The Fanpage of the Icelandic band Hellvar by Wim Van Hooste

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The story of Unun - A lesson in history by Dr. Gunni


Dr Gunni and Thor Eldon get together to form a band. Name Unun (meaning "Pleasure") is found while playing Scrabble. First singer Kristin joins. The threesome practise at Dr Gunni's flat on a 4-track.


Studio sessions for first Unun album start on the 1st of April. Band records a song with rock veteran Runar Jul which becomes a summer hit. While recording it becomes clear Kristin is not good enough. Panic sets in but Heida comes to save the day.
First album - ae - is finished with Heida singing. Ae comes out in the beginning of Dec. and Unun plays some promotion gigs with Dr Gunni on bass, Thor on guitar, Heida on voc and guitar, Obo on drums and Johann Johannsson on keyboards. Johann co-produced "ae" and is later to become part of Lhooq.


"Ae" is voted best album of 1994 in Iceland. Having a surprise hit Unun plays a lot gaining large audience in Reykjavik and outside. In the spring the band starts to translate the Icelandic lyrics into English. The results come out as "Super shiny dreams" on Bad Taste in USA and Europe. Sales are slim. In the summer Unun record two cover songs with Paul Oscar = big summer hits. In the fall Unun plays in Danmark, France and Switzerland. Now Matthias Hemstock (drums) and Valgeir Sigurdsson (keyboards) have joined the band.


Unun supports Bjork on 3 dates in England. Interest is high for Unun in foreign courters. Lots of nice record company people take Unun out for dinner and Unun plays for good people in Iceland and abroad. Still no recording deal but Unun signs publishing deal with Polygram. Unun plays Eurospotting festival in Danmark.

Gigs 1996

20.01 @ G-Mex, Manchester, U.K.
Plus Bjork and The Brodski Quartet. We were supposed to play the night before in Sheffield, but our back line didn't arrive in
time. My left leg is in a cast because I broke it on New Year's Eve in a freak accident involving a tiny drag queen and too much rum. I have to sit on the stage, which is not very "rock 'n' roll" - fuck that. The rider is cool. Someone finds a wheelchair and drives me on stage. We play a "best of" and the crowd thinks it's ok.

22.01 @ A Mall, Bournemouth, U.K.
Plus Bjork and The Brodski Quartet. Smaller and better. We are tighter and the crowd likes us more.

24.01 @ Dublin Castle, Camden, London, U.K.
Plus two local bands whose names I have forgotten. This is a gig for some A&R people who flock to see us. Tiny club, good sound, good gig.

25.01 @ Wembley Arena, London, U.K.
Plus Bjork and Goldie. It's ok.

29.02 @ Thjodleikhuskjallarinn, Reykjavik.
Plus Botnledja. I'm rid of the cast but I have a cane. British A&R hounds come over to see us. Then we all get drunk and stupid.

27.03 @ New Powerhaus, London, U.K.
Plus some local bands. I can walk! All the record company people in town attend, I'm told. We are swell. And then we get drunk.

29.03 @ Tonabaer, Reykjavik.
We are the guest band at the "Music experiments", the local "battle of the bands" thing in Iceland. We do two sets. This is the final night.

17.06 @ Laekjartorg, Reykjavik.
Another Independant's day ball. The same thousands of drunk teenagers. Pall Oskar appears out of nowhere and does "Astin dugir" with us. A big flock of British A&R people are there to see us. Matthias Hemstock's last gig with Unun.

26.07 @ Rosenberg, Reykjavik.
Plus Fraebbblarnir and Q4U. We get to support our all time punk heroes. In that case we do a faboulous punk rock gig plus
we do 4 new songs. The last song is "Surprise" by Purrkur Pillnikk which Einar Orn joins us on the stage for. The is the first gig
for Unun' third drummer, Birgir Baldursson. Me and him have been playing together with S.H.Draumur and Bless so we're tight as shit. The best rhythm section in Iceland no doubt.

