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Interview:
Umphrey's McGee is figuring out its next musical move
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

No one can say Umphrey's McGee doesn't have creative cajones.

For its latest release, "The London Sessions," the Michigan/Illinois/Indiana rock troupe recorded at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London -- the site of famed recordings by the Beatles, Pink Floyd and many more. It recorded the album in a scant 10 hours, and the group even had the guts to record a Beatles song ("I Want You (She's So Heavy)") in the same place it was originally recorded.

"Playing in Abbey Road was just a dream come true," keyboardist Joel Cummins reports by phone from the band's tour bus. "It feels somewhat surreal 'cause we were on there for 10 hours; we just dove head-first into it and got as much done as we cold. We didn't have the expectation of necessarily putting out anything, either; it was more like, 'Let's take advantage of the situation' and seeing what we could get done. I think that kind of helped add to our energy that day.

"So that's an experience I think we'll cherish forever."

The Beatles track was unplanned as well. "We were told, 'You guys have 10 minutes left and the house crew is done and needs to go home," recalls Cummins, 40, who co-founded the band in South Bend, Ind. "We had gone through all the original stuff at that point, so Jake (Cinninger), who's kind of our music historian in the band, said, 'Y'know, the last track the Beatles ever did in this studio was, 'I Want You (She's So Heavy);' what do you guys think about that?' 'cause that's a song we've played live probably 30 or 40 times and knew it well enough to just sit down and give it as hot.

"We were conscious that, 'OK, this is a very hallowed place. Let's not make a bad impression and kind of cheese it up.' But the engineers, when we got done with it, said, 'Wow, that was pretty good. You're one of the best live bands we've had in here in a long time.' To hear that from those guys was great."

Umphrey's is already starting to think about its next album, meanwhile. Cummins says the group has "a couple of things" already in motion, although what direction it takes is anybody's guess at this piont.

"I imagine it will keep the variety you would expect from Umphrey's McGee," Cummins says, "but at the same time I could see us putting out something we haven't done before, like something more acoustic. There's lots of different things between original ideas and other things we've put together. It's just a matter of what we feel like we want to do.

"And the nice thing about having your own record label (Nothing Too Fancy Music) is it really is our decision. So we'll see what happens."

Umphrey's McGee and Lettuce

6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15.

Meadow Brook Music Theatre on the campus of Oakland University.

Tickets are $27.50 pavilion in advance, $30 day of show, and $19.50 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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