By Dave Schwartz
Photos by Sally Schwartz
Long ago it
became a fad for radio stations to host concert events. Some of
these events are better than others, but there has always been
one winner-- the fan. Really, how can you beat a bunch of bands
for little money?
This event was KUPD's Summer Scorcher: 15
bands, 12 hours of music and surface-of-the-sun temperatures. It
was perfect! And before I go on, I want to make a comment, KUPD
did a great job keeping the bands on schedule and making sure
the fans had everything they needed. Good Job!
Aside from catching several great bands on
stage, my interest on the day was to interview Tantric. Like
many of the bands at this event, they had just released a new
record and the single was moving up the charts.
Tantric took the main stage promptly at
3:15 p.m. and wasted little time grabbing the crowd's attention.
I was impressed with how tight the band was on stage. The songs
were crisp, the sound was clean and singer Hugo Ferreira was on
top of his game. I was eager to get to the interview and find
out more about this band.
After Tantric's set we filled our time
watching OT3P on the second stage. A short while later, the cell
phone rang and we went to meet the Tantric's road manager,
Peter. As he took us back to the band's RV, he apologized and
explained that the RV was full of people and he suggested that
it may be possible to do the interview elsewhere. As it turned
out, everyone was comfortable right where they were.
We opened the RV door and went inside.
Hugo Ferreira, lead singer of Tantric, was sitting on the couch
across from the door. With him on the couch were three young
ladies. Scattered throughout the RV were band members and about
a dozen bodies, all enjoying the air-conditioning.
We chatted for a bit as I set up my tape
recorder and dug for my notes. I could tell that Ferreira was in
very good spirits, and rightfully so, as just an hour earlier
Tantric ripped their way through a 30 minute set in the blazing
106 degree Arizona sun and now it was time for Ferreira to relax
with friends and enjoy a couple cocktails.
With introductions but a distant memory, I
started with the obvious question, I asked about the new record,
Ferreira started with some background, "We
had such a huge span between this and our last record, about 18
months. I think this is our best record. It's that rock record
that I always wanted to do, super dark and heavy. Finally now,
after 10 years in this band, everything just sort of matched
perfectly; the radio, the artwork and the music all just fell
into place. I feel really good about it. I'm blessed to be here
and I'm having a real good time."
"It does look like you're having fun," I
"What can I say, I'm a hot girl sandwich!"
Having just performed in front of 8,000
screaming fans, Ferreira was comfortably relaxing on the couch,
still surrounded by several young ladies.
While researching this interview I read
about the unusual way Tantric collaborated to write the album.
Since the members of the band each live in different parts of
the US, the most logical approach to writing was by e-mail.
thing is when I first got signed we recorded our records on 2"
reels," Ferreira explained, "These days everyone has ProTools.
Bands don't sell as many records as they did 10 years ago, so we
try to cut our costs as much as possible. How we did that is,
basically everyone has their own studios. When we were demoing
the songs, Joe the guitar player would send me a riff, I would
dump it into ProTools and then write a melody. Everyone would be
sending in riffs or whatever they had, my house would sort
of be the hub. So basically I would piece all these songs
together with a drum machine and loops. We had 30 or more songs
before we went in to begin recording the record."
Ferreira continued, "We got together for
two to three weeks before we began recording and jammed on the
songs, saw which ones seem to fit or not. We still didn't lose
that thing a band has when they write together, we just wrote
the basic structure of the songs and then took the time to gel
it together and, as the process evolved, the songs evolved too.
It was a cool unique way to write and ultimately it saved us a
lot of money and gave us the ability to put out a record quicker
and not be a million dollars in debt."
I asked Ferreira if he shared the compiled
songs before the band united to flesh out the finished tracks.
"Every time someone would send me a riff,
I would write a melody and some lyrics. I would then send it to
everybody and they would have a chance to throw in ideas,"
"So you did bounce the ideas around," I
"Yeah, but honestly I just sort of sat
there in my house," Ferreira explained. "I sat there for
about four months straight and just wrote because I'm really
like kind of a dork and when I'm at home I don't even like to go
out. I just sat home and played PlayStation! And then when it
comes time to work on the music I'll go and put some 'guyliner'
on and get in front of the mirror and rock out!"
The group watching the interview were all
"That's how you know that the music comes
from a genuine place because most music doesn't come from the
captain of the football team or the cheerleaders. It comes from
the outcasts and dorky people like me," Ferreira continued.
"Yes, people in every profession share
common quirks," I acknowledged.
"Exactly! I think this band is able write
so easily because we don't need to impress each other," Ferreira
When Tantric finally all came together in
one room they were faced with a daunting challenge-- they had 30
songs to work through. I asked about the sorting process,
choosing which songs made it to the record and which didn't.
"Actually the songs were really, really
obvious. I mean it's hard for me to throw stuff out. They're all
like your kids, but I had to say, (in a German accent...)
'Alright, I have 12 kids but only six of you are good enough to
stay in the house!' You love them all but ultimately you try to
balance what you do in music. That's our job. That's what we do.