I was so lucky to be one of the few people to see this fabulous gig for free, 'cause I was hanging around the Rosenberg concert venue so very early.
In July 2006, I was an exchange student in "Landspitalinn", the University Hospital of Iceland, Reykjavik. My apartment that summer was above the apartment in Tryggvagata, that once belonged to Bjork Gudmundsdottir, and with a view on the harbour of R'vik (with the whaling ships "Hvalur").

14.09 @ Hotel Budir, Snaefellsnes
Unplugged Unun at this country hotel under the volcano/glacier Snaefellsjokull. We owed a lot at the bar from our earlier stays
there and had to do something about it. The local band Hundslappadrifa supports. Magga jumps in and plays accordium, but
Valgeir is not with us this time. We practise for 3 days, then play our songs in strange and country-like versions. The crowd of
100 locals and hotel guests like it plenty. So do we. It's freezing outside yet we manage to take a drunk picnic in a cave under the ground. Thor looses his brand new Zippo. Now we offer a price for whoever finds it. Try looking in the Brugg-cave.

14.10 @ Camden Monarch, London, U.K.
We play another empty shithole in Camden for a handful of "music business" people. The stage is small and the stage sound is crap. Naturally we are kinda crap too.

15.10 @ Astoria 2, London, U.K.
With The Wannadies and Davey. We decide to be great and we are. I pity them Swedes in The Wannadies to be after us.

09.11 @ Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
Unun is part of a 4 day Europian mini-festival, along with 14 other groups. We headline the last gig, The Pansies (from Finland)
and Los Planetas (from Spain) are before us. This gig is recorded for all sorts of Europian radios. We are tight and powerful. I'd say this is our best gig yet.

Unun! Unun! Unun!
Unun plays at the Roskilde festival in Danmark. Deceptive signs Unun and releases two singles. So-so reviews. In native Iceland Dr. Gunni releases children album "Abba babb!" and "The Farting People" becomes a big hit.

Gigs 1997

10.05 @ Laugardalsholl, Reykjavik.
Supporting Skunk Anansie with Botnledja and Sodin Fidla. Tickets for this gig sold out weeks before and the place is packed, mostly with young kids, straight from their comfirmation party. It's our first gig in Iceland for almost a year and we're recieved warmly. Needless to say, we all get drunk after nicking some sandwiches from Skunk's backstage room.

16.05 @ Hotel Island, Reykjavik.
We get a call from the University. They want us to play at their final term ball.Ok, we say, we need the cash but we can only play 1 hour so you'll have to find a 2nd band. They bring in Greifarnir - a band I'd rather have killed myself than play aside 10 years ago - but, Y'know, you get a little more lenient as the years pass. The ball goes fine, oh yeah.

27.06 @ Yellow Tent, Roskilde Festival, Denmark
The first time Unun plays a regular big style rock and roll and rock festival. I stay with friends in a village through the whole festival to catch up on some bands I wanna see. Seeing Bob Hund (an amazing band from Sweden) and Isaac Hayes do The Theme from Shaft were easily the highlights of the time. Playing was rather cool too. It was raining heavily when we started at 14:30 so the tent was just full of people. Two nice fellows from Lithuania throw a stuffed toy cow on me and later come back stage and promise me a tractor when I come to Lithuania. For some reason my bald skull steams through the whole concert, like it's on fire or something. Maybe it was because my girlfriend was in the audience, seeing me play live for the first time.

28.07 @ Barfly, The Falcon, London
A little gig in London to celebrate our first single which is actually coming out a month later. The place is a hole in Camden and it's hotter in there than Georgia asphalt. The room is damp with body fluids of us and the cream of the crop of English music business who's who (I'm told). We shake hands with some people afterwards, including the damp palm of a very famous and a very drunk pop star. "Who was that drunk", Bix asks us afterwards at the bar at the very posh Clifton Ford Hotel. The bartender there, Salah, is our friend and asks us what we do. "Uh, we play in a pop group", we say. "Really!", he exclaims, "I thought you were a bunch of hairdressers because you look so happy!" Then the night goes on with discussions about antiques and bag pipes. Oh joy!

