Under The Influence

Formed by a group of friends in high school the Illawarra based band, Under The Influence (UTI), has stood the test of time, thanks in large part to their friendship. For over 20 years now UTI has been toiling away in and around Wollongong, consistently playing live shows to their dedicated and hardcore fans. However, recently the band has decided that they should pursue music more vigorously and attempt to branch out from their hometown comfort zone.

When UTI first formed they had a unique three-piece setup which saw vocalist Shane Kinerson also manning the drums. Reflecting back on those times Kinerson and bassist Chris Curci realise this live format had both positives and negatives.

On the positive side, “it was kind of a novelty thing,” said Curci before Kinerson added, “People used to blow out when they saw that I was singing and drumming.”

However, as a negative, this three-piece format detracted from the energy of the live show.

“With me singing and drumming we lost a bit of the live dynamic by having the singer sitting behind a drum kit,” said Kinerson. “When the band first started I was only meant to play the drums but we couldn’t find a singer so I decided to give it a crack until we found someone. Over the years though I enjoyed singing a lot more than I did drumming, so when we found Dan [Southern] to play drums I stuck with singing.”

This shift to a four-piece setup would be the first step for UTI to progress to the next level. With the introduction of Southern, the group began to take the music more seriously and chose to head into a studio to produce their EP, Wasted Youth.

“Before Wasted Youthwe did everything ourselves, from the recording to the printing and the release. With that record though, we went into a studio and produced something which was of a higher quality, that we felt we could send out to labels,” said Curci.

UTI’s belief in Wasted Youth would eventually prove to be correct as it would lead to them signing with Golden Robot Records. Signing with Golden Robot placed UTI on a roster alongside the likes of Rose Tattoo, Skid Row, Palace Of The King and The Superjesus. Something which again gave the band more confidence and drove them to once again rise to the next level according to Kinerson.

“That [joining Golden Robot] was what pushed us to work so hard on the Exchange My Brain album as well. That album would never have happened if Mark hadn’t signed us!”

With the band now brimming with confidence and with the backing of the label behind them, UTI has been able to alter their live show schedule. In the past UTI would constantly play to they dedicated hometown fanbase, but have now realised that in order to grow that needed to change.

“We’ve now realised that going to Sydney or Canberra or Melbourne and playing a gig to 20 or 30 people who have never seen us is better than playing a gig in Wollongong to a crowd of 70 to 100 people who have seen us 10 times before,” said Kinerson.

Aug 17. Valve Bar, 871 George St, Sydney. $10 on the door. Info: www.valvebar.com.au

Read J.A.M articles early by subscribing to J.A.M Zine over on Patreon.