The music of Umphrey’s McGee unfolds like an unpredictable conversation between longtime friends. Its six participants—Brendan Bayliss [guitar, vocals], Jake Cinninger [guitar, vocals], Joel Cummins [keyboards, piano, vocals], Andy Farag [percussion], Kris Myers [drums, vocals], and Ryan Stasik [bass]—know just how to communicate with each other on stage and in the studio. A call of progressive guitar wizardry might elicit a response of soft acoustic balladry, or a funk groove could be answered by explosive percussion. At any moment, heavy guitars can give way to heavier blues as the boys uncover the elusive nexus between jaw-dropping instrumental virtuosity and airtight songcraft.
2018 saw the release of it’s not us and it’s you, [Nothing Too Fancy Music] the band’s eleventh and twelfth full-length studio albums. “[They] represent the band, because [they] basically run the gamut from prog rock to dance,” says Brendan. It’s also how the band celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Instead of retreading the catalog, they turn up with two albums worth of new tunes. “It’d be easy to play the hits from our first five or ten years,” continues Joel. “We’ve never been a band to rest on our laurels, though. New music is key to our continued development. We’re known as a strong live band, but we take so much pride in our writing.”
With over 2,400 gigs and 5 million tracks sold, the band, now in their 21st year, have enjoyed countless milestones and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. They became the first group to launch its own single artist streaming service with UMLive.net, which houses recordings of every gig since 2005. They recorded ten tracks in one day at Abbey Road for The London Session in 2015. 2016’s studio mash-up album, ZONKEY, smashed the strangest of bedfellows into a critically acclaimed collection that unites Radiohead and Beck, Talking Heads and Bob Marley, Metallica and Gorillaz, and more.
“There’s something uniquely Umphrey’s McGee that could never be mistaken for another band,” Joel concludes. “I hope it makes people think a little bit or shed a tear or two. Maybe, you smile or laugh. Life is hard. We still believe music can heal and motivate.” “We’re here,” Brendan leaves off. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re starting to find our identity.”