05.09 @ Laugardalsholl, Reykjavik
Supporing Skunk Anansie again with P.P.Ponk. It's a fine gig. We play "Driven" for the first time live, and "Kung Fu Blue" and "You do not exist" with a sequenced beat.

01.10 @ Gaukur á stöng, Reykjavik
"Gaukurinn" as this place is usually called is Iceland's oldest pub. They have live music almost every night but for some reason Unun have never played there before. P.P.Ponk supports us both the nights.

02.10 @ Gaukur á stöng, Reykjavik
Gaukurinn again. We play fast and furiously cos we dig it so much.

30.10 @ Camden Monarch, London
Unun have embarked on the "I SEE RED" tour around Britain. This is the first gig. Heave and Antacid are bands that play with us tonight. Thor and Valgeir have the best kebab of their lives on the way back to the hotel (Hotel Columbia - where every pathetic rock musician of this miserable planet has stayed and whored.)

31.10 @ Hare and Hound, Birmingham
Arni, the sixth Unun-er, drives the van. We sit tight and throb in air tight space. England is totally ugly. There is no landscape, just blurred fog. Then we come to Birmingham, one of the countries ugliest towns. The poster reads FEATURING THOR ELDON EX-SUGARCUBES in bolder letters than unun. The place is next door to a bingo hall and the scattered crowd looks like they should rather be playing bingo. Two fat slags hassle us after the gig, demand a refund and sing Bonnie Tyler songs.

01.11 @ King's Tut, Glasgow
THE place in Glasgow, I'm told. Nice place f'sure. Scotland looks much better than England. Glasgow is a fine town. The junk food is served in heaped porportions and even I get digestion problems. The sausage is pale and the gig goes well.

03.11 @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Wales looks even better than Scotland. It must be the home of Postman Pat cos the landscape is all hilly and nice. This is probably the best gig of the whole tour. Nice non-stuck up crowd.

04.11 @ The Army and Navy, Chelmsford
A lunatic must have designed this shitty little town cos we spend eternity in the van trying to find the bar. Finally we do. It's a small place. A band called Sugarglider plays before us. Heida likes the teenage drummer, but she even likes the Jelly-Belly automat more.

06.11 @ Night and Day, Manchester
At a sudden glance Manchester looks the most miserable of all the cities we see, probably because we see a man puking in the gutter outside our hotel. The crowd to the gig all seems to be on something and afterwards the owner gives us V.I.P cards and asks us to some party. We sneak out before any damage is done.

07.11@ Bass Clef, Northamton
Ah Northamton, the jewel of England... What a crappy place! The Bass Clef is somekinda warehouse disco and the clientele looks like it's 1982 and Alien Sex Fiend is back on top (oh I see, it's 1997 and it's Marylin Manson!). Anyway, dangerous looking crowd that stares at us like ghouls on liver. Before we go on I have a incident with a stereotypical Hell's Angel dude who wants to give me tension, but then laughs and says he's from Sweden and skol! The club manager offers Arni dope and prostitutes before he coughs up the fee.

08.11 @ Union Bar, Maidstone
The worst gig ever. We share people's attention with pin ball machines. Afterwards the bartender at the country hotel stays up late serving us his speciality, the "Blue Fuck" cocktail. He divorces his wife the next week.

10.11 @ Barfly, The Falcon, London
Back to the hottest club hole in London. We sweat like muthafucks. The place is packed. Satellite Beach are on the bill too. A fine end to a fine tour, I reckon.

26.11 @ Gaukur á stöng, Reykjavik
A fuckin' brilliant gig cos it's just pure fun to play those songs tonight. Vinyll, one of Iceland's best new bands support us.

27.11 @ Gaukur á stöng, Reykjavik
This might just be the most accidentally fucked up Unun gig ever, cos I break two E-strings in my basses and Thor breaks one string in his guitar. The gig is therefore interupted by rather awkward gaps of silence which would have been ok if the whole gig would not have been broadcasted live on Bylgjan, one of Iceland's radio stations. Who cares? No one!


