Pete Herzog’s hand-drawn short, produced with his wife in a hot tub, illustrates band member Jake Cinninger’s tale of how they named their upcoming album filled with selections from decades of their concert ‘walk-on’ music.
Veteran animator and multi-disciplinary creator Pete Herzog has just shared with AWN his new collaboration, created on a dry erase board, that’s an origin story of sorts for Umphrey’s McGee’s upcoming album of walk-on music, You Walked Up Shaking in Your Boots but You Stood Tall and Left a Raging Bull, as told by band member Jake Cinninger.
Umphrey's McGee is the ultimate “jam” band, a touring powerhouse that routinely performs 85+ shows per year with their innovative mix of progressive guitar wizardry, soft acoustic balladry, and funky grooves. The band has created and utilized custom "walk-on" music for decades, and after too many days cooped up during the pandemic, is releasing an album filled with nothing but. The album officially drops tomorrow, July 16.
The video, drawn by Pete and his wife Stephanie Herzog, was directed by Pete and produced by the band’s manager, Kevin Browning. The story, provided by Cinninger, one of the band's lead guitarists and singers, tells the tale that spawned “the latest in succinct album titles” from the band.
Pete Herzog has spent more than 25 years in the computer animation industry and is the executive producer of Flight School Studios. During COVID, as the entertainment and live events industry took a hit, he and Stephanie started creating a series of dry erase doodles every week from their hot tub. “It was therapeutic being free to express so many emotions from the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and the election,” says Pete. “I usually see a concert once a week as an escape from daily stress, but instead we listened to music and let the dry erase markers provide us a new creative outlet.”
Having partnered with Umphrey’s McGee on multiple projects in the past, Pete felt this new medium was a perfect way to continue their collaboration in 2021. “The video was completed over the course of five late night hangouts in the hot tub with my wife Stephanie using dry erase markers,” he explains. “We love to spend time with each other to talk about work, our four kids, life goals, all while doodling on our dry erase board. It's quite fun actually. We think we are insane and this keeps us sane.”
Pete drew his inspiration from the music itself, which drove his design, along with psychedelic concert posters of the 60's, and music icons. “We've done quite a number of these now and feel we are onto something,” he adds. “We play our music, and the markers just seem to tell a story based on what we are listening to.”
“Kevin is like a brother where we complete each other’s thoughts on direction, and he is always one to push creations further with his feedback,” Herzog notes about Browning’s creative directive and feedback during the production. “It's usually what I've been thinking but haven't applied it yet. We both geek out on our projects just to entertain ourselves, even if some of the fans don't quite get it. He is a marketing wizard.”
Reflecting on the rather eccentric choice of 2D animation done with drawings on a dry erase board while in a hot tub, Pete, concludes, “This was just a passion project from pure expression, and is therapy from our day jobs. Between my wife's job as a neonatal night nurse, or me working 60-80+ hour weeks with Flight School, the challenge is to decompress with new creative outlets in this wild life. Using dry erase markers as our media comes with its own complexities, especially while working in the hot tub, but we're not your ordinary artists. It's almost as much performance art as it is cel animation.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.