Interview with UNDERWING

Norwegian hard rockers Underwing are on the verge of releasing an EP titled “Kaela Upsweep.” In a new interview for Rocking Charts they tell us about it, but also inspiration, influences and more.

What made you go for the name Underwing?

Magnus: The name Underwing draws inspiration from the endangered “Pink Underwing Moth” based in Australia. I guess the reason that we went for that name in particular is because we are pretty endangered ourselves as a human race if we don’t wake up and decide to do something drastic. If you do a quick google search on “Underwing” you’ll find this caterpillar that has a mask which is kind of formed like a skull – which is its self-defense mechanism. And like the caterpillar – we all need to go through some pretty hard struggles before we can shine through on the other side and become a beautiful version of ourselves – like a butterfly / moth.

Enyeto: We see the caterpillar as a metaphor that describes the feeling of detachment from your self that one experiences as you mature. I saw similarities between my own experiences and the stages of development that this larva goes through. It’s also a metaphor for the subconscious mind, and the fact that if you don’t learn to recognize its patterns and control them, someone else will, and usually not for the better.

How do you usually describe your music?

Enyeto: I tend not to elaborate too much on describing music, as it is like describing colors to a blind man. But as I mumbled my way through a musically descriptive conversation, it was made clear to me that we took the aspects we loved about the music of the 70’s and 90’s, as well as music found in the 1920’s Jazz age, and mashed it together in a very personal way. It features hard as well as soft elements, ballads and intensity, chest voice and belting. Yin and yang describe how the opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, and it’s a fitting description of Underwing as well.

Magnus: I would say it’s a mix between 70’s riffing and 90’s grunge with a few modern twists here and there. We’ve been compared to Tool and Alice in Chains so far, so I guess you could say “progressive”.

Photo by Christoffer Olsen
Photo by Christoffer Olsen

What is your writing process like?

Magnus: It usually starts out with an idea that we either show to each other at practice or upload to Dropbox and then we just add our personal style to it and sort of spice it up with our own individual ideas until it becomes a song. Then we record it a bunch of times at our drummer Joachim’s place, so we can get a feel of it as a “whole package” – and then we do the final recording when everyone is happy about the structure and feel of the song. Everyone is very involved.

Enyeto: The first four songs we started working on, was written on the acoustic guitar accompanied by falsetto vocals, as that is how I like to write. It gives me more room to form the lyrical flow, and mold the actual words before anything gets written down. It is a trial and error process really, and not all the riffs will fit at first. I am also a procrastinator of the finest sort, making the writing process longer on the songs that, for me, are important and personal. Other songs might be spewed out in a matter of days, hours even.

Thomas: I find one of the most exciting aspects of our writing process to be how our different influences converge in different ways, which I think is an important contributing factor in creating the varied soundscapes and compositions you find in this EP.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

Enyeto: Nature, the complexity of thought, spirituality and transmutation, sacred science and history, the mind – body problem, for starters. As far as the musical aspects, it’s conditioned by what I’ve listened to, and liked throughout my life. Be that, what it may.

Magnus: We all have our own individual inspirations when it comes to the music, I used to play in an 80’s rock band for 6 years so I am kind of subconsciously inspired by a lot of guitar-riffs from that era, bands such as Extreme, Ratt, Poison, Guns n Roses – but also a lot of other more mellow stuff. As a band though, I would say we’re inspired by bands such as Tool, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, Clutch etc.

Thomas: Personally, as a guitar player, I am influenced by several players in the blues and rock genres that have tried to expand those genres into new territories, such as Guthrie Govan and David Gilmour. I feel that some of these inspirations can be heard in the guitar solos found on the EP.

What is your favourite piece on the “Kaela Upsweep” EP?

Magnus: My personal favorite would have to be the title track “Kaela Upsweep”, as it captures a lot of raw emotions. Last year I went through a very devastating experience after too much drug use and I struggled through bouts of anxiety, depression and depersonalization. This song sort of grounded me and was therapy for me through the whole experience. Every time we play this live, I cry, it’s just too emotional, but hey that’s okay.

