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Umphrey's McGee says next move could go in any direction

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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After the rock-focused approach of its last album, 2014's "Similar Skin," Umphrey's McGee is starting the process of figuring out what's next.

And that's never an easy task for the nearly 18-year-old "jam" band, which formed in South Bend, Ind., and comes to the Fillmore Detroit this weekend.

"I don't know what the next one's going to be," acknowledges singer-guitarist Brendan Bayliss. "Right now, if we wanted, we could put together real dance/party record. Or I have a bunch of acoustic stuff, so we could do an Americana record. But I feel like half the guys aren't really into that stuff.

"Usually what happens is we go into the studio in (western) Michigan and sit in a circle and kind of look through what we have. There's a constant pile of stuff, some of which has been sitting there for years. So kind of go through and see what everybody's into and pick 15 or 20 ideas and start there."

It's a process that's been working for Umphrey's since the sextet's cheekily titled 1998 debut "Greatest Hits Vol. III," but Bayliss, 38, says he's usually on pins and needles until something resolves itself.

"For some of the guys it's probably fun, but for me, I'm the natural worrier and stress case," he says with a laugh. "I don't like the unknown. Some of the guys probably love it, but I like solid ground.

"But it's a band and there's six people and we live in different parties of the country now and we're getting older and have families. I'm learning to just accept what comes and embrace it and ignore whatever doubts I have about anything and just press forward. That's one of my new year's resolutions, at least."

While there are no firm plans yet for the next album, Bayliss says Umphrey's is working on another project, though at this point he and his bandmates are sworn to "keep it under wraps for the time being."

"Obviously it's music-related," Bayliss says, "but I can't say much more than that. We're trying to finish it up now. All I can say is it's something we're really very proud of, very excited about. But we want it to be a surprise, so we've been keeping quite for now. But you'll definitely be hearing about it."

Umphrey's McGee

Saturday, Jan. 31. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $35 and $25.

Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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