Star Scene: Scott Russo ~ UNWRITTEN LAW

Scott Russo‘s scene is non-existent. The lead singer of San Diego punk rock band, Unwritten Law, states: “I’m sceneless. I’m not going to lie. I’m sceneless.” Eclectic and inclusive, Russo continues: “My scene is for everybody. Everybody gets a scene. You can have my scene.”

Australians love Russo and Unwritten Law. The band have been here 27 times since they began. One of their biggest successes down under was The Black Album and now, twenty years on, they are celebrating its birthday in Australia first. Russo explains: “What happened was we got an offer to come do Elva’s 15th year anniversary. We discussed coming back and doing a tour. Our promoters down there were like, ‘It’d be really dope if you did like an event like a record cycle tour it’s the 15 year anniversary for Elva. We think it’d be a good idea.’ So we did the tour and it was really successful. Everyone was really stoked and the fans were stoked and we were stoked. Cut two, the Black album, which is our biggest success in Australia, turned twenty this year, the promoters said, ‘Elva was great, we’d like to bring you guys back down but this time make it a bit bigger and do the Black record, which is your thing down here.’ That sounds like it would be a great idea. And that’s kind of how it started. Australia has always been a bench mark for what we do throughout the rest of the world, because of the success of the Elva’s tour and hopefully with the Black record, we are planning a double album tour here in the United States and doing both records back to back.”

Russo also confirms that they will be playing the Black album from start to finish but that won’t be the end of the show.  He states: “We’re going to come out and we’re going to play the Black record from the first song to the last song. In order. And then we’ll take a few minutes break. And we’ll have a set change design on tour. And then we come out and play an encore of the bangers. Hopefully we’ll run into little Phillip Jamieson [Grinspoon] and he will grace us all with his songs that he wrote.” [pullquote]Australia has always been a bench mark for what we do throughout the rest of the world, because of the success of the Elva’s tour and hopefully with the Black record, we are planning a double album tour here in the United States and doing both records back to back.”[/pullquote] Unwritten Law has now added four more dates, in regional areas, to now create an Australian tour of fifteen shows in seventeen days. Russo states: “Quite honestly it is a lot of shows it is a lot of travel. So what you do is you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, and you go to sleep every night after the show. Though you never can tell, the Cherry Bar is quite enticing, not gonna lie.” He continues: “It will be the first time we have done regional areas. That’s kind of been my thing as well, we always come to the Australia and we’ll do seven shows, we’ll do the seven main cities. The thing is with Australia, it’s so big, I don’t see why we wouldn’t spend more time there. In the past our whole career of touring there, twenty plus years, and I’ve always said this, why don’t we do outside cities. It’s kind of ironic that here we are almost at the beginning of our tour cycle with the Black record and it is the first with which we really smashed it down there, and that we are actually doing what I said we should have been doing all along. It’s really cool and we get to see parts of Australia I’ve never seen.”

Twenty years on, Russo agrees that the band would have recorded the Black album differently. He states: “I mean absolutely. Back then we were babies and we didn’t know about recording and we had already recorded a record by ourselves. Then we recorded a record with our hero, Paul DuGre, we were just getting started. It was completely different. We recorded, we didn’t know what we were doing when we started, we were just kind of writing songs. We didn’t know punk rock was going to happen. We were writing songs, we liked the music that we liked. So, when we got a chance, we were signed to Epic at the time, they said, ‘Who is your dream producer?’ And we said we’d love Greg Graffin to produce our record. And he did and strangely enough we are the only record outside Bad Religion that he’s ever produced.  We did that with him and once he’d done that we knocked that off the shelf. When it came time to do the Black record, they said we have these producers in line for you, and this gentleman Rick Parashar who has done all the Pearl Jam records and Soundgarden records, has this real clean sound. He is one of the few people on the list, we loved his records, we want to do it with him. Again we didn’t know what we were doing but he pulled things out of us, and taught us things, that were priceless, that we could have never learned on our own. And the difference between then and now is since working a lot of great producers and taking on their tricks and their knowledge, we now produce ourselves – myself and our guitar player Chris … Now we are the Rick Parashars and Greg Graffins.”

