Umphrey’s McGee Mantis Countdown to Release

Mantis Deluxe Boxes

As the rest of the world anxiously counts down to the swearing in of a new President and the promise that brings, a small percentage of the world is also watching the countdown clock to Midnight tonight for the release of Umphrey’s McGee’s new album Mantis— at least the digital version available for download to everyone who pre-ordered it. The download was offered to all who pre-ordered so that even if the US Mail failed to deliver the physical orders, everyone could listen to it tomorrow in some fashion.

The pre-order for Mantis kicked off on October 27th and ran until December 6th at Midnight and– based on the amount of orders received– 9 “Levels” of exclusive bonus content would be made available to everyone who pre-ordered. This is in addition to the bonus material that will be made available using the CD as a key after the release to everyone who buys one!

The pre-order came in two flavors– a Deluxe Boxset and a regular CD order. Both flavors would have access to the pre-order bonus material, but the Deluxe Boxset– which was limited to 500 initially, and expanded to 1000 when the first 500 sold out quickly– was going to include an audiophile 180g pressing of Mantis and a DVD of video content including the 10-year documentary “UM10” the band put together for their NYE 2008 shows, plus some other goodies from their online store and some other things they picked all housed in a box the band signed. The CD was $20, but the Deluxe Box was $50. Frankly, the box is the better deal if only because of the vinyl and the DVD, but the “personal” stuff the band threw in would really make this a collector’s dream. Of course, there were people bemoaning the “devaluation” of their copies with the additional 500. It’s still very rare, so it will be valuable either way, if that is the concern. Whatever, I’m opening mine and playing the record.

From a logistics standpoint getting these packages to everyone who ordered was a feat in itself. The band and their assistance would have had to work backwards from the release date (tomorrow) and take in to consideration where in the world these packages had to go. Adding to that was the fact that today is a government holiday in the US, so no deliveries would happen today.

Mantis Order Shipping

Of course, this caused some folks to get their orders early– which was a source of much consternation on the umphreaks board, but allowed us to hear what goodies were in the boxes! Based on the “I JUST GOT MY MANTIS IN THE MAIL!!!!!” thread on the board (aka “The Bort”) people are getting

  • Mantis CD
  • guitar picks from the band
  • a guitar string that was used at a show from last year that has a tag with the date played.
  • a recipe from a member of the band: so far we’ve seen a Ryan Stasik baked brie, and a smoked rib from Andy Farag. Both sound fantastic, frankly.
  • a “Mantis” poster (folded, sadly– I’ll have to see if I can order a rolled one)
  • “UM10” DVD
  • A letter signed by the band.
  • A photocopy of a set list construction “worksheet.” This is generally handwritten and shows how the band goes through working on their setlists complete with crossing out songs.
  • The 180g vinyl version of Mantis.
  • Two “Mantis” postcards.
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • One set of “Mantis” iPod skins for Nano or Classic (no iPhone or Touch, unfortunately).

Talk about a labor of love! Keep in mind there is also all of the pre-order bonus material and whatever they unlock beyond that!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gesture this big from a band to its fans. I’ve only been a fan of UM in the last year, and there are a lot of reasons that I like what this band is up to– a lot of it has to do with their approach to their music and the fact that they are as much fans of music as they are musicians. The fact that they have a very good grip on using their fanbase and the Internet as a way to promote what they’re doing and making the extra effort to make something like an album release special, is pretty great, too. Many bands could take a page from this band’s playbook. Of course it helps to have a rabid fanbase that would support this kind of effort.

Bort member Tim Hara had provided some great pictures of the band signing the Deluxe Boxes to the board. He very graciously allowed me to re-post the pictures here.

Umphrey's McGee Signing Mantis Deluxe Boxes

Umphrey's McGee Signs the Mantis Deluxe Boxes

Umphrey's McGee Signs the Mantis Deluxe Boxes

The band also is doing an eBay auction to benefit their favorite charity UStorm. The cover art was designed by Mark Blanchette who surprisingly creates his montage photographs the old school dodge and burn method. There is a very informative posting on the band’s blog here. As a result he is able to control the serialization of his work to ten copies. The eBay auction is for one of those 10 prints framed along with a sheet with the band’s autographs.

I was one of the lucky few who got in on the second 500 Deluxe sets, so I’m anxiously awaiting the deliver of it– to eat the spoils of victory (the Tootsie Rolls) while dropping the needle on the vinyl version of Mantis!

Click Here to view other pictures Tim Hara took of the signing. Thanks Tim!

Stay tuned for “Sexy Unboxing Pictures” of my boxset to come.

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