Deceptive drops Unun. Unun is like a very tired horse waiting to be slaughtered but still manages to put out "Bones", a 4 track leftover ep. Finally Dr. Gunni and Heida say; "Enough of this, let's have some action", and go into the studio to make "Otta", the 2nd album. All other members quit but three new members join; Birna on keyboards, Viddi on bass and Doddi on drums. The new Unun plays in Iceland.

Heida sings and plays guitar. She used to be a troubador. She studies philosophy and will be delivering mail this summer.
Dr. Gunni plays guitar and screams occasionally. He has been playing music since 1979. Ex-bands include S.H.Draumur and Bless + 3 solo 7"s (pigfucking punk) and one album (best selling children's album). He "works" as a journalist.
Birna plays the keyboard. That's the only thing she wants you to know about her.
Viddi plays bass. He has been in Kvartett O Jonsson og Grjoni and Quarashi. He has worked as a sound- and cameraman for TV and films. Him and Doddi have a studio called Skrifsstofan and a project they call Traktor.
Doddi was also in Kvartett O Jonsson og Grjoni and is in Traktor. He plays drums in Unun. He's in another band called Canada where he plays the bass. Former bands include Muzzolini and Vapp. He drives beds in the local hospital for a living.

Gigs 1998

04.06 @ Hedins-skemman, Reykjavik.
At the Popp i Reykjavik festival along with almost every worthful band in Iceland. There's so many bands that we only do 5 songs, the stuff from the Bones EP plus a brand new hit; "I'm Your Radio", or "Vid Vid Vidtaekid" as it's currently known in Icelandic.

02.07 @ Midt fyn Festival, Danmark
At this festival in Fyn we play @ 3:30 for several hundred curious listeners. The festival is full of young farmer types, most of them pretty louded. Our set is: I'm A Radio, Heim á Hellissand, (new song) Coma, Bones, Vé la Gonzesse!, Driven, I see red Kung Fu Blue, You Do not exist and Astin dugir. Nick Cave is played later on so some of us stick around. After this gig we go back to Iceland and start seriously to make Unun's second album..

06.11 @ 22, Reykjavik
The "difficult" second album "OTTA" is out so we celebrate at the small club 22 where the sweat hangs in the air. The new line-up is Viddi-bass, Doddi-drums, Birna-keys, Heida-vox/guitar, Dr. Gunni-guitar/vox. No old songs are played so the setlist is as thus: Ordin Tom, Rokkur, Heimsendir, Daudi a minibar, Vid vid vidtaekin, Mexico, Geimryk, Gaerastar, Sumarstulkublus. For encore we do three oldies: I can't let go (Evie Sands), Leader of the pack (The Shangri-Las) and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (Abba). Afterwards we get comments like "Wow, it's a real band now" and "I've never seen Unun so good before", and sure, it's a fucking great gig.

19.11 @ Kaffileikhusid, Reykjavik
Another brilliant gig! Fraebbblarnir start the show and kick ass. Runar Juliusson follows with his first accoustic guitar concert ever. He's a mighty rock legend that has survived the 60's, the 70's, the 80's and grows old like fine wine. Unun ends the gig, makes too much mistakes, but sweats a plenty. For encore we get Valli from Fraebbblarnir to sing "Nekrofill i Paradis", and then Runar comes on stage again and sings "Hann mun aldrei gleym'enni", a standard hit we did with him way back, and "Lifsgledi", a song that his old band Hljomar made famous. After all this the crowd naturally wants more so we totally rip Abba's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" apart and mend it together with buckfulls of noise. I find the God of Noise and my hand shivers like a tree in a storm afterwards. Woweee!

22.11 @ Kringlan, Reykjavik
Unun plays few songs in front of Hagkaup in the fuckin' mall. I break a string.

04.12 @ Ras 2
Live at the Ras 2 radio on Mister Oli Palli's show. We rip thru five trax ending with a earwax-melting version of the fucking Abba song. Later in the day we play "Geimryk" for Kolkrabbinn on TV.

