Over the years we’ve made several attempts at creating a stable band that worked well together with a shared vision, but ultimately they all failed due to things like personal differences and drugs. Underwing was born as a last attempt to spread our music out there and hopefully make an honest living by doing what intuitively felt like the only possible way to live our lives.
Underwing in the beginning..
It was 2016, on the southern coast of Norway in Arendal, a small town with roughly 40.000 inhabitants, nationally known for its attitude towards drugs and fighting, music also thrived. The local scene has been filled with a lot of talent across several genres throughout the years, although metal and alternative rock has always been favored. This gave us hope when we knew our music would be on the heavier side of the spectrum. The hype was real when the first hints of a new, exciting local band emerged.
Photo: Mona Hauglid
”I’ve always felt like people didn’t understand me.That might be because I’ve had a hard time understanding people in general. Most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place like a semi-nomadic lifestyle as I was raised by my mother, alone, for the most part. I’ve never resented my father for not being there because he’s so much like me, and I knew it was for the best. Looking back at it I think this is where I’ve gained a lot of feminine aspects that I so deeply cherish and try to convey into music.
If the occult teachings have taught me anything, it’s that there’s always a lesson to be learned from trauma or hardship. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, so when the peace was interrupted at home by whatever trouble came with alcohol I often turned to music. Preferably Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Deep Purple. I remember thinking that Ozzy Osbourne was more of a father to me than my biological one, how silly is that? My formative years as a child were filled with so much love, but there was always that duality, a duality I came to see as a never-ending well where creative juices may be drained from.
Moving on to 8th grade, where the mandatory music lessons were introduced, the guitar made itself known to me like a temptress flirting under the full moon. A few months later my mother got me my very own acoustic guitar, and I fell in love with songwriting. I didn’t bother to learn others’ music, I only wanted to make unique original songs by merging my own poetry with music. My mother was always so supportive of me doing music, and I’ll always love her for that.
The following years I tried to make bands and projects, and although I learned a lot it didn’t fulfill my vision. Along came drugs. Within its grasp, my most destructive yet constructive moments found place. This would be my life for the next decade; ten years filled with musical ambition and all the drugs available. In retrospect, the psychedelic kind gave me back what the needle took away.
But the music was always present. At the time, a trip-rock band called Klepp was my devotion. Underwing’s drummer Joachim was also in this band. After a few years, that devotion came to pass. The love of my life also came along, helping me in every aspect of my life.
I found myself wanting to give up on a career in music, there, in our tiny smoke-filled apartement in Arendal in 2016, amid old furniture and existentialism. I came to the conclusion that this lifelong dream of mine deserved one final try. I decided to form a new band, with a new mindset and work ethic. As I knew the thematics, I felt that Underwing was a fitting name, taken from the Underwing moth and all the metaphors that came along with it. I gave it five years, if it didn’t feel like it was gonna work out, I’d quit. I’d probably travel the world as a busking artist living in a van, with my soulmate and my cat. Yet here I am.’‘ – Enyeto Kotori, vocals.
Photo: Bjørg Fossli
Two journeys collide..
“Let’s flash back to the summer of 2015. I was 19 years old, and the band I was in at the time, Valerie, an 80s inspired glam rock band with zebra spandex and a hair-do to match, had just released our sophomore album. The release gig was all right, some people attended and we felt like we had created quite the local buzz. I was finally having hopes about becoming a rock star, touring the world and play with other cool artists within our genre. We had already opened up for W.A.S.P guitar-icon Chris Holmes, TNT and played a pretty big festival in our local area, Hovefestivalen. It was just a matter of time, right?
..Unfortunately, Valerie started to break up already few days after that release show. The other members had different priorities and felt like they had given it their all. I, on the other hand, knew that this was just the beginning. I had watched too many documentaries, read too many biographies about the rockstar life and it’s different individuals to simply give up now. Something that I noticed in all those movies and books, was that despite individual differences, the process seemed to be very similar for all the rock stars.
Playing music in front of people, traveling with my friends to foreign destinations, seeing people have e genuine experience based on something that we’ve made, is something that I’ve dreamt about since I was a child. And it all started with my uncle’s record collection that was heavily revolved around the likes of Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley. After all, he’s the king, you know?
