Once More With Umph: Brendan Bayliss Reader Interview (Five Years On)
Does having 15 employees carry added pressure and should it?
BB- Well it’s a necessary evil. If you want to keep growing you’re going to have to keep bringing people on. The advice that I’ve been given is try to keep it as small as possible. But for us, our manager went to college with us, our sound guy went to college with us, our light guy went to grade school with me. We’re all good friends, so it’s not like we’re hiring a bunch of random people. So I think the pressure is felt by everybody. Vince, our manager, feels it just as much as Joel on keyboards. People have the same at stake.
“When was the last time you were nervous on-stage or before a show?” Kevin M
BB- Soundstage, the Soundstage taping but that was for PBS.
How about before then?
BB- I only get nervous if there’s nobody there. If it’s like super crowded, I’m really excited. So I did an open mike night with a friend of mine Michelle on a Monday night in Chicago and there were like 15 people in the room and I was terrified. But 1500 people, I wouldn’t have a problem. I don’t know why that is.
“What was your first concert?” Ryan S
BB- Paul Simon, Graceland tour. And it was bad ass.
“What was it like opening for Dave Matthews Band? Was there any banter between bands backstage?”
BB- I didn’t know what to expect and I have nothing but really good things to say. They treated us better than we deserved.
It was really great. That was something where I could finally tell my parents and they got it, “Oh, I’ve heard of the Dave Matthews Band, you must be doing something right.” They were really cool to us, giving us a lot of compliments and hanging out in catering talking to us. They were very normal and Carter Beauford said some really nice things. I asked Carter if we could be the full time opening band because the catering was like the best food I’d ever had I my life.
Dave said some really nice things too, which kind of gives you a little confidence booster when you’re going to go out and play to an empty shed. He’d come out and talk to us right before the shows, give us a little pep talk and the last few days he was making fun of me because I was wearing my glasses. He said I looked liked David Cross, the guy from Mr. Show.
Since you mentioned your glasses, here’s one. “My question: umph fans know that when you wear your glasses it’s always going to be the “heat.” Is this intentional, a hint you drop to the superfans to hang onto our butts? Or simply coincidence?” Jon A
BB- I’ve never once thought about, so why don’t we do ne experiment. The next time we do two nights I’ll wear glasses one night and we’ll see which show sucks.
Is there a reason why you wear glasses on a given night?
BB- Sometimes it’s just easier not to worry about it and sometimes when it’s a real smoky room wearing contact lenses get irritating.
Ideally, would you only perform in non-smoking rooms?
BB- Yeah, for our health in the long term. Joel has really bad allergies and it really fucks with them. From the concertgoer experience I’d like the option to smoke but I’m not going to the concert. I have to be there every night, so sorry if you smoke, I guess. I’m trying to quit myself so it’s good for me.
“Who comes up with your set lists? Do you guys rotate every night or does one band member usually pick them?” William L
BB- Usually what happens is we’ll get a list printed up of the last two times we were in a town and that will kind of be laying around and between Jake, Joel, me and Ryan the four of us will rotate it. So we’ll leave a list out and people can chime in but usually one of the four of us will spearhead it and if someone’s done it three or four times a row, then they won’t feel like doing it and they’ll pass it along to somebody else. It’s never just one person.
If you were to look at a set list would have a good sense as to which band member wrote it?
BB- Yes, definitely.
How would you characterize your various approaches?
BB- It’s hard to verbalize but I can just tell. Joel has a tendency to try and really go out of left field and kind of force a sandwich of some kind with things that we’ve never normally put together. I guess I’d be more conservative in terms of what would be a good opener, what would be a good closer, would be a good encore and the middle stuff will flesh itself out.
What about Jake?
BB- He’s more into the written “Stewarts,” the written chord progression chart things. So if there’s one that was heavy with that it would be on that.
“I own the New year’s DVD that UM did in 2004. I was wondering if they have any plans to do a full show concert DVD?” Michael D
BB- Yes we plan on doing it. Right now we wanted to get the live album out and now we’re working on getting a new studio album out and once that happens I’m sure we’ll talk about another concert video but right now the priority is on the studio album.
“This may be self evident but how come Ryan does not sing?” Salem K
BB- He has this weird sense of vocal pitch. For the last ten years he’s claimed he can’t sing but I know he can sing a unison, he just can’t sing a harmony. He can sing along with somebody note for note but if you ask him to do a harmony, he’s gone. He’s embarrassed and doesn’t want to do it but I think it’s great whenever he does.
“I often see you in shirts with The Store’ on it. Is there an office there, or is it just a store?” Eric M
BB- It’s a bar. One of my friend Kevin Kostelecky owns the bar and without his help I’d be shirtless. But he’s one of the guys I started the charity with (USTORM) and there is an office at the store, that’s the charity’s office.
“How does it feel to play Verizon Wireless Music Center (Formally Deer Creek) in Indianapolis, when years ago, the band would play for free at a campground before the Phish Shows. Did you honestly envision this would ever happen?” Kelly B
BB- No. Not to get all corny on you but I remember at one point thinking how really blessed we felt. From having to play for free because no one would listen to us otherwise, to then getting paid and fed well and getting to play in there. When I was I high school and college, I’d seen there so many concerts there that it was really special, that and Red Rocks.
“When all is said and done and you guys are old men reflecting back on your musical career, what do you want your legacy to be?” Chris L
BB- I don’t care about the legacy. Ten years from now the main goal for us is still be a band, still doing this, still writing, still playing live. We even talked about this a couple weeks ago. Hopefully we can still be doing this when we’re all 40 years old. As for legacy, I don’t really care what people think, I just don’t want to get a real job.