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The Story Behind the Surprise Umphrey’s McGee Album Drop

Dean Budnick | May 18, 2018

Umphrey’s McGee has a special message for fans:

it’s not us, it’s you.

However this riff on George Constazna’s break-up routine from Seinfield does not portend closure but rather signifies a new beginning.

In the first few moments of Friday morning, May 18, the group released a previously unannounced new studio record, titled it’s you (available here), which serves as a companion piece to the group’s January album, it’s not us. The new record presents 10 original songs, 7 of which have yet to surface in the live setting (“Attachments” and “Upward” are currently in rotation while “In The Black” has been briefly tabled due to a new arrangement).

While Umphrey’s recorded the material on it’s you at IV Lab Studios in Chicago, IL back in November 2016 during the same sessions that yielded the tracks on it’s not us, the group decided to play it all close to the vest in an effort to offer fans a sweet surprise. Indeed, it wasn’t until this past weekend that guitarist/vocalist Brenadan Bayliss shared the news of the album with his mom.

“We’d all sworn ourselves to secrecy,” he explains. “I finally told my parents on Mother’s Day. I felt that I had to tell my mother because Ryan Stasik wrote a song that has some foul language in it [“Hanging Chads”] and I had to give her the fair warning. So that was the first time I told them but I didn’t tell everyone in my family because I wanted to keep it a shock to everybody and be able to say, ‘Oh, guess what? Here’s a whole new album’ and the only way that happens is if nobody knows. I have a couple of close friends that I definitely did not say anything to. There were a couple people in the organization that we didn’t even tell.”

Beyond the pure glory and glee of dropping an unexpected new record, keyboard player Joel Cummins suggests that there’s something else at play as well: “This is 20 years into Umphrey's McGee, and not only do we have one new album of music, we have two albums of music. We’re more fired up than we ever have been about the stuff that we’re putting out. I think that these two albums really do complement each other, but at the same time they’re two completely separate pieces of art that stand on their own. I think you can kind of tell they’re from the same era, but at the same time they’re very much their own pieces of creativity. They’re time capsules of where we are at this time, and that we’re having a lot of fun being creative together, getting out there and doing it.”