On Friday afternoon, Stic was able to catch-up with Andy Farag, percussionist for Umphrey's McGee. These are no new kids on the block! They have been around for twelve years and are still holding strong. They will be playing on Saturday at Chicago's North Coast Festival. Don't miss out seeing these guys, you never know what stunt they might pull out!
Q & A:
Stic: It seems the band has gone through some ups and down adding member (you) and loosing member (Mike), but you all have pulled threw and been a band has been around since 1997. What would be some advice you would give to bands still in the beginning stages?
Andy: When we were starting out, you need to believe in yourself, you need to be confinement in what you are doing. I went to IU, and just up and quiet college. When I look back, I realize I had the confidence in myself and thought positive and knew it would work. Bands get down on themselves because the crowd isn’t big. Just keep trying to grow, and grow your fan base.
Stic: Since you have been around since 1997, do you try and grow a younger fan base?
Andy: We don’t try and get a younger crowd. At a recent show at Tabernacle, Atlanta-we had an amazing young crowd. Its not fully high school crowd, but we are for sure starting to see a much younger crowd. We want all age bases and to appeal to all age bases. We play at colleges; we even have played at high school proms. Thos are always interesting! [laughs] We are always striving to be exposed to a younger crowd. We love playing at colleges; they are hungry for new music and sound.
Stic: In 2006 you received a four star rating from Rolling Stone, what were you all doing when you received the news of that honor?
Andy: That’s a great honor! It was really exciting. As soon as that comes out you don’t know if they are going to review it or not. You get email from manager. Wow! You do have to take it will a grain of salt. Those reviews won’t turn you into a huge phenomenon, like the Grammies. You still need to remain humble. Sometimes things like that can go to your head; you need keep things in prospective.
Stic: You’ve played at Bonnaroo several times. One time in particular sticks out to me, playing for over 100,000, and beating CD sales of Widespread Panic, how did that feel? What were some reactions from the band?
Andy: It was like doing a whole countrywide tour, and all these people coming to one place. That was the largest crowd we have played. It was such a rush! They have since moved to a different style of music, it’s more mainstream now. It’s for sure changed over the years.
Stic: That is true Bonnaroo has become more main steam with indie bands and Jay-Z this past year, same with Coachella as well. Now you are going to be playing at North Coast next weekend it’s a mixture as well.
Andy: Yes, I personally listen to hip-hop a lot, and like the line up for North Coast and it’s the hometown for the band. We have thousands of listeners in Chicago, and we get a rep of jam band, like it’s a negative connotation. We do have long winded jams, and super long solos. With that said we try to put together a cohesive show with a progressive rock style.
Stic: Since you like hip-hop do you tie that into your music?
Andy: Yes we tie in hip-hop. We try and tie in all sorts of music and genres. Besides maybe for opera and polka. [laughs] We have done Snoop Dawg and Dr. Dre. I just really like underground hip-hop. My brother and I have even started our own record label.
Stic reader fan question: I’ve noticed Umphrey's has considerably changed their style/sound from "Local Band Does OK" (More Funk/Groove) to the current "Mantis" album and that many fans go back and forth on which type of Umphrey's sound they like or dislike. What are your thoughts on the subject?
Andy: Our biggest influences are The Beatles, Pink Floyd and progressive rock bands, we do some funk tunes and easy rock tunes. It’s part of the band involving. It has involved being a little heaver from when the band first formed. We like to write a song on the spot, use musical key and change tempos. More constructive improve. Less noodling and figuring it out and listen and use ques.
Stic reader fan question: From the past 12 years, what are a few shows that come to mind that contained high music points or entertaining incidents with fans, friends, etc.?
Andy: New Years Show, 2 years ago at the Auditorium Theatre. We had a choir come on stage. I’ve never felt that sort of energy, it was amazing! I just wanted to sit back and just listen. The Atlanta last February was a high moment, and something we didn’t expect. The day of show we found out its sold out, it was just young and energetic. Very high-energy show!
Stic reader fan question: What do you guys normally do on tour when you have 3 days off?
Andy: Most days we have off… are 2 days. I’ve been training for triathlon. Some people will fly home. Just relax. We will pull up in a hotel in a cool town like Boston and Virginia Beach and just get away from normal routine. We will go to baseball games and play golf.
Stic reader fan question: Have you guys realized now after playing numerous shows in both locations that Ann Arbor is a way cooler town than South Bend?
Andy: That’s a trick question! [laughs] Absolutely not! We enjoy playing in both places.
Go here to check out more information on Umphrey’s McGee.
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