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Interview:
Umphrey's McGee plans only for surprises
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Umphrey's McGee prides itself on having what founding singer-guitarist Brendan Bayliss calls "musical ADD" -- and on a degree of "faking it" since the jam-inclined rock group formed during 1997 in South Bend, Ind.

"We've never really had a planned and just kind of play what was interesting to us," explains Bayliss, 35. "We can't really stay in the same spot for too long. We all listen to so many different styles and have so many different influences...

"I mean, you have (drummer) Kris Meyers with a master's degree in jazz performance, and I grew up listening to the Beatles -- and there's a lot in-between. So we try to be very democratic and let everyone get their piece of the piece and make their contributions, and so far it's worked."

Bayliss says Umphrey's has also learned "to play to a wide variety of musical tastes and settings" over the years -- from rock clubs to festivals to zoo amphitheaters and even a show in the Super Bowl XLVII village earlier this month. "The audiences are all different," he notes, but one thing that stays constant is a certain acrimony towards the group members' devotion to their alma mater, Notre Dame.

"I guess we deserve it," Bayliss says. "If we have a good team and we're doing well, I'll wear a jersey on game day. I remember we played in Austin, Texas, a few years ago. We beat Texas that day, and as soon as we finished and said 'Thank you, good night,' we played the (Notre Dame) fight song over the PA and scattered.

"The audience just booed, but I was proud."

Umphrey's McGee performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $22.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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