Photo: Shervin Lainez (Press Here)

Umphrey’s McGee Gives Us Another Futuristic Light Show With Their “Forks” Video (premiere)

Directed by Umphrey's McGee's light designer, Jefferson Waful, "Forks" is a blast into the future following the events of a spectacular solar flare.

Kicking 2018 off with a brand new album in the form of it’s not us, Umphrey’s McGee is set to celebrate their 20th anniversary year in style. The renowned progressive rockers have been hitting the jam band circuit for over two whole decades now. With the ongoing evolution of their sound so many years into it, it doesn’t look like that’ll be stopping anytime soon either. Nothing says “evolution” quite like a vision of the future, either, and that’s exactly what the sci-fi thrills of their newly-released music video for “Forks” provides.

The specs for the video live up to its futuristic themes, too. Having been shot in 4K with 24/96 hi-res audio, director and Umphrey’s McGee light designer Jefferson Waful has developed a dream of a video that fully encompasses the vision that he so clearly set out to define. It all starts with news of an incoming solar flare, followed by power outages that provide the greatest irony in allowing humanity to slow down, embrace one another, and find the light they’d been missing in the darkness. It’s topped off by a miraculous show of natural show of lights throughout the world that the band’s legions of fans will more than likely recognize as something akin to the incredible light shows that they often bring to their live performances.

Umphrey’s McGee songwriter/guitarist Jake Cinninger and Jefferson Waful sat down with PopMatters for a Q&A regarding the song “Forks” and its music video.

What is “Forks” about?

“Sometimes time flies by without recognizing the people that surround you are the fabric of our lives. Sometimes we forget to make sure everyone is ok. Friendship can be the easiest and the most difficult thing as we move through times of change. In the dark, search for the light.” — Jake Cinninger

Who or what were some influences when it came to creating the “Forks” video?

“It’s hard to pinpoint who or what influenced the creation of this video. On a subconscious level, it would be impossible not to recognize the countless hours of MTV I watched as a kid. We are what we eat, and I consider consuming audio and visuals to be the same concept. Did the November Rain video influence me? Probably, but it’s hard to pinpoint where creativity or inspiration comes from. It was a challenge editing in an odd time signature, which I didn’t pick up from MTV, but my experience as a lighting designer helped.” — Jefferson Waful

Any interesting stories from developing the video that you would like to share?

“At first the goal for the video was just to use captivating visuals, but as it came together, I realized there needed to be more of a cohesive story. At the beginning of the project, I had no idea what the story would be. As I started going through concepts, I came across these amazing videos of the Northern Lights. The lyrics mention ‘search for a light’ and I thought it might be a funny play on words to include some gorgeous footage of a glowing night sky. It’s a pretty coy and subtle joke, like ‘Looking for a light? How about the Aurora Borealis?'”

“The problem was there was no story, and I didn’t want to just crowbar in a random shot of the heavens. At some point, I had the idea of a blackout, which is an even more literal interpretation of the chorus: ‘Shit the power is out, anyone got a light?’ I Googled ‘Aurora Borealis blackout’, and to my amazement, it’s actually a science-based phenomenon and is somewhat plausible. All of the online articles included in the video are real. Of course, the actual meaning of the lyrics is completely metaphoric. If you ask a light guy to make a video about searching for a light, I guess this is what you get.” — Jefferson Waful