Foxtrot Uniform
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Foxtrot Uniform

Fort Worth, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Fort Worth, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"For the Cool Season"

Foxtrot Uniform, 'Huj! Huj! Hajrah!'

There's just something ever so slightly off about Fort Worth's Foxtrot Uniform -- and I mean that as a compliment. The core duo -- Kelly Test and Kenny Uptain (Robbie Saunders recently came aboard to beef up live gigs and future albums) -- allows itself to ramble freely across any number of genres on its pleasing debut effort, whether it's the vintage shuffle of She Ain't Got a Care Now or the runaway freight train opener Getting to You. Echoes of acts like the Black Keys or even fellow locals Oil Boom are evident throughout, but Foxtrot Uniform's willingness to stir together some unexpected sounds give Hajrah! a flavor all its own. -

"Local Music Connection"

Foxtrot Uniform is a duo that aims to be a band. The Fort Worth-based entity is namely Kenny Uptain and Kelly Test, but the expansion has already begun. Dallas’ Robbie Saunders of Tweed EQ has joined the Foxtrot Uniform line-up to fill in during the live shows and future studio recordings. Think of Foxtrot Uniform as you would Steely Dan, says Uptain. Yes, it’s mainly two guys, but there are more musicians behind them. However, Uptain and Test are the sole musicians on the Foxtrot debut full-length album, the just-released Huj! Huj! Hajrah! The record is a gauzy and rhythmic mix of everything from jazz to blues, R&B to rock. It’s one of those discs that grows, seeps and unfurls with each listen.

Uptain, 27, lives in Fort Worth. Test, who is also a member of Dallas’ Polyphonic Spree, calls East Dallas home. Foxtrot, Uptain tells me, was the product of a three-piece band dubbed 3 Rivers Alice that also featured their buddy, bassist Royce Tompkins. But Tompkins called it quits in the spring of 2011, leaving Uptain and Test as a duo. The Foxtrot Uniform name was born last fall; an EP was released in December. Foxtrot plays Deep Ellum Market October 20 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. That gig is just Uptain and Saunders performing acoustically. Test performs with the Polyphonic Spree October 27 at the opening of the Klyde Warren Park. Here’s my email exchange with Uptain.

There is a loose, psychedelic melange of rock, blues, R&B and country all over Huj! Huj! Hajrah! but especially on “Truth,” “Honey Child,” “Long Fall Down” and “Bad Seed.” How did you guys arrive at this sound, and what about it defines Foxtrot Uniform?

Kelly and myself have spent most of our entire youth playing in country bands, with a few rock bands sprinkled in. Both of us had fathers who were very big into old jazz, blues, R&B and rock paving a path for us early on to mix several different genres in the writing process. The sound we are involved in creating is really just us imitating all the genres we grew up loving, and continue to love to this day. I’m not sure that anything is really defining, as everything we are doing has been done before. I think the edgy lyrics, and vocals do somehow set us apart.

Tell me about the year-long evolution of Foxtrot Uniform. There are only two of you on the CD, but you just added Robbie Saunders of Dallas’ Tweed EQ as a member. Are there plans to further expand the band’s personnel?

We have always wanted to be more of a “fuller” sounding band so we would come up with creative ways to fill the bass void with effects, bass amplifiers, and always bringing our own to sub to shows. The idea was just to add one more member that could play pretty much any instrument needed at any given time. While there are guys like that our there, most are already taking and having great pay days. So then the idea was to add on as we were able. I was aware of Robbie and knew that he dug the type of music we did, and I eventually reached out for him to come jam. As I said earlier, the idea is to eventually become a 5 piece at this point.

Foxtrot Uniform is a young band. How are you and Kelly finding the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene’s reception to the Foxtrot Uniform sound, concert performances and the debut CD?

The reception has been awesome in the Metroplex, especially since we have both been doing this for 10-plus years. Nothing has really changed other than that we just started recording everything on our own. The crowds change from show to show probably because we play around the area so much, but people are really enjoying the live performance and record from all we are gathering.

Where do you see Foxtrot Uniform going from here, especially since you have produced a full-length album of original material pretty quickly and are performing frequently to get the band established?

