Influenced by artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Grateful Dead, Tupac and Human League, The Uproot are Kansas City's go-to original funk rock band. We caught up with the band as they celebrate the release of their debut album, Moving in Color. Enjoy!
Describe your music for new listeners. Who are your influences?
We consider ourselves a funk rock band, but as we evolve and write more music, we find ourselves exploring genres a bit outside of our comfort zone. We take great pride in our ability to add improvisation into our live sets, write songs as a group, and incorporate a wide range of influences from each band member. This helps give us a unique and original sound.
Our most common comparison is with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of our favorite bands. Our influences range from "jam" bands (Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic), hip hop (Tupac, Beastie Boys, Wu Tang Clan), 90s grunge/nu metal bands (311, Soundgarden, Nirvana), and 80s synth pop (Human League, Depeche Mode) just to name a few.
Talk about the recording of your new album, Moving in Color. What did you learn that you’ll take to future projects?
We learned a lot about patience. Making an album takes a lot of hard work and it takes time. The full process includes scheduling, tracking, mixing, mastering, graphic design, replication, distribution, and promotion. And after going through that process, we have learned that creativity should never be rushed or forced. Often times, the best material will not be something that we sat there and drilled on for hours, but rather ideas that come to us periodically during times of inspiration. Also, in the studio we had a lot of time to explore and gain new perspectives on the songs by incorporating new vocal harmonies, as well as new keyboard and auxiliary percussion parts that the four of us could not have played live. We liked the new parts so much that we recently brought on a fifth band member (Tim Kohl) to recreate those sounds and more going forward.
How does songwriting work in The Uproot?
When we first started years ago as a trio (without vocals), all of our songs came from jamming. One person would come up with a riff then we'd start playing around with that riff until we came up with some changes and alternate parts. Once we had the changes down, we would develop an arrangement and the shell of the song was born.
Currently, Ham, T Switz, or I will write a riff or an entire song on our own, record it with our phones, then send it to the band. Then we will listen to it individually to come up with new guitar or bass parts on our own before meeting together as a band and coming up with a final arrangement. Once this is done, we will make a simple recording of the arrangement on our phones and send it to T Switz so he can write lyrics over it.
What inspires you the most about music in Kansas City?
We are inspired by the fact that Kansas City was known as "The Vegas of the Plains" during the Prohibition era, which allowed the jazz scene to thrive here. Music is one thing that makes this city great. There are great musical acts to see nearly every single night in this city and its surrounding areas. Anyone who is up past 3AM on friday/saturday night should attend the jam sessions at Mutual Musicians Foundation. It is a truly electrifying experience to witness these incredibly talented musicians improvise, you can definitely feel the authenticity and passion in their music.