The band formerly known as three-quarters of Days of the New have reformed as Tantric with a major label record deal, a new album due early next year, and a U.S. club tour set for January.
Guitarist Todd Whitener, drummer Matt Taul and bassist Jess Vest were bona fide rock stars barely out of their teens when they formed Days of the New with singer/songwriter Travis Meeks in Jefferson, Indiana, and striking platinum with their self-titled debut album in 1997.
It went downhill from there.
The group chalked up a history of band brawls, missed shows and cancelled tours with the mercurial Meeks at the forefront. An appearance in Florida was shelved due to Meeks’ injuries after a fight on the tour bus (see “Days Of The New’s Travis Meeks Tells Fans He’s Dropping Bandmates” ), and a tour with Finger 11 was suddenly cut short when Meeks abruptly decided to go home (see “Days Of The New Cancel Tour” ). A major showcase concert in New York met the same fate.
The situation culminated with Meeks firing his former friends in November 1998, but the split turned out to be a blessing for Whitener, Taul and Vest.
“The day he fired us,” Vest said, “we were cutting our first demos for this same [Tantric] material.” The songs had no vocals, but that was soon to change, Vest said.
Enter Hugo Ferreira.
The Detroit native was fresh out of the band Merge, who were well acquainted with Days of the New. He passed an audition, and by March, he had moved to Louisville to work on demos with his new bandmates, at first under the moniker Carbon 14. They eventually decided that numbered bands were played out and changed the name to Tantric, in reference to Buddhist sexual practices.
It was a long way from their former life. Instead of touring with Metallica and accepting record awards, “the bass player was working at Hooters cooking wings, the guitarist was picking up what he could, and you don’t want to know what the drummer was doing,” Ferreira said with a laugh.
“We were beyond broke,” he continued. “All I had was a TV and a VCR, and I sold them to pay for the U-Haul to move to Louisville. I was tending bar at some cheesy beach club and winning karaoke contests singing Frank Sinatra songs competing against toothless drunks with names like Billy Bob Joe.
“I lost weight, I had the Ethiopian thing happening, with the skinny arms and the stomach thing happening.”
But it was worse for his bandmates, Ferreira said. “These guys really had to swallow a lot of pride.”
Eight months later, Tantric’s demos caught the ear of Maverick Records. A deal was struck that gave the group healthy advances and budgets to record an album in Nashville with producer Toby Wright (Alice in Chains, Primus). The record was completed in October.
Maverick has scheduled the self-titled album for release February 13 and has posted a preview single, “Breakdown,” on the Maverick/Tantric Web site (www.maverick.com/tantric).
According to Vest, the group has plenty of strong material left over for future use.
Meeks, meanwhile, continues to work under the Days of the New name with a revolving door of musicians. Days of the New released another self-titled album in August 1999, and a new album is in production.
Vest preferred not to comment on his former bandmate, but he did say that he ran into Meeks at a local nightclub once and the meeting was cordial, albeit brief.
Tantric tour dates:
- 1/05 – Memphis, TN @ Newby’s
- 1/06 – Springfield, MO @ Juke Joint
- 1/07 – Omaha, NE @ Ranch Bowl
- 1/09 – Kansas City, MO @ The Hurricane
- 1/10 – St. Louis, MO @ The Galaxy
- 1/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
- 1/13 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ 3rd Street Live
- 1/14 – Indianapolis, IN @ Birdy’s
- 1/16 – Chicago, IL @ Double Door
- 1/18 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection (New Music Night)
- 1/17 – East Lansing, MI @ Rick’s
- 1/19 – Detroit, MI @ Emerald Theatre
- 1/20 – Cleveland, OH @ Blind Lemon
- 1/22 – Cincinnati, OH @ Top Cats
- 1/24 – Atlanta, GA @ Smith’s Ole Bar
- 1/25 – Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
- 1/26 – Nashville, TN @ The End
- 1/27 – Louisville, KY @ Phoenix Hill Tavern