05.12 @ Tjarnarbio, Reykjavik
This concert we call "Rock against hang over" and expect people to show up at 2 O'clock. We offer Magnyl (an asperin kinda pill) and hot xmas tea, but almost nobody shows up even though writers Hallgrimur Helgason and Mikael Torfason and Sukkat, Ensimi and Botnledja (aka Silt) are also on the bill. Note for future: Never play at 2 O'clock on a Saturday.

11.12 @ Hitt husid, Reykjavik
Free concert at this youth club at 5 O'clock. Heida the guitar-molester breaks two stings in her guitar.

18.12 @ Japis, Reykjavik
Me, Heida and Doddi play 3 songs unplugged at a record shop. Everything for promotion, yes!

19.12 @ Loftkastalinn, Reykjavik
"Give me rock for my stockings" - xmas harvest rock gig. On the bill with Unun are Botnledja, Magga Stina, Bellatrix, Surefni, 200.000 naglbitar and writers Hallgrimur Helgason and Mikael Torfason. From 21.00 to 01.30 - Big rock deal but not that many people care or show up. I would call it a bummer if I wasn't so optimistic.

Gigs 1999

03.02 @ Thorscafe, Reykjavik.
We are back in the prostitute business ("We're all prostitutes", yes?) and decide to play a couple of balls to make some monee. So we spend some weeks practising songs like Disco 2000 (Pulp), Girls and boys (Blur), Here Comes Your Man & Gigantic (Pixies), Partybaer (HAM), You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC) and five songs from Abba babb! Here we play this plus our own stuff. The place (normally a stripjoint) is packed with drunk collage kids from FG and MA. For 95% of the crowd it doesn't matter what's going on on the stage as long as it sounds like thump-thump-thump.

12.02 @ Sjallinn, Isafjordur.
We take our ball-program to Isafjordur to play for the collage kids there. Here we are met with totally different attitute cos the kids at Isafjordur know HOW TO ROCK. Probably the best gig in the ball-history of Unun. Afterwards we go and party till dawn. Special thanks to Thorkell for driving us around and his poem.

19.02 @ Gaukurinn, Reykjavik.
Plus Orkuml. The weather is mega shitty so not that many folks show up for the ball.

11.03 @ Tonabaer, Reykjavik.
Once again we play as guests at the Battle of the bands at this youth center. This is the first of four semi-final nights, and the winner of the night, Minus (hard core extremists) end up being the winners of this years competition.

17.03 @ So What, Oslo, Norway.
Our 8 date tour starts with a great gig at this fine club in ugly Oslo. Our promoter Heidi and her friend come to pick us up at the airport in a rented van. Goin out of the parking lot they scrape the side of the car. The cost is 5000 NOK, a little less than the incoming money for the gig (a support gig for RadiOrakel - Oslo's cool female operated alternative radio). Anyway, we play along with The Loch Ness Mouse (nice Monkees/Teenage Fanclub/Beach Boys hybrid) and Sister Rain (Some kinda legends in the Norway scene). We get a great reaction from the people. It's a packed house. It's fun. And we're very happy!

19.03 @ Pulkvedim Neviens Neraksta, Riga, Latvia.
We have never been in Latvia before. We take the ferry to Tallinn, then drive to Parnu in a bus and then drive to Riga in a cool Renault. It's a nice ride and the country is exotic to us. We like how cheap everything is. We go ga-ga in the kiosks. We meet Richardo, our promoter under the statue of liberty (or the "green woman" as he calls it) in Riga. Then we walk around town, the Paris of the Baltics (as the tourist brochure says). The gig takes place at the hippest place in town. It has a tiny stage. We go to a gigantic water tower where there is a recording studio. Our support act, Sirke, is recording stuff there. We have a press conference (Unun's second ever!) in a record shop. It's all a bit weird, we're not used to the attention, y'know. We're also recorded for the TV at the club. Anyway, after Sirke plays (very good instrumental stuff, post-rock, Can etc) we do and rock fat.