We’re working out setting up a few national tours to promote this new CD, and we are four rough drafts into our new CD which will be finished by this time next year. We have no plans to ever quit, get day jobs, or ever limit ourselves on any possibilities. So the sky’s the limit.

If you could choose one band (or solo artist) to open a show for, who would it be and why?
My Morning Jacket, hands down. The reason being they are the best live band I’ve ever seen, and I would just love to be in front of their crowd. - Dallas Morning News

"Foxtrot Uniform-Little Annie"

There are many musical acts that could have come from anywhere, and others owning a unique flavor acquired from eclectic regional influences, be they musical or otherwise. The elemental worship that radiates from the music of Phil Elverum couldn’t have come from anywhere but Olympia. Where else would Dr. Dre’s west coast concoction of laid back, funk inspired hooks and violent wordplay have been possible but Compton? Can you imagine the dreamy, diaphanous grace of Sigur Ros emerging from Norman, OK?

The best, most authentic creative work comes from artists–not bound by–but carved from the various elements of their regional culture, and the superior artists are those able manipulate their influences into a unique, singular, creation. The raw, dusty blues-rock of the Fort Worth duo, Foxtrot Uniform, is one such creative force. As if marinated in Lone Star and brainwashed from birth by Rocky Erickson, their songs hit with the immediacy of that first, blistering blast of sound on a hot night in a crowded Texas dive. Foxtrot Uniform is modern Texas blues that picks up the psychedelic pieces of the 13th Floor Elevators, the political sensibility of Willie, the blues chops of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the balls of hometown heros The Toadies. But the band buries them–not in the way you bury something to hide it–but in the way you lay a foundation under that which you build. There is a difference between owning your influences and being owned by them, and whether by design or by inevitable genius Foxtrot Uniform stand free, owned by no one. However, there is still no denying that the duo belong to Texas, though in a strictly paternal, elastic way. - The Majestic Show

"Killer or Filler?"

Foxtrot Uniform’s Huj! Huj! Hajrah!

The alt-bluesy, country-psyching, classic-rocking Foxtrot Uniform has just released its first album, Huj! Huj! Hajrah!, after months of can-do and do-it-yourselfing in drummer Kelly Test’s Dallas abode.

Test and his only other bandmate, guitarist and singer-songwriter (and Fort Worthian) Kenny Uptain, deliver a stunner, an eclectic box of gems in which the band’s knack for down-home blues is reconciled with its predilections for the experimental and downright unexpected.

The boys’ signature feat on Huj! Huj! Hajrah! –– and also perhaps a downside to the 40-minute album –– is the whirlwind pace. Uptain and Test (who also tours with Cooder Graw and The Polyphonic Spree) have an almost preternatural sense of timing. Most of the songs swagger around just long enough before casually exiting stage right.

Others, like the dirge “Edge of the World,” come to an all-too-abrupt end, just as Test’s rumble and Uptain’s soulfulness hit full stride. If any song on the album is poised for commercial success, it’s “Edge of the World,” also arguably the track that best embodies Foxtrot’s strengths: lots of grit, soul, and melody. But in what must have been a calculated move of compositional finesse, the song is buried about halfway through the album.

No matter. Huj! Huj! Hajrah! packs a mighty punch from the get-go. After a short arena-rock instrumental intro that gives these guys-next-door a distinctly rockstar-ish gleam, the first proper track explodes from the speakers. Fueled by Uptain’s throaty, Marlboro-ravaged voice, “Getting to You” is a harmonious blend of the band’s soul and its effervescent, almost honkytonking musical affinities, providing a nice introduction to the band. The lyrical conceits –– addiction, parking-lot hand jobs, nosebleeds –– also entreat the listener to adjust his or her perspective accordingly. This ain’t your father’s blues.

“She Ain’t Got a Care Now,” another of the album’s more familiar-sounding songs, once again is carried by the full force of Uptain’s roar. Not to belabor the point, but if anything sets Foxtrot apart, it’s Uptain’s freakishly sumptuous voice. Few vocalists can achieve the visceral, guttural maturity of this twentysomething frontman.

