Rules Of Engagement: Tantric’s Hugo Ferreira + MDMP Team Up For “Wicked Games”

No man, as the saying goes, is an island. So when you find yourself living on one, you have to come up with some creative ways to stay connected. For Nebraska-bred Hawaii transplant Jeremey Meyer, who records under the banner of MDMP, that means sending out tracks-in-progress like digital messages in a bottle and seeing what the musicians you respect toss back. The approach has paid off in spades on his new single, “Wicked Games,” a darkly compelling little missive with lead vocals by Hugo Ferreira of post-grunge titans Tantric.

“It’s all about collaboration for me,” says Meyer, an accomplished singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who’s had to devise new ways to work since moving to Nānākuli on the west coast of O’ahu. “I’ll come up with a rough draft of a song, and then I’ll send it out to a few people — especially if I think it’s something they might be interested in. If they are, and they want to hop on, then I’ll roll with it and see where it goes. I’m an organizer — an orchestrator of the process. I don’t want it to be all me.”

That’s obvious from “Wicked Games,” which weds the alt-rock brooding of Meyer’s instrumental tracks to the instantly recognizable deep-throated growl that took Ferreira’s group to Number One on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in 2001 with “Breakdown.” For Meyer, their long-distance partnership was not just a shrewd artistic choice but a chance to acknowledge a personal debt.

“The reason I really wanted to collaborate with Tantric was because when I was deployed to Iraq (military) in the early 2000’s I listened to their self-titled album a lot, and it helped me through a rough patch of my life,” he recalls. “I thought it would be cool to see what a Tantric-MDMP song would sound like, and ‘Wicked Games’ was born.

“I didn’t really want to change the style of rock drastically from what Tantric listeners are used to, but just give it some of what I do,” Meyer explains. “When I sent Hugo the demo, he simply texted back ‘This is the one.’”

The fans who pushed Tantric’s eponymous debut to Gold status will indeed be overjoyed. But on a conceptual level, the song also bears the stamp of Meyer’s main influence, Nine Inch Nails. Over a relentlessly hammering drum pattern and guitars that veer from grinding to ringing, Ferreira draws the full drama out of Meyer’s neo-Reznor words of disillusionment and disgust:

You always said I was enough
You never complained I wasn’t up
For these wicked games
Is this what you really got to say
I won’t be pushed around
I’ll take this fight right to the ground
I hear you scream without a sound
The world knows
We were built too fast

The track is one of two that Meyer and Ferreira have worked up together, although whether the next one will prove to be as purposefully dour is anybody’s guess. Meyer tries to make room for a wide range of emotions in his music, to match a broad musical palate that encompasses styles as diverse as synth-heavy balladry and glam-metal rave-ups. From playing in his high-school marching band to serving in hard rock unit Sherry Drive, he was filling up his creative tank for quite some time before he relocated to Hawaii and started the innovative correspondence project that is MDMP. (The name, he reveals, means absolutely nothing — not even Military Decision-Making Process, as one might assume from that aforementioned stint in Iraq.)

The scope of Meyer’s vision was shown off on last year’s MDMP debut album, Day One. Almost five years in the making, the record ended up numbering a whopping 27 songs and clocking in at nearly two hours. It also showed off his highly interactive approach by featuring the work of musical collaborators from outposts as far as Kazakhstan and Taiwan.

“I don’t care where somebody lives,” Meyer says. “After all, the world is a collaborative effort, right?”

Let the “Games” begin.