Words Mikaelie A. Evans.
When Californian Skies are forecast to meet Australian shores: an interview with Unwritten Law’s Scott Russo.
As Scott Russo answers the phone, he’s having several other conversations with those in the lounge room. It’s 1pm in San Francisco and the people from immigration have arrived an hour early to complete his paper work for Unwritten Law’s upcoming tour of Australia. After an initially jolted introduction, we settle into the exchange of questions and stories related to the bands future, past and present.
With the frontman’s paperwork currently in process, we nostalgic punters Down Under have a lot to be excited for. With the beginning of their scheduled tour dates quickly approaching, we know that we can anticipate their 1998 self titled album AKA The Black Album in full, but what else?! Despite the fact that I may be considerably too young to be an old-school fan, I couldn’t hold back my excitement when it came to asking Scott, “So, what can you expect? Well, we’re gonna play the Black Record from front to back, the first song to the last song, and then we are gonna break down that set and play additions.”
When I asked him if that meant we could expect an overall healthy mix of classic tracks, he laughingly continued, “If we have classics, there’ll be some of the classic ones in there. The Black Record has what I guess would be a lot of Australian classics. In our normal set we play a lot of The Black Record songs but as far as set lists, we play the songs that we think are the strongest and the best songs to play live that aren’t fuckin’ cheesy or (the songs that) make us feel like we’re meant to be there or something like that.”
Although it seemed to me like it might of been too long ago to now ask Scott what influenced his writing twenty years ago, he was quick to elaborate on his memory. “I think at that time there was a lot of music taking place and a lot of music was changing. Like for instance, there was that whole Epitaph Records movement that was happening that we were very much a part of and we liked that but when everything became so cookie-cutter, it kind of made, like me in particular, not stoked that it was so easy to create – and I’m a fan of other music – so I wanted to kind of add in different shit from the kind of stuff that I liked. I can only imagine, that’s why it’s a bit all over the show.”
Though in relation to the lyrical content, I wondered if they had also been drawn on from previous experiences in Scott’s life, “I’m sure that obviously some of them, maybe even most of them were. It’s funny that you ask this very fucking question,” continuing, “for practicing and rehearsing, I had to Google my own lyrics and as I’m reading them I started crying, like, these lyrics are so horrible! I would never say that now! Never, in a thousand years! I can’t believe that my band let me sing this on records! It was insane. Then we rehearsed it acoustic and it was very naked. Then we played the songs together as a band like, okay, they’re not that cheesy, not that bad… and everyone was like ‘no, they’re great!’… Some lyrics are personal, but some are just completely fictitious bullshit. Sometimes I was putting words together that I thought would make me cool… but honestly…” We laugh at how we supposedly grow with our age and Scott draggling proclaimed that he’s old. How old exactly? “I’m 87, thank you for asking.” Oops.
Age hasn’t seemed to tarnish much for Unwritten Law though as we begin looking towards the future of their music. After their Australian Tour, the SoCal legends will continue working on an album that’s in pre-production at the moment, due for release in Australian winter. A distant alarm rings in the background, wailing over our voices. Which winter though, 2018 or 2019? Dammit! The question has been forgotten… We’ve seen a variety of musical collaborations throughout their discography, and although no names have yet been confirmed, we could possibly expect to see a few more collaborations on their next project.
In the meantime however, we’ll have to wait in anticipation for the announcement of Unwritten Law’s new album, and appreciate their golden oldie’s for the interim. Beginning their tour in Melbourne on Friday 9th February, we don’t have too long to wait until their Black Album is played in full!