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Interview:
STS9, Umphrey's McGee pursuing musical "bromance" during summer tour
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Sound Tribe Sector 9's Zach Velmer expects "a lot of bromances" [cq] to be part of his group's run of late summer dates with Umphrey's McGee.

The two bands are certainly cut from similar creative cloth. Both operate in the jam band scene, playing inventive and aggressively improvised music -- Georgia's STS9 with a more electronic flavor than its Indiana-based tour mates. But beyond that is a friendship the group have developed from previous touring together as well as billings on many of the same festivals.

"We're all buds, so that's what we're stoked about, too," says Velmer, 34. "Usually you're in and out of festivals and you get to say hello, but to get to be on the road together for two weeks, it's a cool connect. We'll get some different energy than just being on a regular Sound Tribe tour."

Umphrey's guitarist Jake Cinninger, who owns and operates a recording studio in Niles, Mich., says his band feels much the same way. "We've known Sound Tribe for years," he says. "What we're really looking forward to is probably more collaborations at the end of the night where whoever is closing that night will host the band that went on first. During the day we'll hang around and see what happens. Every day I'm sure there'll probably be some sort of collaboration, which is great."

The tour also catches both groups in similar positions. Umphrey's is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its debut album, "Greatest Hits Vol. III," while STS9 is marking 15 years since its formation. And both groups are working on new albums: Velmer says STS9's is "90 percent done" and has "captured the essence" of the group's live show in the studio; while Cinninger says Umphrey's has held three recording sessions so far, with more planned for the fall.

"We've got, I think, about 18 tunes," he says. "Now we just have to do the vocals and a little tweaking and then skim the best tunes off the top for the record. The last record (2011's 'Death By Stereo') seemed to be a little bit of everywhere; on this new record we want to get back to just a groovy, good rock album -- not to progressive, not too funky. We jsut want to keep the vibe in that big rock vein."

Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Umphrey's McGee perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $35 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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