Kenny Uptain is a talented songwriter from Fort Worth who’s been floating around the local scene for a while. Probably best known as the front man for the group, Foxtrot Uniform, he can currently be found in residency every Sunday on the rooftop at Live Oak Music Hall along with Quaker City Night Hawks’ Sam Anderson, and with his new neo-folk project, Chucho. Kenny took the time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions for us that we were all dying to know the answers to (you know, the ones we ask everyone).
Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?
KU: I first got into music when a kid brought a guitar to speech class when I was 15. I didn’t know how to play it, but it sounded kickass. I saved up for a Squire guitar and a little crate amp and spent countless hours in the bedroom playing blues leads. When I was 16, I got an offer to play lead guitar in the Kurt South Band all around the Fort Worth area. I haven’t left since.
Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
KU: I take words very serious. I don’t need big words nor do I need the premise of the song to be serious, but I hate cheesy lines or lines that don’t fit perfectly in the allotted space. I wouldn’t know how to tell people about it to make them interested in listening. I just know I take it more serious that anything else I do, which might not be saying much.
Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?
KU: Willie, John Prine, Roger Miller, Townes, Blaze, Doug Sahm, Lefty Frizzell, Ernest Tubb, Waylon, ZZ Top, JJ Cale, Father John Misty. I could go on forever. I really enjoy Willie Nelson for the simple fact that if you dive into his material, your life will be changed, and it will have had nothing to do with the songs you are familiar with. He may be one of the best singer/guitar player combinations of all time. That, and he can write the fuck out of a song.
Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?
KU: Songs make me happy or sad or mad or whatever it is I’m feeling at the time that I write them. After the writing process is done, I tend not to dwell. It was written to get whatever feeling I had at that moment out into the world so I could be done with the feeling. I’m pretty ADD that way. So, to answer, I have no song that stands out a lot to me.
Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
KU: I’d like to open for early 70’s Willie Nelson. Because I wanna get blasted with the guy that was about to knock the whole country game right the fuck out of the park.
Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?
KU: David Matsler, VNE, Jake Paleschic, Jacob Furr, Blue Healer, Father John Misty and a ton of shit that ain’t new.
Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?
KU: Doug Sahm Doug Sahm and his Band
Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?
KU: There seems to be no competition. Between artists, musicians, venues, bars, etc. It’s an all embracing, ever evolving crazy scene that seems to have no one holding it back. I suppose what I like least would be the amount of beards I see. They used to be unique.
Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?
KU: As a band, I love playing Lola’s. When you have the right bill and the sound is on, that place will melt the fucking soles of your shoes to the floor. I love the Live Oak Music Hall for a listening room, and the Chat Room is surprisingly and easily one of the raddest spots I have ever played in the area. These are all for playing. When it comes to seeing a show, I’m a Lola’s dude.
Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?
KU: Holy shit, if DFW only knew. There’s Fort Worth cats like David Matsler, Jake Paleschic, Vincent Neil Emerson, Jacob Furr, Sam Anderson, Ben Hance, Andy Pickett, Nolan Ryan Robertson, and a shit ton of others I’m pissed to be forgetting that do shit I only wish I could do. Such great eclectic talent in Fort Worth. In the DFW scene in general, there’s Daniel Markham, Wesley Geiger, Beau Bedford and all of the dudes that have played with and as the Texas Gentlemen (Leon Bridges’ original backing band, btw). I know I’m forgetting a ton, but I’m proud to know such an eclectic and rad group of artists within an hour drive every which way.
Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
KU: I’d rather people not know…
Much love to Kenny Uptain for taking the time to sit down with us (on his electronic device). Check out Chucho’s EP Monotonic Tailpiece below and catch them live at Lola’s with Keegan McInroe and Jacob Furr on Thursday, Nov 19. Kenny can also currently be found every Sunday on the roof top at the Live Oak from 8-11 with Sam Anderson.