Northern Diving Co., formed in 2000, quickly grew a loyal following in the Twin Cities music scene, drawing listeners to the group’s approach to alternative rock, influenced in equal parts by classic American and modern British bands.
The band evolved through lineup changes that took a five-piece, fronted by Justin Law and Erin Kate, to a four-piece led by Law and manned by drummer Justin Korhonen, bassist Mark L. Jonsson, and guitarist Matt Uttech. NDCO’s quick rise took them to weekend slots at Minneapolis venues before the band went into hiatus, delivering live shows remembered for their sonic and emotional intensity and two albums that continue to stand the test of time.
In 2000, Northern Diving Co. released the EP Silver Side Up. After getting over the shock of Nickelback soon choosing the exact same album title, the band decided to simply acknowledge the Canadians’ (in their opinion rare) display of great taste. Recorded at Third Ear in Minneapolis (the same studio that has housed Soul Asylum, Low, and Andrew Bird), Silver Side Up contains five simple songs that mix introspective melancholy with atmospheric, distorted guitar.
NDCO continued to push the atmospheric envelope with 2002’s Going Under Killed By Wonder, recorded in Korhonen’s studio and mixed by skilled track-tweaker Alex Oana. Still melancholic and featuring a more focused guitar sound, Going Under Killed By Wonder’s lyrics are heavily influenced by loss and longing. The album’s staying power may rest in its unique sonic fingerprint, making it hard to place in a specific decade.
Before going silent, NDCO placed tracks on two compilation records, one titled Unsung Heroes and another through Velvet Blue Music, and shared stages with national bands such as Switchfoot and PFR.
The last two songs of Going Under Killed By Wonder signaled what was to come, unbeknownst to the band. “Sweet Sweetly” and “Seem Too Simple” conclude the album on a decidedly sparse and acoustic note, with the focus more specifically on Law’s voice. The next release from Law, The Phoenix, would begin with a thematic nod to his past in the opening track “Here Underwater.”