Not all of the tracks on Huj! Huj! Hajrah! stick to the field-tested Foxtrot script. “Truth” is where the band scratches its inevitable itch to get weird. Nearly a cappella and at just over a minute, the song comes on and fades out in the same smoky exhale before immediately transitioning to “Edge of the World,” which then leads to another crowd-pleaser, “Honey Child.” From there, some of Foxtrot’s more emotive offerings — ones that are borderline poppy, like “Lily White Limp” — arrive in quick succession.

By the time Huj! Huj! Hajrah! concludes, Foxtrot Uniform’s style rings at once more alien and more homegrown than anything you’ve probably heard before. –– Matthew McGowan - FW Weekly

"F.U. Real News"

Breaking news! Burning Hotels frontman Chance Morgan had a 12-inch Spicy Italian ® at Subway the other day with no onions! Hanna Barbarians frontman Blake Parish got a flat tire! Kevin Aldridge is a little sleepy! This, my friends, is the kind of hard-hitting journalism you’ve come to expect and savor from your faithful, crotchety, knuckle-dragging Fort Worth-music columnist. But can you blame me? I would think that readers dig knowing every little thing about Fort Worth’s biggest rockstars. Even, y’know, the smaaalll details. But while I was out stalking Chance, Blake, and Kevin, one of the coolest, most original-sounding bands in North Texas recorded and will soon release one of the grooviest, most delicious slabs of good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll ever heard in these here parts. Huj! Huj! Hajrah! marks Foxtrot Uniform’s arrival as a force in not only North Texas but, hell, the universe. “We did not just want to record 12 or so songs and call it a finished album,” said frontman/guitarist/vocalist Kenny Uptain. “We wanted a journey: collective movements that could all be pieced together like our favorite albums,” including Pink Floyd’s Meddle and My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves. Uptain and the only other member of Foxtrot, drummer/backup-vocalist Kelly Test, began recording their “collective movements” last September, laying down tracks on Test’s computer in his Dallas living room. The duo released five songs in December as an EP, Hey, Mighty Mighty. In addition to playing shows, Foxtrot continued writing and recording, “placing segues throughout with our limited instrumentation and recording experience,” Uptain said. He and Test whittled down about 30 songs to the current 14, “the best possible listening journey we could piece together with the material we had,” Uptain said. Though Test is relatively new to recording technology, he mixed and mastered the final product. “Not only was it great money-wise,” Uptain said, “but I believe [Test] did a stellar job.” Huj! Huj! Hajrah! was finished just a couple of weeks ago. For you local-music fans, imagine if Quaker City Night Hawks and Oil Boom had a baby. For everyone else, Huj! Huj! Hajrah! is an opus of gritty, chunky guitar, snappy drums, and sweet, soulful vocals and lyrics. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, but it’s all pure Foxtrot. “Edge of the World” sways and shimmers, a real trad-blues-influenced neo-doo-wop singalong. On the flip side, “Lil’ Annie” growls and churns like a ’70s stoner-funk dirge, and on the Hendrix-ian “Honey Child,” Uptain’s bone-crushing guitar has a distant, echoing quality (trés ’60s) and Test’s drums skid, stop, and triple-roll all over the place to achieve a pretty damn good approximation of Mitch Mitchell. Full of non-gratuitous bells and whistles, Huj! Huj! Hajrah! sounds like the handiwork of more than just two dudes. Foxtrot, Uptain said, is actually considering expanding into a trio or quintet to “not only recreate the songs we write live but also enhance our possibilities both creatively and artistically in future endeavors.” But the band’s main focus is to build a Texas following and “get the CD out to all who will listen,” Uptain said. A tour is in the works. Foxtrot Uniform will celebrate the album’s release this Thursday at The Basement Bar in the Stockyards (105 W. Exchange Ave., 817-624-0050) with indie-blues headliners Oil Boom and space-rocking openers Secret Ghost Champion. The best part? No cover. - FW Weekly

"Bravo, Foxtrot Uniform"

About every other week or so, Fort Worth rocker Kenny Uptain used to get fired from his first group, a country project called the Mike Mancy Band. He knows it happened on at least three occasions beginning not long after he joined the group in 2005 as a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who already knew his way around barroom gigs.

