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Interview: Umphrey's McGee - Group Therapy

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Interview: Umphrey's McGee - Group Therapy


Did the gear you used in the studio differ from your live rig?

Brendan Bayliss: It did for me. I used a few Bogner amps, including a Shiva and an Ecstasy. I usually use a pedalboard on the road but for this album, it was just one pedal, usually a Pro Co Rat. We were trying to find a specific tone for that song and beat it to the ground. On “Search 4” and “The Floor,” I plugged straight into the head.

Jake Cinninger: I was pretty much using the kitchen sink at Manny's because he has tons of guitars on hand. I used my old Kramer American guitar quite a bit—an early-’80s American version of a Kramer. It's a real quality-made guitar—one of the ones made in Neptune, New Jersey. I was messing around with an old Silvertone Twin head, a really gritty-sounding head like the one Jack White uses. I also used my Fuchs Overdrive Supreme ODS-100 a lot for the clean sounds. Other than that, it was mostly whatever was banging around the studio that felt right at the time for the song.

What pedals did you use?

Jake Cinninger: Yeah, I used a Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz that was all cracked up. I just found things would work better when it hit the clean stage of an amp. Certain pedals would break up a certain way or become more focused, and that’s what I was looking for. If I was going for a distorted sound, I would try to use the amp's distortion, because a pedal generally sounds like a pedal if you don't have the right one.

In your live rig, how do you divide the pedals between the amps?

Jake Cinninger: My clean amp has all the pedal options. If I want that Marshall crunch, I can just switch over to the B-side of the rig.

Brendan Bayliss: I pretty much have the same thing with my Mesa/Boogie Electra Dyne. Because it's so overdriven, you can't really use many effects through it. A delay would take off for two days.

Did you come across a sound in the studio that you implemented into your live rig?

Jake Cinninger: Actually, I used this vintage Morley EVO-1 pedal for the solo on “Domino Theory.” It didn't really sound like a regular wah because it had this phasing thing. It’s this big, nasty pedal that squeals and squelches making a sound like your guitar is puking. I can’t figure out how to get that sound anywhere else.


Photo: Jake Plimack
Nearly everyone in the band participates in at least one side-project. How did they come together?

Jake Cinninger: Umphrey’s is obviously the most important thing on the plate, but because we have been together for so long, it’s kind of inevitable. We meet people on the road and other things come about. It just makes sense to get outside of the box to stretch our musical ideals in other directions and come back fresh. We are about to go out for a month with Umphrey’s and it’s nice to know that while we had fun with some other friends, it’s time to go back to work with my real band.

What side projects do you have coming up?

Jake Cinninger: I have the OHMphrey thing with Chris Poland and Robbie Pagliari from OHM. That band also has Joel [Cummins] and Kris from Umphrey's. We just recorded a record two months ago in Los Angeles and it should be out within a month or two on Magna Carta. I also have my old band, Ali Babba Tahini band that was the band I was in before Umphrey’s. We kick around and try to do studio recordings and live shows whenever we can.

Brendan Bayliss: I have a side thing with Ryan [Stasik] and two guys from the New Deal. It's called The Omega Moos and we basically do ’80s covers in a techno-style, wanting to make the tunes feel a little more modern. The other thing I have is 30db with the mandolin player from Yonder Mountain String Band, Jeff Austin, and the drummer from North Mississippi Allstars, Cody Dickinson. For me, one is a techno thing and the other is an acoustic thing, so that fulfills any desire I have to spread out. It covers all the ground, but anytime I do any of that, it makes me really appreciate what I have with Umphrey’s. It just feels like coming back home. The side projects are a lot of fun but there’s a little more work because you are back in a van, you're driving, moving your own gear, and playing for 200 people. Again, it makes you appreciate what you have with Umphrey’s.
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