They're three guys who met while working at Stadium Village standby Stub and Herbs...and one other guy. Well, not really. They're three guys well-known to Minneapolis music fans as members of the now-defunct Guystorm and Military Special...and one other guy. But UMAMI might prefer you think of them as a collection of service-industry stiffs (and one other guy) who've assembled for a new band. Vocalist Angelo Pennacchio, formerly of Guystorm, laments the inevitability of the "ex-so-and-so band" connection."We're just so sick of hearing that; people automatically pigeonhole us." But the bright side? "I like surprising them."
And indeed, it's a pleasant surprise to come at UMAMI knowing nothing about the band, or expecting a logical post-Guystorm/Military Special progression. Although they've played about a dozen shows, their name is relatively unsearchable, hard to Google. "It's all word-of-mouth—you couldn't find us on the internet, right?" Charlie Smith (ex-Military Special, keys/beats) chimes in. "We had that Radio K in-studio thing, is that impossible to find?" "It's on Vimeo," explains Peter Blomgren (ex-Military Special, guitar). "People have told me, 'Hey, I've literally searched UMAMI BAND MINNEAPOLIS and nothing comes up,' and I'm like, 'There's something on the internet.'"
While it's hard not to listen for remnants of their previous bands, UMAMI have ventured with resolve into psych-rock territory, a decision resulting in a matured, less in-your-face sound. "I think we've been pushing crunkadelic; psychedelic, but weird, down-low ghetto feel. Dance-y, as you'd imagine, but different. A little more R&B-grounded," Pennacchio explains. "We like to listen to different bands [when] we're trying to come up with ideas for songs...listening to MIA, Can, or Tobacco," Smith elaborates, as the rest shout out influences: "Dead Prez. Ludacris. Parliament. Stevie Wonder." And as for that other guy? He's bass player Tim Bass, a recent transplant from L.A. Pennacchio laughs. "We always hate when people say, 'ex-Military Special, ex-Guystorm,' but the one funny thing is when people are like, 'Yeah, with the people from Military Special and Guystorm...and this one other guy.' That's really funny. Us, and that one talented musical guy." [City Pages, October 2011]