SoCal punk legends, UNWRITTEN LAW, are returning to Australia in February 2018 to perform their most celebrated record, The Black Album (officially Unwritten Law) in its entirety from start to finish. UNWRITTEN LAW consider Australia be their second home, so it’s fitting that they return to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the album that rocketed their careers from the local San Diego scene in to the mainstream chart. UNWRITTEN LAW helped paved the way for power pop punk’s success, and it was fitting that the band appeared on sophomore Vans Warped tour as well as the festival’s Australia debut. Scott Russo speaks to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour, the infamous Black album and what’s ahead for the band.
Australia definitely loves Unwritten Law and Unwritten Law definitely loves Australia. It must be a huge buzz to be coming back again?
Yeah! As you should know, we fucking love you guys and it’s always something magical or special for us coming down there and playing shows. We’re definitely looking forward to it.
Are you overwhelmed by the response to this tour. I can’t quite remember a reaction to Unwritten Law especially here in Adelaide?
Yes, let me say it straight out, yes, this is fucking great! But, I got to tell you, we were… I can’t speak for all of them. We are captivated by the fact, of the overwhelming response to this tour and this record. And when … like you’re from Adelaide right? I got too tell you mate, I fucking opened up a hundred fucking emails or messages that were like fucking dissing Adelaide, “We’re dropping Adelaide. We’re starting a petition to come to Adelaide.” I was like “fuck.” and so, now you have the artist reaching out to the promoters saying, “Hey, this should say Adelaide” and it’s like no no, no, no.
For whatever reason, they didn’t want to engage in coming to Adelaide. We were like, we have these fans who are fucking truly pissed that we were not coming, so we have to play there. Due to the overwhelming response from everyone in Adelaide, we were actually coaxed … to talk to the promoter, “Hey we have to play this.” Literally, I was on the phone with my manager, we have to, I’m not sure what’s the deal is or the reason is but we have to come down here and play a show because of Adelaide’s response, that they added on three more shows, which can only be attributed to Adelaide. So, fuck, yeah. The response was actually, mind-blowing, I’m not going to lie. We were blown away.
Australia must feel like a second home for you guys?
If there ever was one, it would definitely be Australia, if not a first home. Like, honestly, like we feel more at home there. I mean personally do than most cities in the United States for sure.
Do you feel a little bit staggered when you look, it’s the twentieth anniversary of the Black album?
I’ll answer your question with another question, how would you feel if you someone said, “Hey, congratulations on the twenty year of anything?” It’s like, fuck! It’s kind of like a double-edged sword, right? Well, I guess I can be like “Thank you!” But, thanks for reminding me it was like twenty years ago! We’re definitely stoked, by this. It’s crazy! To be honest, it doesn’t seem like twenty years. It seems like, I can’t say yesterday because it’s going to sound fucking cheesy, but it seems like seven years ago, you know what I’m saying? Like, that’s a good round number, seven. It feels like it was seven years ago.
Do you find that particularly playing this album you get nostalgic when you’re doing these types of classic album tours?
Yeah of course. It definitely makes you or forces you to look back at what has transpired, but in all honesty, it’s hard to put a gauge on this whole journey that we’ve been on, that I’ve been on. When you say twenty years or the Black record, you remember what you were doing at this stage. It’s like, fuck man, like, I have zero recollection of what I was doing. I’m sure I was having a good time. So, sure it’s nostalgic, if you want to throw that word on it.
What stands out most from that period when the album came out?
This is what I remember, I remember there being a lot of excitement around that time. It wasn’t like my favourite record. Even after we recorded it. I was like, “yeah, it’s cool or whatever but it’s not my favourite record. I probably wouldn’t listen to this on my down time.” People loved it. That’s fucking great. I’m completely honoured to be a part of people’s lives and make people happy. When the Black record happened there was a different feel around it.
People were fucking freaking out and like, my family was freaking out, my friends were freaking out. Well, everyone else was like, “fuck, it’s just music,” you know? I don’t understand it! Then, Australia in particular really gravitated towards this record. I got a phone call saying “hey you guys just went Gold in Australia.” I was like “what?” Fuck! These are not even dreams as a child. It might as well be fictional. I can’t even put into words what it was, there’s something about that time that really impacted not only the people who listened to it but us because of the people who listened to it. I can’t put any real timestamp on it, like this happened and that. I remember it being a moment. It was kind of like my whole life, well what the fuck just happened? For good or bad, what the fuck just happened!
If you had your time over, is there anything different that you would do with the Black album or do you think that it captures that moment in time really well and that it would be best left untouched?
It’s funny that you would say that. Reaching back and having to rehearse this record. I have had to take a fine comb and look at my lyrics through a microscope because I don’t remember half the fucking songs I wrote. Looking back at some lyrics, if I could have done anything differently, I would have paid a little more attention to the lyrical content. Like the songs I hear, when I was reading them back, again I didn’t remember them, reading them back and rehearsing them, I’m like “I can’t believe I fucking wrote that.” Then on top of that, “I can’t believe I fucking damn let me sing that on the record.” It was like what the fuck am I talking about? What it is, it was me, I guess, it had to be me, but it’s definitely not the person and the human being that I am today. So, looking back at it, it’s like fuck, what did I do? That a redo it! I wish I would have been a bit more fucking poignant with my lyrics.
Do you find that when you are rehearsing the album from start to end that there are some of the lesser known songs that take a bit of remembering how to play?
Anything can be played, so you can figure out a way to play something. If you have to adjust it, so that it can transpire live, then that’s really not … especially given my career I like to think that I’m pretty good at making that happened. What does happen is how, dealing with all music and all live performances, how do you make it convincing especially as a singer if that is not the mindset you are in now, you know what I’m saying?
Are there any new songs likely make their way into the set list?
Yes! We’re going to play a new song or two. We’re in the middle of writing a record right now. When we come back from Australia we’ll record it. We’re in pre-production now so hopefully it will be out in winter 2018.
Any plans to bump in to good friend Phil Jamieson and maybe do a duet on this tour at some point?
You know what? I’ve spoken with Phil and he is trying to work it out now to see if he can appear.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Tickets and VIP information here: www.davidroywilliams.com/tours/unwritten-law/