Umphrey’s McGee Rhythm Section Workshop
On Umphrey’s McGee’s latest release, Death By Stereo, the rhythmic duo of drummer Kris Myers and percussionist Andy Farag weave an intricate, rock-solid foundation for some of the band’s most inventive and exciting material to date. We asked the guys to select a few of their favorite drum parts from the album, highlighting what they thought would prove the most interesting and fun for other drummers to learn.You can use the transcriptions here to learn each drummer’s part individually, and play along in real time with the exlcusive videos in which Myers and Farag demonstrate each one. You’ll also see exaclty how these parts are supposed to work in context when played together. And don’t forget to check out the bonus jam session.
Kris Myers: In my approach to “Search 4,” I wanted to create a pattern that put more emphasis on the rhythmic figures and accents in the song rather than play a straight-ahead beat. The song has a hard-rocking kind of feel with a lot of progressive tendencies, à la Tool and King Crimson. I felt that giving more weight to the accents would create a powerful, uniform sound with the full band … approaching it almost like a big band drummer. With that being said, I played some broken time patterns in the intro, accentuating some heavy guitar riffs, all the while playing the backbeat (2 and 4) on the snare drum. In the first four measures of the verse, I lay out and percussion sets the rhythmic pulse with an Afro Cubanesque conga pattern. Then, after four measures, as inspired by the congas, I mimic the unison guitar/bass riff with my toms, playing matching low to high drums to the low and high notes in the phrase, all the while playing an understated, improvised hi-hat pattern to connect the rhythmic hits into a unique, progressive pattern.
Throughout most of this song, I wanted to put a lot of emphasis on toms rather than a consistent kick/snare/hat groove. I just felt that the song was calling for something different, and so I weighed in on some various tom grooves and some broken-up double bass patterns, all the while still playing 2 and 4 on the snare. During Ryan [Stasik]’s bass solo, I broke down the dynamic to a soft, jazzier kind of feel. Very slowly and subtly I built the dynamic by sticking to more of a consistent kick/snare/hat pattern, but built it right with the solo. At the end of Ryan’s solo, we seemed to have found a similar syncopated phrase, and Jake [Cinninger, guitarist] picked up on it, and began his solo with the same phrase, letting the overall energy and momentum elevate to a full-on rock-fusion solo. Jake plays one of the most fantastic solos I’ve ever heard him play, and it ends with this spirit. This track is indeed one of my favorites and I really enjoyed working on it.
Andy Farag: The conga breakdown in “Search 4” is played differently each time. It’s more about feel than an actual written part. I jump in and out of the section playing a broken rhythm of flams as well as a more syncopated version of the tumbao. I came up with this part after initially hearing this section of the song, and after playing around with different ideas I felt it sounded best when I accented the rhythm of the melody, trying to be tasteful and not overplaying.