Enyeto: “Kaela Upsweep.” It means a lot to me, depicting a mental image of past relations and how the feminine energy travels to be forgotten, only to return back again with more knowledge for me to engulf in. When one individual ‘wakes up’, it nudges the collective ‘hive mind’ in the right direction. So for me, each time I sing it, it reminds me where to settle my energies.

Thomas: My favourite piece on the EP would have to be “Pay in silver”, due to the unique, nostalgic atmosphere that permeates the song. It has a melancholic, wistful vibe that is counterbalanced by moments of up-beat rhythms and empowering vocals. I am also very pleased with the individual contributions made by the band, as I feel each contribution elevated the song further. It’s really hard to pick a favourite though, because all of the songs on the EP mean a lot to me.

kaela-upsweep-recording-session

What makes “Kaela Upsweep” different?

Enyeto: Honestly, there’s too much focus on differences in today’s society, so I will answer with the similarities you can expect to find on this EP. If you like classic, pop, hard or progressive rock, you will feel the similarities. Personally, I wish I had this EP back when I was 13 years old, because of the lyrical content and the soundscape in general.

Magnus: Tough question, I just feel that these songs are brutally honest about our feelings regarding life-struggles of our own, but at the same time the lyrics are written in a way that most people can relate if you dig deep down within yourselves. We just want ourselves to grow into the best version of ourselves, and hopefully inspire others to feel the same – that’s very obvious if you read the lyrics to for example “Paragon”.

Thomas: In addition to what has been said above, I also think that our individual musical backgrounds help make this EP one that stands out from the norm. Instead of seeing our musical differences as a challenge, we see it as an attribute that enables us to transcend the boundaries set by conventional genres. This, coupled with the fact that we’ve poured our heart and souls into this project, elevates the EP from run-of-the-mill releases. It’s a work characterised by passion.

What should music lovers expect from “Kaela Upsweep”?

Enyeto: I usually say ‘expect nothing, and you will always be positively surprised’. But I confidently say, when it comes to this EP, expect an honest mix of emotions layered with collaborating genres, drizzled with familiarity for the ears of the music-loving individual.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

Magnus: I for myself want people to instantly recognize that this is honest and real stuff. I want them to reflect on their own life, and also to express whatever emotions they are having. It’s okay to cry, laugh, get furious etc. when you’re at an Underwing concert. Just be yourselves!

Enyeto: The right emotions for the process they go through, in order to maybe guide or accompany them, give them a feeling of security in music and some subtle keys for self-improvement. As I got from the bands I loved growing up.

Thomas: A lot of the songs featured on the EP can be described as melancholic. However, this does not mean that we want to depress the listener. From my personal experience, I have often felt that melancholic music can provide an uplifting experience when you’re in a depressive state of mind. So I guess, all in all, I want the listener to feel good when they hear our music.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

Magnus: I definitely enjoy touring the most, just the feeling of being out on a mission and sensing the good vibes that people have towards you when you’re out and about. Sharing good times with friends and get to know new people are key points here.

Enyeto: We are social beings, so touring is probably my favorite of the two. But again, you can’t have the one without the other.

Thomas: I think there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you stand on stage playing music you believe in with a band of like-minded individuals. Adrenaline going through your body and each note you play comes from your soul, there’s nothing like it, so I would have to go with touring. That being said, there’s something really special about being in the studio when you get a real, good groove going and pieces just fall into place.

underwing-live

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Magnus: Cool question, my picks would be;

1. Alt-J – This is all yours

2. Extreme – Pornografitti

3. The Struts – Everybody Wants (GREAT new band)

Enyeto:

1. Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

2. Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

3. Alt J – An Awesome Wave

Thomas: My picks will usually fluctuate a bit, but as of now it is:

1. Pink Floyd- Wish you were here

2. Alice in Chains – Facelift

3. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Joachim:

1. Motorhead – Ace of Spades

2. Guns n’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

3. Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction

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