To kick off their “New Wings” music video, perennial improv-rock favorites Umphrey’s McGee turn to a George Lucas-esque setup before the tape rolls:
“It is March 2020. The world has entered a pandemic lockdown. EVERYONE IS HOME. After 22 years, Umphrey’s McGee is unable to tour. Amidst the global chaos, they reach out to each other, and to their fans. To do this, they must spread NEW WINGS.”
Quickly, the text dissolves into a series of photos and videos from the band’s Asking For A Friend recording sessions before revealing the star of the show; a hyper-detailed miniature set designed to reflect the creative spaces that the band shared during their Covid recording process. Directed, designed, and edited by Pete Herzog—and miniatures by Stephanie Herzog—the video glides through rooms in the micro “House of Umph,” catching glimpses of hidden song props scattered throughout. Woven between the set piece shots and the behind-the-scenes footage, “New Wings” captures the retrospective of the entire album and recording process.
Fans can watch the “New Wings” video debut tonight at 8pm central at this link. Immediately following the premiere, stick around for a live conversation between Director Pete Herzog & Producer Kevin Browning as they explore the creative process behind constructing the video and building the intricately detailed House of UM. Don’t forget to check out the just-released album Asking For A Friend here. A list of Umphrey’s McGee tour dates can be found below or at umphreys.com/tour.
In conjunction with the “New Wings'' video release, the band is holding a contest for fans to find easter eggs among the many, mini details that make up the video’s “set.” For each level of easter eggs found, UM will unlock a new prize for fans—anything from merch store discount codes to the band’s infamous Golden Tickets. For more information on the contest, please visit umphreys.com.
More About Asking For A Friend: Mostly recorded in three distinct sessions at three different studios during the pandemic and never played live—their first album since 2009’s Mantis of which fans haven’t gotten a sneak peek of from stage—Asking For A Friend explores a feeling that UM guitarist and vocalist Brendan Bayliss describes as “tapping into the idea that we were all isolated yet somehow still connected and experiencing the same emotions.” That isolated feeling is perfectly captured in the album’s cover art: the lonely, surrounded-by-clouds peak of Chicago’s John Hancock Center (or 875 N Michigan Ave) photographed by “Chicago’s Picture Poet” himself, Barry Butler.
Asking For A Friend began to take shape in a pre-COVID world in September 2019 when the band met up with longtime UM engineer Greg Magers and producer Ryan Hewitt (Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers) in Nashville for a session that would ultimately produce standalone UM single “Suxity” as well as the first few tracks of this new album. Session two found the band at guitarist Jake Cinninger’s home studio in Niles, Michigan, deep in the throes of the first few months of the global pandemic. Working on new music by day and performing via live stream at night proved to be highly successful and entertaining for the band who’d just been sidelined a mere three months before. The final full-band session for Asking For A Friend took place at ECTO productions in Chicago, a.k.a. the band’s production warehouse. Relying on the record during the day/perform at night mentality once more, UM completed full-band, live tracking for the record before putting finishing touches on from their home studios. “It was a real welcome change to be able to sing the vocals in my pajamas,” says Bayliss.
Pulling the ripcord and taking an enforced break after twenty years of touring resulted in not only a complex emotional reaction from members of Umphrey’s McGee. "Those first three months felt like an eternity," keyboardist Joel Cummins says. But "there was a huge excitement and motivation when we got back together again. More than ever, we realized how much we needed each other and this music. But their reunion also refined a newfound approach to letting their new music flow freely; not over-thinking it. “This album reflects how our songwriting has really come a long way since the days of putting ‘legos’ together, a term given to explain our past process of assembling the greater sum of the parts in eclectic fashion,” says drummer Kris Myers. “Instead, we were able to naturally connect with these songs with our hearts, and a little less from our heads through simple, serene songs.” The end result is an astoundingly cohesive fourteen-song album that feels like a fresh statement from a group of world-class musicians and friends reapproaching their craft with a new lens, but long-time fans will be happy to know that the Umphrey’s McGee they know and love is still very much present on Asking For A Friend, just more refined. More focused.
Catch Umphrey’s McGee On Tour:
Aug. 5-7 - Kenai Peninsula, AK - Salmonfest
Aug. 18 - Indianapolis, IN - TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park $
Aug. 19 - Maryland Heights, MO - Saint Louis Music Park $
Aug. 20 - Pelham, TN - The Caverns Amphitheater $
Aug. 21 - Pelham, TN - The Caverns Amphitheater
Aug. 24 - Grand Rapids, MI - Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Aug. 26-28 - Bridgeview, IL - Sacred Rose Festival
Sept. 1 - San Diego, CA - The Observatory North Park
Sept. 2 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Palladium
Sept. 3 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
Sept. 4 - Reno, NV - Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
Sept. 8 - Salt Lake City, UT - Red Butte Garden
Sept. 9 - Bozeman, MT - The ELM
Sept. 29 - Richmond, VA - Music at Maymont
Sept. 30 - Wilmington, NC - Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
Oct. 1 - Savannah, GA - Johnny Mercer Theatre
Oct. 2 - Birmingham, AL - Avondale Brewing Company
$ Co-bill with The Disco Biscuits
For a full list of shows, as well as ticket information, please visit umphreys.com/tour.