At Home with Umphrey’s McGee’s Jake Cinninger
When asked what new music interests him these days, Jake is quick to clarify, ”I’m really tapped into Spotify right now, which allows me to listen to the old gems. I consciously avoid the new music as I never want to be influenced by anything in the modern tense, because that is the kiss of death. So I am always kind of going backwards…to come up with the future.” That being said, he admits; “I like the new pop singer, Lorde! I don’t know why, I just enjoy her sound. I’ve been really digging the new Deftones album, they are great because they just sound like themselves, and I have heard good things about a band from L.A. called Kyng. I’d like to check them out.”
I mention that while bandmate Ryan Stasik interacts more directly with the crowd, Jake seems to be more of an introvert. “I’m inside trying to nail everything. I wrap myself inside because there are a lot of micro movements on guitar that are easy to blow. Especially with the smoke and the lights going wild, hitting my pupils. That is why I usually wear a hat. It’s like the combat zone of rock and roll and it’s taught me to close my eyes and play more from my gut. It has helped me play by instinct.”
Umphrey’s is possibly the most fan-accessible band in action today. “Well, we are using technology to our advantage. Our website is completely geared towards our archives and we keep an open line for fan input. Everyone is always chasing the best of something, so we pay close attention to the giant voice of our collective fan base. We are working class musicians and we try to always flex our muscles. We will never be a novelty act. What if we all went out and got tattoos and wore black onstage?” He laughs, “It just wouldn’t work.”
As for the band's upcoming album on their new Nothing Too Fancy Records imprint, “The new record is totally Umphrey’s, it is mature. I am so proud of this project. It is full of big melodies you can’t get out of your head. It is arena rock, but not in a cheesy, sold out fashion.”
When asked about potential radio play, he responds, “Our fans are not worried about us being on air. We fall under the radar of being sort of a cult band, which is fine with me because so is Tool. They don’t really have a radio song and they are huge and awesome. There is a learning curve with Umphrey’s, like collecting baseball cards, you have to learn the stats. To really know it you have to go there. You have to put in the time.
The summer kicks off with a run of festival dates and a three night stand in London, England, followed by an onslaught of dates across the country, clearly showing no signs of slowing down. The new album will be released on June 10.
As I wrap up the visit, I have a moment of clarity. Just like the magic of any great performance, I drive away from our conversation wanting more.