ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 5, 2001
In November of 1998, an acoustic guitar–based rock band out of Kentucky called Days of the New had the world by the short ’n’ curlies. Its self-titled debut album had gone platinum, it had garnered heavy airplay on MTV, and it had even landed a tour slot opening for hard-rock kings Metallica.
But then the leader of the group, singer-songwriter Travis Meeks, split off from the musicians who played with him: guitarist Todd Whitener, bassist Jesse Vest, and drummer Matt Taul. All three returned to Louisville, broke and disillusioned, but determined to get back on track. Enter husky-voiced Detroit vocalist Hugo Ferreira, who’d heard a rough tape of some songs Whitener had demoed. He hooked up with the Days of the New refugees, and the new band Tantric was born.
“I packed up my stuff and moved down there,” says Ferreira, calling from L.A.’s Record Plant, where the quartet is adding some strings to “Mourning”, the next single off its self-titled debut CD. “If it wasn’t for my true love of music, I would never have done that in a million years. Me and Todd moved into an apartment together, and we were pretty broke. We were pretty much living like, ‘Hey, don’t throw away that can, that’s five cents!’ But it definitely made us work really hard.”
Just one year after the collapse of Days of the New, Tantric had a contract with Maverick Records, the Madonna co-owned label out of New York. The group’s bio describes the sudden breakup of DOTN as due to “artistic differences”. We’ve all heard that one before. “That phrase is an easy way to explain something that we really don’t want to make a big deal about,” explains Ferreira, “because it’s water under the bridge, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, what, are we gonna go and talk bad about the guy?”
Tantric doesn’t need to throw stones in order to get attention these days, as its first single, “Breakdown”, hit No. 1 on the U.S. rock charts. But what really sets it apart, musically, from Days of the New? “Todd’s style of guitar-playing is probably the thing that reminds you the most of Days of the New, and 75 percent of this band was in that band. But all the stuff in Days was written pretty much by Travis, and all the stuff in Tantric is written by us as a band,” Ferreira says.
Local rock fans can check out Tantric for themselves when it plays on a bill with 3 Doors Down and Lifehouse at the Plaza of Nations on Tuesday (July 10). “We’re really good friends with the guys from 3 Doors Down,” notes Ferreira. “They’re not the typical asshole rock stars that we often meet on the road. Lifehouse I’ve never met, and hopefully they’ll be equally cool.
“If not,” he adds with a chuckle, “I’ll kick their ass.”