Unwritten Law inhabits the upper echelon of successful punk bands, bands whose substance and longevity overshadow the countless hordes of imitation, fly-by-night pop-punk operations riding a one-way train to anonymity. In a musical climate where audiences write off and forget hundreds of bands who lack a smidgen of ingenuity, Unwritten Law repeatedly proves that its music connects with, attracts, and inspires loyalty in an ever-growing legion of fans worldwide.
The San Diego-based band's legacy continues with its sixth release, the upcoming album titled Here's To The Mourning, which will be released on Lava Records in early 2005. The band made an effort this time around to compose music that flowed from beginning to end. "We felt like each of our records have been written and played really well, but they haven't been that cohesive as a piece from front to back," comments Scott Russo, the bands lead singer. "This time, we're really making sure that all the songs are fused together, so it stands as one piece of music, with a really defined sound as well." Guitarist Steve Morris adds "[This record was] something that was fresh and fun for us."
The album features the input of many industry veterans, which increases its unique sound. The signature compositions on the record were produced by veteran Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson). Here's To The Mourning also features a collaboration with renowned musician and songwriter Linda Perry on the dynamic, introspective "Save Me." Bassist Pat Kim effuses "I cannot describe or compare this [album] to any previous album because it's not like any of our other albums. If you try to listen to all our albums back to back, every album sounds different and progresses. I try not to think about things we've done before but instead where we can take it." Russo summarizes, "It's pretty wicked stuff. We're really trying to make an evolutionary step."
The evolution of the band included the acceptance of a new drummer into the lineup. Both Adrian Young (No Doubt) and Tony Palermo (The Jealous Sound, Pulley) provided their exceptional talents for Here's To The Mourning. Palermo has now joined Unwritten Law permanently, infusing a fresh element to a band that has maintained a steady, albeit versatile, structure throughout its career.
Here's To The Mourning is another of Unwritten Law's contributions to the punk history it has helped create over the past decade through wildly successful world tours and album sales and numerous radio hits. The band formed in the northern San Diego County city of Poway, an area not classically known for its contributions to punk music. "The band showed up one day when I was living in an abandoned house. I sang a song, and they...[asked me] to join the band, " remembers Russo. The house had walls slathered with blue paint, which inspired the title of the band's first full length release, Blue Room. Sporting a dozen scrappy, hook-laden melodic punk tracks, the band's debut soon found its way into the hands of the region's underground punk community. The band soon signed a deal with Epic records, which provided for increased distribution of the debut. The deal also lent Unwritten Law credibility and acceptance outside of the independent community, which comprised the band's original fan base. The band followed up Blue Room with an even better received sophomore effort, Oz Factor. As the band increased in popularity, they felt it was time to find a new deal, subsequently signing a label agreement with Interscope Records. Unwritten Law released their third project, an eponymous album, in 1998, which cemented their reputation as a serious and lasting contender.
Unwritten Law gained mainstream acceptance in 2002, with the release of their album Elva, featuring the hit single "Seein' Red." Elva sat at number one on the modern rock chart for six weeks, exponentially increasing the band's fan base. After that, MTV invited the band to perform as part of the network's series "Music in High Places." The show encouraged the band to explore a completely new course for its music, as their repertoire of energized, electric guitar-fueled rock had to be performed in an arrangement appropriate for Yellowstone National Park. The session yielded impressive results, inspiring the band to record a predominantly live, acoustic disc. The band left Interscope and found a new home at Lava records, which released the acclaimed album version of "Music in High Places." "In all honesty, Lava is a smaller label - they're more of a boutique label - so they're more hands on," explains Russo of the decision to switch labels. "They are proven in breaking bands, so it's a really nice place to be."
Here's To The Mourning is Lava's second album partnership with the band. It promises to extend Unwritten Law's ability to reach a wide audience through its musical diversity. "You could put us out on tour with No Doubt or you could put us out on tour with The Used, or Helmet. We'll fit into all those categories. I don't know a lot of bands that could do that," says Russo. From the stripped-down, staccato strums of the title track to surging electric guitar chords and slamming drums in the chorus, the unique beat and catchiness of "Save Me," and the intense guitar riffs and urgent bass lines of "The Celebration Song," Here's To The Mourning delivers an eclectic offering to attract new fans and old and a complimentary sound that maintains a connection throughout the entire album, and promises to carry over into their future live performances.