Needless to say, I was devastated by the sudden breakup of our band, and I spiraled into a vortex filled with anxiety and depression. I had never imagined myself doing anything else, and suddenly there I was, filled with uncertainty about what my future had in store for me..if anything at all. Finding people playing an instrument was easy, but finding people who would dedicated their life to this purpose is somehow..a little bit harder.
That same summer, some friends of mine from another local band played the main stage of Canal Street, a festival located in the heart of our hometown, Arendal. Their name was Klepp, and their unique musical style was something that had amazed me since I first discovered them back in 2013. Their bassist/vocalist, Enyeto Kotori had been a long time friend of mine..and if I can remember correctly, he was the first person who bought booze for me when I wasn’t old enough to do so myself – a friend you could count on, you know 😉
Like Valerie, Klepp had built quite the reputation around town – and even nationally.
I was shocked when I heard about Klepp suddenly breaking up following that very important show for them.
During that late fall of 2015 / beginning of 2016, I spoke a lot to Enyeto about the struggles with my mental health and the feeling of being stuck with nowhere to go. He told me about this project he was planning named Underwing, including the drummer from Klepp. He wanted me to join, but I didn’t really consider it properly because at this point I was filled to the brim with anxiety and didnt really want to leave the house. However, one snowy February day I decided to muster up the courage and drag my guitar out for a little walk. A walk that ended at Munkehaugen, which has been the go-to building for band related activities for many decades in Arendal. I was greeted with three other equally skeptical, yet at the same time hopeful faces, and we started jamming..and we haven’t really stopped since..” – Magnus Christiansen, guitars
Photo: Bjørg Fossli
With an emphasis on mental health, personal struggles, drugs and spirituality, the first Underwing songs; Reaper and Paragon were written. After several auditions for the right musicians, the line-up was completed and demos were recorded.
Although initially only for promotional purposes, these demos ended up as our debut EP Kaela Upsweep, thanks to our drummer Joachim’s hobby being a producer.
Now that we had all the members, Joachim, Magnus, Thomas and Enyeto, the journey could begin.
The launch of our debut-EP Kaela Upsweep brought us deeper into the spiral of creativity after receiving positive feedback from both the local and international scene. Before we knew it, we were on stage performing our music all around the southern coast, winning talent competitions and so on, slowly molding in to an ambitious bunch.
Coming from different upbringings we saw it important to portray the diversity in our music as well as in lyrics, including everything from classic-rock acts, old school punk, blues and extreme metal. As a lyricist, Enyeto always incorporates his own psyche and struggles, making it an authentic experience so that the listener might relate on a deeper level. Being a fan of the occult and alchemic sides of self mastery, there’s always room for self-analysis on a subjective and personal level. By writing this way one is free to interpret the songs, albeit cryptic and metaphorical, anyway one sees fit.
Photo: Christoffer Olsen
Our second release Spirals, was (despite contrary belief) actually mostly written in the same era as Kaela Upsweep, our debut, but not recorded and released more than two years later. Why? You might ask. Concerts, rehearsals, life in general, personal struggles, procrastination and lack of optimization would be some key factors. When Spirals finally was released, this time on vinyl, the band saw a major increase in both local and international press hailing us as the progressive grunge-rockers we are. We even took in a fifth member under our wing; Jesper, on bass.
This resulted in our most active year, playing a lot of concerts and planning our week a bit smarter than we used to, adding “office days” and “recording day” to perfect the lesser aspects of our b(r)and. We like to envision ourselves as caterpillars slowly going through metamorphosis and, I kid you not, we’ve not even reached the pupa stage yet. While we all have our eyes set on the butterfly, we know there’s a ton of work to be done.
This is where YOU come in.
We wouldn’t be doing this for so long without your endless support and positive vibrations. Accepting us as the flawed gang of hopeful individuals we are, trying to make something transparent and honest for ourselves to share with the world, while not really knowing the path beforehand. You’re all helping us carve that very path as we go.. Together.
If you would like to hear the latest milestone of our journey, click here to listen to our most recent release Spirals!
Thank you for being a listener, and for making it all matter.