif Garrett on the track My Turn and how did he become involved with the song?
I’ve known Leif for a few years because my manager also reps Leif, and from day one of meeting we connected. He’s an icon firstly, but also a true musician and professional. I like working with talented people, and as I started writing songs for the album I thought it would be great to have his presence on the album. His vocals are stronger than ever, and there is a Yoda-like sageness to him that grounds those around him. He’s paid his dues and learned from them, and is all the better for it.
With Tantric once being on Maverick Records, did you ever get to meet Madonna? If so, what was the experience like meeting her and being on that label?
I dealt mostly with her partner Guy Osiri, but I did meet her once, although very briefly. She had a tremendous presence but was very gracious and made you feel like you really were part of a family, which Maverick was in those days. We were very fortunate to sign with Maverick out of the box because they had Madonna’s clout behind them and were a well oiled machine that propelled us into the limelight. Once she left however, things changed.
Did Fleetwood Mac ever hear or comment on your cover of The Chain?
I don’t quite remember the details, but although I never spoke to anyone from Fleetwood Mac, I heard it second hand from someone very close to the band that Mick Fleetwood really dug our version.
Do you still keep in touch with Jesse Vest or any of the other past Tantric members?
We don’t speak every week because we all have very busy lives, but yes. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their talents and consider myself lucky to have been part of Tantric with them. Todd has a band called Whitener which really showcases his talent, and Jesse Vest is playing in the Louisville Crashers, which kicks all kinds of ass.
If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Tough question because there are so many fellow musicians I respect and admire, but if I had to pick, I would say A Perfect Circle. Simply a genius band in every way…Melodically, compositionally…Tantric shares similar approaches to rock; always experimenting with textures, admitting new influences, very layered, complex, with lots of changes, straying from the default formula, but always melodic, no matter how hard and driving the music gets. You can sense their music comes from their very souls. It’s real and pure…
With so many members coming and going throughout the years, what do you think has kept Tantric going so strong after all of this time?
Hah! That’s easy; ME! Seriously, from day one Tantric has been one of the most important things in my life; my outlet for expression and for translating the thing I’m best at into a career, so I’ve treated it like my child. I revived it after Todd, Jesse and Matt left, but regardless of my efforts, ultimately it came down to the fans, which always amaze me with their loyalty and tenaciousness. The players may have changed but the Tantric sound,message and attitude have always been constant. Without them, Tantric wouldn’t have survived. We make music for them and they keep us relevant. It’s symbiotic…
What’s up next for Tantric?
Touring, touring, touring…we really want to go to Europe and Asia and play for the shocking number of fans we have there that have been supporting us through import CDs and following us on the web. We also have a ton of music I’m really proud of that didn’t make it on 37 Channels so there’s plenty left for another album.
Any final words of wisdom?
We all have wisdom to share, and my words are no more valuable than anyone else’s. Learn from your mistakes, maintain a healthy dose of humility and share your wisdom…
37 Channels is now available from Pavement Entertainment!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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