For the average artist, such achievements usually mark the summation of an entire career- if they're lucky. However, for three twenty-year-olds from Louisville, Kentucky- it was a reality. It was just the beginning for guitarist Todd Whitener, bassist Jesse Vest and drummer Matt Taul, or so
they thought. A few weeks later, all of it- the band, the partying and the good times- was crushed beneath the weight of artistic differences and new directions. The three musicians, who played with Days of the New, returned
to Kentucky- broke, disillusioned and back at square one.
Stories that begin this way usually end in scandal, bitter tragedy and an episode of "Behind the Music." Instead, this trio's tale goes a different way. Defying expectations, they regrouped, recruited a new lead singer
and began to write. Things quickly fell into place, and after naming themselves TANTRIC, the quartet signed a recording contract with Maverick Recording Company in late 1999. "We could've fallen apart very easily and each
gone our own way," says guitarist Todd Whitener. "The fact that we were able to stay together says a lot about the band's spirit and determination."
Produced by Toby Wright (Korn, Alice in Chains), TANTRIC's self-titled debut is a reclamation of rock's raw vitality. By blending creamy acoustic middles with crunchy guitar exteriors, TANTRIC has created a record that ripples
with varying degrees of sonic blitz. Add in achingly beautiful melodies and a vocalist who sings with soul-on-the-sleeve sincerity, and you have an album with emotional range that broadens with each listen. "We poured everything we had into this record," says Whitener. "It was an incredibly therapeutic release of energy. Hopefully, people will relate to the album's honesty."
One person who was moved- literally- by Whitener's music was vocalist Hugo Ferreira. When a mutual friend played the singer a rough demo of TANTRIC's music, he jumped at the opportunity to try out. Recalls the frontman, "At
the time, I was living in Detroit and playing in a local band. But there was something about Todd's music that really touched me and I wanted to be a part of that." After a successful audition, Ferreira packed up his
things and drove from Detroit to Louisville to be with the trio. On the way, he wrote the introspective "I'll Stay Here," a song about leaving one life behind to start another. Says the singer, "For me, packing up and moving
was a total leap of blind faith. They didn't have a deal when I got here, but it all worked out."
Laughs drummer Matt Taul, "When he pulled up in a U-Haul filled with his stuff, we knew we had found the right guy. That's dedication."
Says Ferreira, "We lived together for six months and wrote almost one song per day. From an artistic standpoint, it was an incredible experience. That alone made moving there worthwhile."
Twelve of those songs made it onto the album including the gritty lead single "Breakdown," the haunting acoustic grace of "Inside your Head"," the dark and heavy churning rhythms of "Frequency" and "I Don't Care," a crisp and catchy hook-laden pop pearl. Other standout tracks include "Hate Me"
(which also features a banjo solo), "Astounded" and the sitar-driven "All To Myself," each soaked in bittersweet melodies again.
"I remember Todd playing some of these songs for me on his guitar two years ago," says bassist Jesse Vest. "It was right after things fell apart with 'Days' and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. At the time, I was frustrated
and contemplating getting out of the business and going back to school. But then I heard his songs and thought they were amazing. They came out even better than expected."
For Ferreira, who struggled as a musician for many years, and contemplated quitting on more than one occasion, the opportunity to record his first album was a long time coming. "I'll never forget the feeling of being in
the studio and thinking, 'Wow, this is really happening. I'm finally getting that chance to make the kind of music that I love to listen to. I've got the support of a great label behind me and I'm playing with an incredibly
talented group of musicians, each of whom has been through a struggle of his own.' It was an incredible feeling of vindication for all of us."
Adds Whitener, "I'm really proud of these songs and what we were able to accomplish with this record. Even if we only sell one copy of this album, I'll always have that. It's something that can never be taken away from me now."