If your band has been around for 15 years and you have released almost 20 albums and live DVDs combined, then you are definitely doing something right. Andy Farag — the percussionist for the popular progressive rock band Umphrey’s McGee — understands the secret to the band’s longevity.
“Our fans are the reason why we’re able to do this,” Farag says. “We don’t make money selling records. I know there aren’t many people who do, but we’re definitely not making a living that way, so we feel it’s really important to give the fans what they want, and to interact with them at shows and not be isolated.”
Fans want, and Umphrey’s McGee giveth. They have been producing a podcast for the last eight years that includes live performances from recent shows and “couch tours” where fans can watch a concert taking place at a certain venue pay-per-view style from home, and they are notorious for their pre-and post-gig meet-and-greets with fans at their merch table.
“It’s our way of showing our appreciation for these people who are so loyal to us and drive so many miles to see our shows,” Farag says. “They give to us and we give to them. And for us too, it’s really cool to go out and meet our fans and actually be able to go one-on-one with them and meet them face-to-face. It helps us understand our fans more and figure out what they want. We want them to be happy.”
With ever-changing set lists, live songs that roll into epic jams and dance parties and true fan love, fans of Umphrey’s McGee will most certainly be happy.
Umphrey’s McGee with Bright Light Social Hour play 8 pm Friday, March 15, at McDonald Theatre; $20 adv., $25 door. — Brian Palmer