20.03 @ Waldhof Music Factory, Parnu, Estonia.
The day after we drive from Riga to Parnu taking Sirke along. Parnu is not a big town but famous for it's good beaches (we're told). Timo runs the club, a big youth center-kinda place and an old communist factory, hence the name. A local band, Blind, is the 3rd band on the bill, a very big name in Estonia. They start and the crowd goes wild. The crowd goes less wild for Sirke and Unun, but that's ok as we have a box of Rock beer. (After Soviet fucked off one of the first things Estonians did was to start making Rock beer.) Unun plays thru Chechoslavian amps, brand Tesla, who sound like tractors. Also the light show reminds of a lighthouse. Good time, but our least great gig on this tour.

24.03 @ Tavastia, Helsinki, Finland.
THE place in Helsinki, where everybody eventually plays. The days before we've done Jyrke, a TV special, and some more interviews. We play with Honey B & The T-Bones and PLUM. The famous writers Einar Orn Gudmundsson and Einar Karason are in town (as part of the same "Icelandic week" as we) and the show starts with them screaming in front of the stage. Then lots of people show up and the atmo is electrifying.

25.03 @ Tahti, Kuopio, Finland.
We're on the road with Plum. We have a monster of a bus driven by Kari Vainekainen, a fine fine man who's also the soundmanager and the roadmanager. He does a good job in all departments. The gig takes place in a packed pub where the groove is a-happenin. My old boss, Heikonen from Bad Vugum, shows up.

26.03 @ Karen, Turku, Finland.
Kari, Plum and Unun drive for 7 hours. Then Turku. The venue is a student place. We rock. Full house. Some pervert is lying on the stage the whole time, touching his groin and trying to see under Heida's dress. Eventually she gets tired of this and during the encore she kicks his head in. Poor pervert is dragged out unconscious. Why do wimmen perverts never do this to me?

27.03 @ After Eight, Pietarsaari, Finland.
A no-bar youth-club. The attentants do not usually stand up or clap but they do tonight as Heida threatens them. Pietarsaari is the home of Plum so we go to a party at their rehearsal kingdom afterwards. Pipra vodka from Estonia etc. till dawn.

29.03 @ Jump Inn, Helsinki, Finland.
Our last gig this trip. Monday in Helsinki. We show "Rokk i Reykjavik" and some short films. The club is packed. I'm drunk and have to sit down. Heida is drunk but can stand. We flog the material. Then we all get even more drunk. End of tour.

09.06 @ Bors Night Club, Turku, Finland.
Unun goes again to Finland and this is our first gig on a 4-gig tour. The gig is a part of the "Down by the Lituary" festival and with us play two finnish acts, Ville Pusa and Crash. The club is very fancy, even too fancy, but it's kinda packed too. We play inside a little fence and it's dark, so we don't see much people. But they see us and like what we do. Turku is hoppin with action because of this festival and I witness some party guy shit his pants in the street in broad daylight. Fortunately he does the deed outside a 2nd hand shop so he is wearing new trousers when I meet him a bit later in the pub. A bit later I see his shitty pants in the gutter. One new song on the program: "Esja", which becomes everybody's favorite. Do we have a hit here, eh?

11.06 @ Tulli-Club, Tampere, Finland.
There's a heatwave so many people don't like to be indoors. But they who come enjoy us, Sirke from Latvia and Pansies from Finland.

13.06 @ Bar Mary, Porvoo, Finland.
Small and very very nice club in Finland's oldest village. The P.A. is kinda lousy so Heida kinda looses her cool and freaks out. Kinda fine gig still the same. Sirke plays too.

17.06 @ Gloria, Helsinki, Finland.
Fourth and last gig this round. Nice place. Sirke and Pansies play too. It's a fuckin' good gig and it ends with Viddi loosing control over his limbs and he attacks Heida and then me. In a feedback frenzy we all end up lyin' on the floor laughing and screaming. Nice!


2nd July 1999
Bad news kids. Viddi, Doddi and Birna have quit Unun. Heida and Dr. Gunni are left but who knows what happens. Not me!

16th July 1999
Unun is no more.
Expect the comeback 2010-ish. In 2000 Both Heida and Dr. Gunni plan to release solo albums.

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