Modern Fix

UNWRITTEN LAW – interview by Kelli Skye


From the sunny beaches of San Diego to commercial radio and MTV, Unwritten Law dance to the beat of their own. With four albums under their belt and the newest “Elva” spawning hits like “Seein’ Red” and “Actress, Model…” along with their sold-out dates with Mest and Sugar Cult, Unwritten Law is literally everywhere right now. Just wrapping up a leg of their tour, appearing on “Last Call” with Carson Daily, and currently working the radio show circuit the guys are clearly busy.

After a day filled with media conference calls guitarist Rob Brewer managed to use his last stab of daily sanity to talk to me in possibly the most odd and quick interview ever.
I still felt special though, because I got a one on one and didn’t have to partake in those miserable “conference calls.”

Unwritten Law is notorious for their mixed sound. Their new album being the prime example of ultimate diversity with tracks that explode in a punk rock fury, and then mellow down to an almost-acoustic sounding wrap up. Not to be overlooked though is their add-in’s of reggae and just a dash of rap-rock.

“We haven’t changed much over the years,” Brewer said. “We probably played a little faster then but otherwise it’s just been a gradual thing. Our new album is really diverse, it’s not the same drum pattern over and over.”

Brewer attributes the diverse sound of Unwritten Law to the fact that each member, including, Scott Russo (vocals), Steve Morris (guitar), Wade Youman (drums) and Pat K. (bass), bring a different sound to the table.

“We’re five very different guys,” Brewer said. “We differ in age, each of us a couple years apart and we all have the music we grew up listening to. We have different styles, so we blend them all together. I listened to a lot of punk rock, I think we all did but Steve and I bring a lot of blues into the music too.”

At this point in the interview we trailed off and started talking about guitar players that had influenced Rob such as Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vahn. As interesting as it all was, I couldn’t help but hear this chewing noise (which later sounded even more horrible on my tape recorder). It seems Rob found this the ideal time to have a snack and I had to hold myself back from laughing at the fact that I could practically hear the particles of food crunch out of his mouth. Call me easily amused, but I was a little taken back by it. It was very distracting but it made me laugh later when I told my friends. So anyways, back to what we were saying…gulp.

“Stevie Ray Vaghn was one of the guys I was amazed at just playing the blues style so I was definitely influenced by him,” Brewer said. “I would love to play a show with Jimi Hendrix, but maybe in another life.”

When asked what the title of their album, “Elva” really meant it was responded to with mixed answers. Through the grapevine I heard it was a mix between Elivs and Elvira. Now whether this is true or not, wasn’t really confirmed.

“It doesn’t mean anything really, it’s just a funny name,” Brewer said. “Scott said it sounded cool, just a cool word to say like a cross between Elivs and Elvira.”

Now that “Elva” (and whatever it may mean) has been out and played out on radio, the response has been strong to their first single “Seein’ Red.” The song plays out like an emotional roller coaster with definite valleys and peaks as the soothing intro breaks into a screaming-anthemous chorus that’s catchy and just plain cool. It’s definitely a highlight in their live show as well as it’s performed with perfection that places emphasis on their amazing talent to capture emotion in a song.

“Scott wrote that song a couple years ago and it was on the acoustic guitar and it was more picked out and I think the way we recorded it turned it into the big chorus number that we really wanted for it,” Brewer said. “We wanted it to pay off with the chorus an we felt the song was good lyrically but we had to add something to make it good musically as well.”

As far as future tour plans, Unwritten Law is packing their bags and off to Europe for a month before returning to play more U.S. dates. For now, they aren’t sure whom they plan on taking on the road with them, but having Sugar Cult on board for their last tour was certainly a wise choice! The last tour alone consisted of appearances by Mest, Ritalin Kids and Hornswaggled.

“It was just a bunch of different bands who were our friends,” Brewer said. “It was really cool and we had a lot of fun. It was a really fun tour.”

Coming from San Diego, Brewer describes Unwritten Law’s success as pure luck.

“It was luck and timing,” Brewer said. “We’d play parties, then bring the kids from parties to the clubs. Soon we played with other bands, then started driving around and played either small parties or clubs and sent out demo tapes. We just kept doing it and it paid off.”
Whether it was luck or the possibility that Unwritten Law just might have some talent, they’ve done well for themselves. Rob says they’ve been writing songs in anticipation of a new album.
“We’ve got songs,” Brewer said. “We’re not going to wait three more years to put out another album. I don’t know when we’re going to start recording, but it won’t be long.”