I mean this is our job. It's how we pay our fucking bills and
shit. You try to balance to make good art. Don't be a poser and
over-try or under-try," Ferreira confessed.
Although Ferreira finds himself surrounded
with all the trappings of being a rock star: big tour, songs on
the radio, screaming fans, all while sitting backstage in an RV
with friends and new acquaintances... Ferreira is quick to point
out that he's just a regular guy that happens to make music for
are so many things people don't know about bands." Ferreira
continued, "It's like a glorified high school click that you're
in, this whole rock star bullshit. You know, like after we play
a show we can't go out and hang with fans. I don't know, we just
try to make music that's good and sincere. We'll probably never
make Nickelback money. I mean it's a big price to be Nickelback,
know what I mean?"
With all of the preproduction that
occurred through e-mail, I anticipated that the actual recording
process of "Mind Control" must have gone quickly.
"We tracked this whole record in 21 days."
Ferreira concurred. "Like I said, all the guys in this band are
veterans. We don't need anyone to tell us where to plug
something in. We're all like, 'Just get the fuck away from me!'
I spent a lot of time upstairs on the couch watching 'Maury
Povich.' There were a whole bunch of shows that were like, 'I'm
not the father!' When it was my time to sing, I just came
downstairs. We have a really cool relationship like that."
"I think that's one of the coolest things
about this band." Ferreira admitted. "The most successful time
for this band was at the very beginning; we never got lost in
success. I mean, it would be great to make $100 million a year,
but there's a down side of that. I think the benefit of being
just under or above the radar is you have enough to pay your
mortgage and shit and you can only afford a used Mercedes with
20s, not 22s and only two of them are chromed. I think the
benefit of not being overwhelmingly rich with everything just
sitting in front of you is that you still get to keep your
character. You stay the same person. Everyone knows who I am
right after I finish a show, so I end up signing autographs, but
no one knows me at the mall. It's a blessing in disguise. You
can still keep it honest. And then the people who actually like
your music can get something from it. We don't write songs about
fucking a chick in the bathroom."
Ferreira had already hinted to the answer
of my next question during the interview, but still, I felt it
was worthy of asking. I queried if Tantric enjoyed being on the
road and how long they planned to tour on this record.
"We love to tour, but we're also family
oriented," Ferreira replied. "I don't have a wife or kids, but I
have dogs and cats which I very much miss. If it were up to me,
I would have all my dogs in the bus, but my band would be ready
to kill me! But we tour, we survive and we do what we want to
do. We play music. We're like Hallmark cards, we write about
what people feel, but don't know how to express themselves. So
then they can say, 'That song, that's exactly how I felt at that
moment.' That's what we do and it's important that we take that
responsibility seriously. Being in a rock band really isn't
about sex, drugs and rock and roll, that image sells records,
but you can also promote yourself by having something to say. If
I die tomorrow I could stand on the words of every single lyric
"You've got to play your music your way,"
I acknowledge. "You can't try to live up to someone else's
"Exactly!" Ferreira agreed. " And I would
never write something like, 'You'd Look Better with Something in
At this point one of the ladies that had
joined Ferreira on the couch chimed in, "But sometimes we do!"
The RV erupted with laughter.
Smiling Ferreira agreed, "I'm sure you do
and that's a hot thing but..."
He turned back to me and went on, "We're
kind of like the blue color rock band, almost famous, famous,
almost famous... Some towns we play in have like 2000 people at
the show and other towns have 500. We literally played a show
where the marquee billed us as 'Tantrum.' I mean, come on, we've
had platinum records! But it doesn't really matter to me, I've
been in this band or another band since I was like 16 or 17, so
to me, it really doesn't matter anymore. I'm just trying to
enjoy it and be cool."
Tantric's new single, "Mind Control," is
moving up the charts. They are garnering airplay from many radio
stations around the US and that's what brought them to Phoenix.
KUPD is one of the many stations that picked up the single and
the fans are reacting. That reaction was what got the band
included on the radio station's end of summer promotion, the
knew that Tantric had just finished making the video for their
new single. I asked Ferreira to tell me about the shoot.
"It was like super-cool man." Ferreira
announced proudly. "It's my favorite video ever. The very first
video we ever did, we spent $1.2 million. For this video we
spent $20k and it's our favorite video. When we first got
signed, we got signed by Madonna-- Madonna literally signed us.
Her label, Maverick Records, was interested in branding us as a
brand name band. They were like, 'Here's a band with some songs,
let's build a whole image around them.' We never really had a
lot of choice about what we'd do in the videos, I mean like that
first 'Break Down' video, the idea that I wrote was some
Columbine shit, but when it came out, it was more like Melrose
Place. So ultimately there was less money this time, but we had
more control. I feel that at some point the two will balance
each other out."
With that the interview abruptly ended
when Ferreira got up and walked away. He seemed distracted by
something else that was happening in the RV and just sort of
moved on. He did return after several minutes, but I had
exhausted most of my questions. Really, there was only one left
to ask, regarding the next single. Ferreira shared with me that
it would be "Coming Undone."
I want to thank Hugo Ferreira for talking
with us and I wish Tantric the best of luck with their remaining
Check out the band at: