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Seven Questions: Tantric


7 Questions With Tantric

Tantric's four members flip on a television and quickly find something good to watch: their video.

As they lounge in an MTV green room before an interview, the musicians — who favor long hair, denim and motorcycle boots — watch their high-school-themed "Breakdown" clip with scholarly intensity.

"We should've done it nude," drummer Matt Taul muses.

Despite Tantric's Buddhism-evoking name and their moody, Alice in Chains-like sound, the band is, in person, utterly without pretense. Their banter is timeworn rock-star stuff — fun with groupies and techniques for hiding illegal substances when passing through airports.

Guitarist Todd Whitener, bassist Jesse Vest and Taul, all natives of Louisville, Kentucky, used to play in Days of the New until a contentious parting of ways with that band's frontman, Travis Meeks. They found a new frontman, Hugo Ferreira, formed a new band, and began once again to climb the music-industry ladder, releasing Tantric's self-titled debut in February.

They chatted with Brian Hiatt about the origins of their name, their bygone day jobs and how they'd be nowhere without Frank Sinatra.

MTV: As nice Midwestern guys, how did you come up with an exotic name like Tantric?

Matt Taul: First of all, we didn't think of it.

Hugo Ferreira: We were like, "That's too fancy for us." We had this time period where we had to come up with something new because we [didn't] like our original name, Carbon-14. One of the runners, or she was a secretary [at the studio] ...

Jesse Vest: Ferreira's girlfriend.

Ferreira: Oh my God, I'm sorry. She came in and she was telling us about tantric sex. She was all into the whole Buddhism thing and she said it while she was naked, so we're like, "Tantric works." We did a little research on the name [and] we thought it was cool. But it wasn't like we were at the top of a mountain and God's voice came down [and said], "Tantric."

MTV: In the aftermath of the Days of the New breakup, you were demoing right away. But it must have been a real letdown to be dumped from the band and climb your way back up. What was your state of mind?

Taul: We had to get jobs.

Todd Whitener: It was definitely an eye-opener for me. You go from living out a dream life didn't even seem real. I went to high school [and] all [of] the sudden we were opening for Metallica. We found ourselves back at square one again.

Vest: I worked at Hooters.

Taul: I was there with him.

Vest: Actually, he didn't really show up for work very often and when he did show up he was drunk.

Ferreira: Me and Todd used to go there every day and get free wings.

Vest: I used to work at a machine shop.

Ferreira: I worked at a beach club.

Taul: We used to go there and get free booze. We could eat for free at my job and drink for free at his job.

MTV: How did you hook up with these guys?

Ferreira: We had known each other when Days first started. I played in a band in Detroit and we met at the beginning of [a] tour. We had done some shows together and we kept in touch. Every time I went to Louisville, I'd be like, "I'm opening up for Cinderella, come check out the show, dude."

Taul: Which really happened.

Vest: But we didn't go.

Ferreira: They were like, "We don't even like you, dude, why would we go?"

Whitener: Sorry about that, dude.

Ferreira: It's all right. When they decided they were going to stick together and they needed one other cat, I just [got] one of those phone calls in the middle of the afternoon. I went down and we hung out for a few weeks to see if we got along. Before we knew it, we were looking for a band name.

"Breakdown" (Live)
MTV: How easily did it come together? Was there a period of struggling to get a new sound?

Whitener: I don't think there was. When we got together we all wanted to make music. As soon as we had our first band practice those [riffs] turned into songs, which turned into more band practices and more songs.

Ferreira: We had written so much stuff in six months because we were just rehearsing all day. God knows we didn't have anything else to do, and the local music store in Louisville helped us out. They were like, "Come over here and practice."

MTV: When did you play your first show as Tantric and what was that like?

Ferreira: It was a hometown show in Louisville [three months after we got together]. Believe it or not [we] sold the place out because we have friends [at] the local rock station. Here we are, no label, no record out, nothing and we borrowed equipment to do the show. We sold it out and everybody loved it. I think it was the first time that we played [and] we [felt] like, "All right, we're really a band again."

MTV: You're the latest in a long line of singers who sing in a really low vocal tone. Who are your vocal heroes — presumably not the guy from Hootie and the Blowfish?

Ferreira: No. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and the Gipsy Kings. When my voice started developing and being really deep I never thought I was going to be a singer. When I was growing up and I'd listen to Mötley Crüe and stuff like that, all these guys had this like [sings in high voice] "ahhh." I'm like, "Ah, man, this isn't going to work for me." So I just started listening to everyone with a low voice. I think my style developed from [not listening to] rock singers.

MTV: Do you remember how the song "Breakdown" came together?

Whitener: When I first started writing that I was in Amsterdam just sitting in [a] hotel.

Ferreira:: He was going to Anne Frank's house.

Whitener: That song's pretty much about being pooped on and realizing that life is going to move on and you just have to keep your head high. Things will work out in the end, as long as you stay positive.


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