Chicago-based rock band Umphrey’s McGee are aiming to release their eighth studio album later this year and they tell Rolling Stone that they’re trying to break away from their improv-heavy live shows to create a concise, cohesive rock experience.
“When you’re a young band in the studio, at first you think it’s about just playing the right notes and playing them in time and making something that sounds better than what you can do as a live band,” keyboardist Joel Cummins tells Rolling Stone. “Now it’s about getting [the album,] emotionally, exactly where it needs to be.”
Produced by Manny Sanchez (Fall Out Boy) and recorded in Chicago and California, the new album is full of “fun, chunky riffs,” with some of their dancier, electronic cuts falling to the wayside. They cite bands like Betwen the Buried Me, Queens of the Stone Age, Yes and King Crimson as influences this time around. “A lot of what is being put out now is kind of leaning more towards the electronic side of things,” explains Cummins. “This is the trend of where things are. Let’s try and go in the opposite direction.”
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One of the tracks, “Puppet String,” is already in the band’s live repotoire and another, “Educated Guess” is one that Cummins describes as “awesome avant-garde weird stuff. There’s not another song out there that sounds like [it].”
The band is financing the album themselves, and will self-release it on their own record label. They plan to put the final touches on it after their latest tour concludes in April. “I think there’s definitely a few tracks on this that will help make us some new fans,” says Cummins. “I really hope this is something people are going to spend a lot of time listening to with headphones.”