Evan Longoria gets Tantric, and Tantric gets Evan Longoria
Opposing pitchers know Evan Longoria carries a pretty big stick.
He also carries a mean set of drumsticks — an avid drummer, he even keeps a kit hidden deep inside Tropicana Field.
So it’s no surprise members of Tantric tried to recruit Longoria to sit in on drums when the band takes the stage Friday for a free postgame concert at Tropicana Field. The concert follows the Rays vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Friday at Tropicana Field. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. (Click here for details.)
It would be a good fit. Tantric may not be a household name, but they’re a huge hit at the Trop. The Kentucky band's spooky alt-rock tune Down and Out is the song fans hear every time Longoria comes to the plate.
As such, it’s probably the only song at Tropicana Field more popular than Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Just the first notes of Down and Out’s squealy, menacing electric violin strings is enough to send Rays fans into a frenzy.
“We got really lucky that he chose our song,” Tantric violinist Marcus Ratzenboeck said this week. (That's him, above, with Longoria, left, and guitarist Joey Pessia, right.) “It definitely gives us some notoriety. ... It’s become a staple for him and for us, too.”
Tantric rose to fame thanks to their single Breakdown, a top 10 hit in 2001. But personal differences quickly tore the band apart. When vocalist Hugo Ferreira formed a new band under the Tantric name, Ratzenboeck was one of the first musicians he brought on board. The two composed Down and Out around an electric violin riff Ratzenboeck did in Ferreira’s home studio, and it became the lead single from their 2008 comeback album The End Begins.
“Definitely, that song put Tantric back on the map, because from ’04, there was nothing until ’08,” Ratzenboeck said.
In a lucky coincidence, 2008 also happened to be Longoria’s rookie year. A month and a half into his rookie season, the third baseman plucked Down and Out from his iPod, and it’s been his walk-up song ever since.
“When I first came up to the Rays, they threw on Tupac, California Love,” Longoria told OperationSports.com in December. “I’m a big Tupac fan, but I think they just did it because I’m from Cali. But I love the way (Down and Out) sounds when I come up to the plate. The guys down in the bullpen told me I can’t change it, because when it comes on, they’re all down there pretending like they’re playing the violin.”
Longoria wasn’t the first athlete to pick a Tantric song as his entrance music; MMA fighters, wrestlers and even some baseball players have also done it. “It’s just got a badass vibe that they like,” Ratzenboeck said. “It seems to be one of those unique songs that seems to motivate people.”
Longoria’s connection to the song suddenly gave Tantric a new claim to fame. It even led to Down and Out being included in the video game Major League Baseball 2K10. Longoria is the game’s cover boy.
Ratzenboeck is a Rays fan who grew up in Sarasota, but not everyone is thrilled about the connection, he said. Guitarist Joey Pessia is a diehard Red Sox fan, and bassist Erik Leonhardt pulls for the Yankees.
Still, there are perks to walk-up music noteriety. Last spring, Ratzenboeck was invited to the Trop to perform the national anthem and a live rendition of Down and Out for Longoria’s first at-bat. “He grounded out, so I don’t know if we’ll do it this year,” he said.
If Longoria ever gets in a slump and decides to ditch Tantric, Ratzenboeck said he wouldn’t be hurt.
“It’s been a couple of years that he’s used it. If he wants to switch, that’s his perogative,” Ratzenboeck said. “Maybe he’ll pick another one of our songs.”
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*