Today you might know Uptain and his best friend, another former Mancy bandmate, drummer Kelly Test, as Foxtrot Uniform, possibly one of the most auspicious bands to come out of the Fort in the past year. Anyone who frequents local watering holes and venues has probably seen these two onstage –– they play a ton of gigs. The guys are also busy putting the finishing touches on their debut album, set to drop in about a month.

The small rock band, now about six months old, was forged by this rocky on-and-off-again relationship between Uptain and his then-Mancy bandmates, who would usually kick him out for drunken shenanigans but only to ask him back a few months later, repeating the cycle.

Finally, several years ago, Mancy essentially fired the rest of the band, leaving Uptain, Test, and Mancy bassist Royce Tompkins to put their own project together. 3 Rivers Alice lasted until about six months ago, when Tompkins picked up a nine-to-five, leaving Uptain and Test on their own. Foxtrot Uniform is military slang for “fuck you.”

But Uptain and Test say they’ve emerged sturdier than ever as a core of ambitious jam-banders who love rock but sometimes lean toward country. Their sound depends largely on whether you’re hearing them in person or via recording. Onstage, Foxtrot’s music is a swampy kind of throwback rock, a gruff and raw go at the blues, led by Uptain’s smoky yet smooth voice. From your earphones, the band’s music sounds much more textured. Drummer Test also plays the keys, and Uptain dabbles on the bass, a pair of instruments you’ll rarely see the duo behind onstage.

In a recent conversation at the Woodshed Smokehouse, a regular F.U. spot, Uptain said he sometimes laments that they’re incapable of recreating live what they recorded in the studio, but his bandmate shrugged it off. “I think they’re two different monsters,” Test said. “If you’re recording stuff, you’ve got to record it the best you can, even if you feel like you need an extra piano part or any of that shimmery shit on the recording. Then when you’re playing it live, you’ll just have to play it differently. I don’t beat myself up about that.”

Foxtrot’s pared-down strum-and-drum formula does have its advantages. For one, it streamlines the collaborative process.

Case in point: Foxtrot Uniform has never had a rehearsal. Uptain and Test said they just don’t need to practice outside of their frequent gigs. Instead, Uptain conjures an impromptu set of lyrics, a melody, and a few guitar riffs on the fly. He’ll record it on his phone and pocket it for later. Then, without warning at a later show, he’ll insert the song into a set. Test will improvise and follow along. “What’s cool about being a two-piece,” Uptain said, “is that I can come up with any song I want to, and Kelly — as long as he’s not really heard it but kind of heard me do it for a second — he’ll be right on with me. I wrote a song yesterday, and we played it tonight.”

Uptain wears a mangy dark blond beard and chain-smokes Marlboros, giving him a roughshod exterior that betrays the family man within. He’s a 26-year-old father who, after staying out late playing gigs, wakes up every day at dawn to care for his three children ranging in age from seven months to seven years, while his wife heads downtown to work for an energy company.

Then, just about every night, the rocker heads out with his guitar, beating the pavement along a now-familiar local circuit of gig spots, either solo or, more often, alongside Test, his best friend who started his own career 20 years ago as a percussionist for a young Waco native named Pat Green. Test is perhaps one of the most accomplished local musicians you’ve never heard of, and the clean-cut 37-year-old Fort Worth native prefers it that way.

He has an array of side projects to keep up with. He recently reunited with West Texas loud-country pioneers Cooder Graw, and he’s preparing for a West Coast tour with The Polyphonic Spree, the famous, sprawling orchestral pop-rock group from Dallas.

But despite Test’s numerous side projects, he and Uptain believe they’re onto something long-lasting with F.U., which has already gained more buzz and following than 3 Rivers Alice did during a couple years of local performances.

About a month ago at a Foxtrot show not far from West 7th Street, Linc Campbell, lead guitarist for Fort Worth countrified rockers Badcreek, leaned forward in his chair and gestured toward Uptain onstage. “God, his voice is amazing,” he hollered above the music.

Campbell’s not alone in his appraisal of Foxtrot’s talent. Many local musicians have approached Uptain and Test in search of collaboration, which usually means they either want to poach them or join them.

And therein lies a nagging dilemma: To expand or not to?

