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To hear the soundtrack running through Hugo Ferreira’s head, just listen to the 13 songs on the new Tantric album. With more than 50 minutes of visceral, diverse rock, 37 Channels musically mines the soul of the Tantric singer, letting listeners inside the band’s most personal and evocative album to date—and that’s saying something for a platinum-selling group with hit singles including ‘Breakdown” and “Down and Out.” Of heady new songs like “Loss for Words,” “Where Do We Go From Here?” and “Broken,” Ferreira explains with a laugh: “I can’t afford a therapist, so this is what I do. I regurgitate all my angst and pain and confusion and joy. I’m showing more, letting people into my brain and heart.”
Helping give life to 37 Channels are an impressive list of players and friends, including Shooter Jennings (on the quirky “Mosquita”); Leif Garrett, bluesy rhythm guitarist Kenny Olson (Kid Rock); Hinder singer Austin Winkler (co-vocals to “Fault” and “Bullet”); Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett, Uncle Kracker axeman Kevin McCreery; and drummer Greg Upchurch (3 Doors Down). But make no mistake; if Ferreira is the only original member, 37 Channels is still very much a Tantric record: “It’s always been my baby, I’m still the guy who co-founded the band back in Louisville,” he explains. “I’ve had different incarnations throughout the years, and the sounds have changed with the different players, but his is the most “Tantric” Tantric record so far. I even did my own harmony vocals. The whole album is very articulate to what I wanted it to sound like.” While the record’s guest list is impressive, the big names are tasteful additions, not flashy add-ons. Ferreira puts it more bluntly: “I didn’t let people jerk off all over this record! I’m very protective of it. I used to let things go, but I literally oversaw every aspect of 37 Channels.”
That included writing 116 songs, recording 19, and in order to create the uncompromised music he heard in his head, playing all the instruments himself on initial versions of the songs. When he was happy with a tune, he’d then enlist the players to execute it best. “I’m a good guitar player, I'm a great piano player, I’m an ok drummer and I’m a good bass player,” he relates. “But I’m really more of a songwriter and singer than anything.” Producing the record himself (in addition to doing one song with Fuel/Collective Soul producer Malcolm Springer) Ferreira tracked 37 Channels at Nashville’s Rivergate Studios. “It was great after spending two and a half years writing at home.” Of that lengthy songwriting process, the frontman explains, “Even if a song isn’t about something that happened to me, whether it’s me thinking about that poor guy who just walked by looked hungry or whatever, I’m always cognitively thinking. My head doesn’t have a shut off switch, and the record reflects that in all the different subject matter. ‘Mosquita’ has a comical undertone, but ‘You Got What You Wanted’ and ‘Loss for Words’ are very serious songs—and they’re interconnected.”
The album title, as might be clear, references the myriad of topics playing in the singer’s mind at any given time, and comes from a lyric in the song “Rise.” “I’m the poster child for ADD,” he says, “but. I choose not to medicate for that. I’m super hyper, and when people meet me, they’re like “there are a lot of tangents on this kid!’ Or, as he also analogizes: “There are a lot of branches in this tree, and I hop from one to another a lot. The only time I can focus is when I’m in the studio and I’m by myself, with a little bottle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes.”
Despite the sometimes-painful lyrical content, 37 Channels is often a fun record, especially on tracks like “Mosquita” and ‘My Turn,’ where Ferreira, who calls himself “the antithesis of a rock star!” has a blast randomly ranting and raving. Looking back at the last several years of work that led up to 37 Channels and a new record deal for Tantric, he doesn’t regret the time taken, nor place in the current music milieu. He believes this new record has taken—and needed--his lifetime to write: “There are bits and pieces of my entire life in this record, so it really did take my whole life, and that’s why it can only be written and recorded in this way.”
As 37 Channels makes clear, Tantric is a career band at the peak of its powers, as will be borne out by a tour later this year. While there’s diversity within and among the records, the signature Ferreira vocals and sensibilities shine through. As he concludes, “I consider Tantric a boat that I float in—it’s a vessel that carries the music. So I never feel restrictions. It doesn’t have any rules. Tantric music can be super-heavy, light--or both It’s really an open book with no ending in sight.”
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