By Wyatt Nation
In the early ‘90s, Unwritten Law was a well respected punk band from Southern California. Unfortunately, they were overshadowed by Blink- 182, Pennywise and The Offspring, to name a few. Unwritten Law’s popularity and identity reached its apex during the late-‘90s with their third record, the self-titled/black album. It was a musical departure from the So-Cal sound (in other words, appealing to more than just angry teenage boys), but everything about it was superior to what they’d done previously and they’ve yet to apologize. An increasingly evolved Unwritten Law has reformed to deliver their sixth full-length, Swan, this year. Synthesis got the chance to speak with Scott Russo, vocalist and original member of Unwritten Law, about the band’s past, present and future.
What has changed since [last time we spoke]?
Not a lot’s [changed] since then. Unwritten Law has gone through some line up changes. We just released a new record called Swan. We did the Warped Tour this year after not being on it for about 10 years. That was nice… We actually took like a six-year hiatus; now we’re coming back out.
What was going on during the six-year hiatus?
I was writing and producing for a lot of other artists. Anya Marina on Atlantic. Mike Posner…I was co-writing with a lot of people and producing. The rest of the guys in the band were busy having kids and getting married, and moving on with their lives. We’ve been together since 1990, and it was that time in life to hang out with your family.
So, not everybody made it back in the band after the hiatus?
Well, Steve [Morris, original guitarist] and PK [Pat Kim, former bassist], we all recorded Swan together, and went on one US tour, but after that it just became too much on them, and all of us for that matter.
You’re not upset or frustrated with their choices?
Um, I’m definitely saddened by their choices, but upset? No…as you know, there is not a lot of money to be made in music, unless you’re on the radio constantly or you’ve sold a million records before music became free… Family does a lot to people. I’m definitely saddened at their departure, but I completely understand.
What were your expectations when you were younger compared to how things have turned out for you today?
When we started, it was before the real Southern California punk rock wave had hit. At that time you had Bad Religion and NOFX… You didn’t have Pennywise or Offspring or anything of that nature, where Unwritten Law has been lumped into for so long. We’ve kind of distanced ourselves from that genre. We weren’t thinking careers, we weren’t thinking jobs…we wanted to have fun and play parties with our friends. That was about it. Music was a hobby. At that time all I really cared about was skateboarding. I was skating for H Street and Airwalk at the time, and that was my focus. For [music] to turn into a career was a blessing. To actually make money back at that time was a blessing as well. At this point, today, you really have to do it for the love of it. I love creating music. For me it’s like getting a puzzle and putting it together and when it’s finished, you feel some kind of gratification.
What are you listening to now?
I’m all over the place. I’m a big fan of Mickey Avalon, with all his twisted, weird-ass shit. One of my favorite bands is Grinspoon, from Australia. I’ve really been on a Patsy Cline kick lately. Not sure what that’s all about. I don’t mean to be a fair-weather fan, but I loved Amy Winehouse when she came out. When she passed I really dove back into her records. Mark Ronson’s production is amazing. The sorrow Patsy Cline brought to love songs, I don’t think was matched until Amy Winehouse, and I didn’t put that together until recently. I got the new Yelawolf record; he’s obvi- ously pretty gifted. I also listen to music I’ve been
producing. I’m working with this band in San Diego called Super Groupie, an amazing project. I’m also doing a project with legendary skateboarder Danny Way called The Clique. We have appearances by Del The Funky Homosapien, Eddie Rap Life, Sky from LMFAO. I’m producing stuff with Tommy Lee. There’s stuff all over the place.