“The two-piece thing scares the shit out of me, because I’ve got to keep busy the whole time,” Uptain said at the Woodshed, fresh from a four-hour set. “I can’t lay back. I can’t just chill out. We’ve got to keep the music pushing, which is fine if you’ve only got an hour show. … Nights like tonight are such a beating. It’s so hard on us.”

Uptain and Test have toyed with the idea of adding a bassist, but they have yet to find the right fit. Plus, they’re just not sure. These two, after all, have been playing together for years and don’t want to disrupt the groove they’ve just recently rediscovered. - FW Weekly

"Country Boys Turned Rock?"

Some people do music, not for the love, but the paycheck. Yes as hard as it may be to believe there is actually a living to be made in "Texas Country" music. A pretty damn good one at that. As local rock bands know, if you book a gig on any given night you are going to split the money with 3 or 4 other bands even if the crowd was your's to begin with. "That's just how things go with music," says 3 Rivers Alice front man Kenny Uptain. "A lot more time, energy, and money go into playing rock music. The big checks come from setting up a guarantee (in country venues). The bottom line, it seems is that country fans are willing to pay a lot more to see a lot less." Uptain, says that is not at all a rip on country music, but rather a shot at the shows being 1 to 2 bands tops, cost 3 times as much and not allowing rock anywhere near. Drummer Kelly b. Test had this to say, "When we first started doing "Texas Country" there was a future to be seen in it. It was like the old school rock movements of the 60's. Then it turned into nowadays Nashville. Something it was completely against in the beginning." While the band still loves all of their fellow musicians that they met and played with during that time, they are not going to miss the overall objective of making good music. "That's something we're doing now more than ever, making good music." Bassist Royce Tompkins adds. As hard as it may be to go from full time musician to the 9 to 5 routine just to do rock music for nothing in the evenings it's still worth it to these boys. So if you're ever in the DFW area and planning on going to see a Kevin Fowler show; take a look in the paper to see if 3 Rivers Alice is around instead, you will not be disappointed. - The Democrat


Cisco (LP, Sept. 2, 2014)

Huj! Huj! Hajrah! (LP, Oct. 2012)

Hey! Mighty! Mighty! (EP, Dec. 2011)



The term Foxtrot Uniform sounds more applicable to military-speak than music-making, but the Texas band using that moniker deliver far more than license-plate lingo on their new release, Cisco (Sept. 2, 2014). Their meld of roots rock, psychedelic blues and Americana has earned critical and fan raves in their home base of Dallas and Fort Worth, where Fort Worth Weekly ranked their 2012 debut album, Huj! Huj! Hajrah!, at No. 3 on its year-end top 10 list.

With Cisco, the core trio of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Kenny Uptain, drummer/harmony vocalist Kelly Test and keyboardist/vocalist Katie Robertson are ready to conquer new territories — including several Test knows from his years with the Polyphonic Spree, Pat Green, 1100 Springs and other artists.

After studying percussion performance at the University of North Texas in Denton, Test became a founding member of country-rocker Bleu Edmondson’s band, then joined Cooder Graw, followed by the Mike Mancy Band. That’s where he met Uptain, originally from Weatherford, Texas. The pair eventually joined forces with a third player to form 3 Rivers Alice, and when that player left, they started Foxtrot Uniform. Test still plays vibes, tubular bells, timpani and other percussion with the Polyphonic Spree, with whom he performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 2013.

Uptain moved to Fort Worth at 17 to pursue music full time after gigging in several hometown bands. After he and Test launched Foxtrot Uniform in late 2011, they started performing a bit, then recording. Uptain then began pounding the pavement, stocked with an EP version of Huj! Huj! Hajrah!.

“I started going out every night of the week to meet as many folks as I could,” Uptain says. He played open mics and dreamed of expanding the lineup, then found Fort Worth native Robertson, who’s been a choir soloist since childhood and playing piano just about as long. A stint as a lounge singer with a comedy troupe’s pianist helped hone her stage presence as she built a repertoire that includes everything from jazz to indie rock to her current side gig in a Neil Young cover band.

When the tracks on Cisco — including “Honey Bee,” “Grab My Gun” and “Never Get Out of California” — catch on, the bandmates might find themselves just a little to busy for side gigs, especially with a fall tour in the works. But that’s OK; they’re ready to march forward with a musical code that’s all their own.

Band Members