Producers were hand-picked and knowledge and skills accumulated, however influences are more difficult for Russo to pinpoint. He states: “My influences growing are all over the shelf. Basically my parents split when I was very young, two years old. My mother was really into pop music. And so it was a lot of Beatles, Buddy Holly, all these really clever short love pop songs. My dad was really into soul. He loved the Jackson Five and Earth, Wind, and Fire, and stuff like that. In this whole setting, what I thought was horrible, looking back as a fan of music, and as a person who makes music, it was the best scenario possible because my parents on both sides would listen to music all day, whether they were doing dishes or whatever, the Beatles and Buddy Holly at my Mom’s. And the soul at my Dad’s: Michael Jackson, Jackson Five, Janet Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago.  These things are all imprinted in my head; now becoming a music man myself.  When Punk rock happened in Southern California, it was a movement that hadn’t hit the mainstream. I was a punk rock child in spirit. Due to whatever happened in my childhood, I really gravitated towards punk rock. There was this new melodic form of punk rock that had happened. There really wasn’t any Pennywise or Offspring yet. You had the Misfits and Bad Brains. And you had the Ramones and Bad Religion had just started. Before that it was like Clash, and all these gutter punk bands and then all these really hardcore bands. Then when melodic punk rock happened, something really spoke to me. I’m not sure why, but I loved it. And so, Unwritten Law was born. We had influences and I could play instruments and my friends could play instruments. We just started a band not thinking that it would the rest of my life.” Russo’s rise to fame was not a smooth one, but it was musical.  He states: “I started playing piano when I was 9 years old. And I was in a ska band, called the Spy Kids, which was a crazy story in its own. I got kicked out of my house when I was 14. I moved in with this guy named Matt Hensley, who was the greatest street skater in the world at that time.  And I skated for H Street. And Operation Ivy had just happened. Matt loved punk and I loved ska and I played the keyboards. So we started a band, and it was called Spy Kids, when I was 14.” [pullquote] I was a punk rock child in spirit. Due to whatever happened in my childhood, I really gravitated towards punk rock.” [/pullquote] “Now getting to the guitar,” Russo continues. “Our band broke up when I was about 15 or 16. I just continued skateboarding, that was it. I was living in this abandoned house. This band came over about a singer needed for covers. And I sang for them and when I was done, the drummer came up to me and was like, “Hey, we’d love for you to sing for the band.” And I was like, “Yeah.” At this time, punk rock hadn’t happened. I was just thinking to myself, “Yeah, this could be fun.” Again, this won’t be my life. He goes, “Cool. We’ve got six songs written with no lyrics. Here they are.” I took them home, I wrote lyrics to them, and then came back a week later. We recorded that. That was a six-song demo. Now, to answer your question, when did I first start playing guitar – what happened was my guitar player, we were a five piece at the time, and were writing songs with no more than three or four progressions chords in a song. So, I literally picked up a guitar, and I learned how to play it with two fingers. Playing bar chords with two fingers. I learned how to play guitar that way, just to write progressions that I could write melodies that were more than three or four progressions.  So I literally took the first song I wrote, which was C.P.K. And how that song came about … I was literally on my couch. There was this Charter Hospital commercial on the T.V.  I was like, “That’s a great melody.” It had seven chords in it. And I stole that progression, and I put a chorus on it. And then I modulated it, meaning I had put a half step in the bridge, and so forth. That was the first time I had wrote for Unwritten Law. And that how I learned to play guitar so I could have a more in depth chord progression.”

Catch Scott Russo and Unwritten Law playing The Black Album and more live on their Australian Tour starting 9th February 2018.

David Roy Williams Presents Unwritten Law The Black Album: 20th Anniversary – Australian Tour

Grab your tickets here:

VIP M&G tickets available


THURSDAY 8th February 2018

See David Roy Williams for more information.

SoCal punk legends, UNWRITTEN LAW, are returning to Australia in February 2018 to perform their most celebrated record, The Black Album in its entirety from start to finish.

UNWRITTEN LAW considers Australia be their 2nd home, so it’s fitting that they return to celebrate the 20th 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.

“The band’s status of forever and always being the guys you want to sit in the backyard and polish off a slab with remains unchanged.”

White-hot songs including Holiday, California Sky, Cailin, and of course, Teenage Suicide will blast fans into moshing ecstasy.  The combination of raw guitars and melodic punk songwriting that made The Black Album a classic will be on full display in shows that leave fans sweating and shouting for more.

Fans won’t just be treated to The Black Album (officially titled Unwritten Law) either. The band plan to unleash a veritable parade of devastation with monster tunes from their catalogue of punk eminence. Thrashfest hits such as Seeing Red, Up All Night, CPK, Rescue Me, She SaysCelebration Song, and Save Me will punctuate the sort of live shows that have enshrined the Unwritten Law in the punk hall of fame.

UNWRITTEN LAW first erupted from Poway in California, establishing the foundations of the power pop-punk era that burst from the USA in the early 90s.  Although renowned for their ruthless punk energy and rock-solid quality song writing, it was Unwritten Law’s teeming and unrestrained live energy that earned them a permanent place on the melodic punk rock landscape.

Through frequent and tenacious touring, UNWRITTEN LAW have carved out an illustrious musical legacy, full of memorable anthems and live highlights.  Throughout the 90s and 00s, Unwritten Law gained a fierce reputation as both the stalwarts and force behind the scene, with multiple infamous rounds on the Warped Tour.

UNWRITTEN LAW packed venues out on their last Aussie tour. This is the only time you’ll get to experience “The Black Album” in full so don’t run the risk of missing out on tix to witness this most committed of great punk bands in all their hard-hitting glory.

Summer, beer, UNWRITTEN LAW, and The Black Album – February aint gonna get much better than this!

David Roy Williams Presents Unwritten Law The Black Album: 20th Anniversary – Australian Tour

UNWRITTEN LAW Australian Tour Dates

Friday 9 February – Melbourne, Croxton
Saturday 10 February – Brisbane, The Zoo
Sunday 11 February – Coolangatta, Cooly Hotel

Tuesday 13 February – Byron Bay, Byron Bay Brewery
Wednesday 14 February – Coffs Harbour, Coffs Ex
Thursday 15 February – Newcastle, Small Ballroom
Friday 16 February – Narrabeen, Narrabeen RSL
Saturday 17 February – Sydney, Factory Theatre
Sunday 18 February – Bunbury, Prince Of Wales Hotel
Tuesday 20 February – Perth, Rosemount Hotel

Wednesday 21 February – Perth (Northern Suburbs), Carine Tavern


Grab your tickets here:

VIP M&G tickets available

VIP M&G Ticket includes:

Ticket to the show

Meet and Greet with Unwritten Law

Photo with the Artist on the fans own phone or camera

2 items signed by Unwritten Law

Limited edition A3 Thick Card Poster

2 x guitar pick

Official commemorative VIP Laminate

Priority Access to the Venue

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.