A Chit-chat with… Umphrey’s McGee

Over the weekend, I was able to sit down for an interview with Kris Myers. In addition to drumming for Umphrey’s McGee, a headlining act at Summer Camp, Kris is a member of Drop Q, a quartet that also performed at the festival. Check out his comments on a new album, experience in two different bands, and – oddly enough – his first words:

buzz: How do you think that your shows (with Umphrey’s McGee at Summer Camp Music Festival) went this year?

Kris: The shows this year went really well. We felt at home, we’re very confident right now, more than ever, but we just really felt a “clean slate” vibe with each other, going on the stage and having a good mindset and attitude about things.

buzz: I was talking to Jake (Cinninger, guitarist for Umphrey’s McGee), and he said you guys were recording – what’s up with that?

Kris: We’re recording a new album and it will be done and released probably in a year from now. The new songs probably will not be played until sometime after the release.

buzz: Is it all new?

Kris: All brand new songs.

buzz: When did you guys start the process of getting that music together?

Kris: We started the process . some songs were done six months ago, some songs were even written a few years ago. It’s just little ideas here and there that we put together, and then variety around certain themes and motifs, certain melodies and things. We just eventually put it together in a certain way that’s Umphrey’s McGee, and then we make it a song and move on with. We have a whole new vision for a whole new concept and sound that’s going to be very different, it’s going to be very interesting.

buzz: What’s that vision like?

Kris: Well, I don’t know how I could tell you, because I don’t want to give it away. I want it to be a surprise .

buzz: It better be a good surprise!

Kris: I’m sure we won’t disappoint.

buzz: So, what’s it like in your position to be playing for two different bands at the same festival?

Kris: Drop Q helps me get out those Drum and Bass grooves and the electronic beats that I love to play, and explore that genre. It separates the electronic scene a little bit from the jam scene, and we don’t improvise too much – make it a little more balanced with arrangement.

buzz: Does it help you to get back to those jazz roots of yours through Drop Q?

Kris: Well, it’s important for me particularly to have those outlets. I just can’t get by playing one particular style of music, no disrespect to any genre or any band or project, especially Umphrey’s – Umphrey’s will always be my home, so to speak, for music. But, I think that I have to have those side projects, as long as it doesn’t get in the way with my time and my health and energy, of course. I have to balance that out very carefully.

buzz: Do you think it would be difficult for you, if you weren’t involved with Drop Q, or something similar to that?

Kris: Would I get restless? Yeah, I probably would. And I have, actually, so I’ve needed to figure out a way to make a simple transition from here and there, to do a club date back home with a trio or quartet once in a while.

buzz: Are there any other shows this summer that you’re looking forward to seeing?

Kris: The Police. Absolutely. My mom got my tickets for my 30th birthday … they’re my favorite all-time band. I’ve been hearing their records since before I was even walking – I think the first thing I ever said to my mom in a full sentence was, “Don’t stand so close to me.” Sounds kind of freaky, but it’s true.

buzz:A Police lyric, you’re clearly born to be in music.

Kris: I think that’s how it went. It was one of the first things I learned to say.

buzz: Anything else you’re seeing?

Kris: I’m seeing Genesis in the fall, I’m seeing a couple of hip-hop artists in my neighborhood – I just saw this rapper named Madlib. Madlib is sick, and he’s also a great DJ. I saw him in my neighborhood at this place called Sonotheque in Chicago. It’s kind of a hip gem for anyone who wants to see some random guest appearances by famous rappers and DJs. It’s a really sick club; I’ll probably be frequenting that area a lot for shows. I’m just curious to look for new talent, or new music that I haven’t heard.

buzz: Are you into the hip-hop scene a lot?

Kris: Yeah, I’m getting into it again. I’ve been away from it for a while, but I’m really digging what hip-hop is offering these days, really noticing their sounds progressing in the genre in itself. I think it’s becoming more musical than ever. It’s just a feeling, and electronic music, the same thing. I want to see some new electronica bands, some drum and bass stuff whenever I can, if they’re ever in town. I just think the beats are really revolutionary and groundbreaking, and of any scene out there pushing the envelope on certain things, it’s definitely those scenes that are a part of it.

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