Unwritten Law

Unwritten Law

Unwritten Law is an American rock band formed in 1990 in Poway, California (a suburb of San Diego) and currently recording for Suburban Noize Records. They have released seven full-length studio albums and have toured internationally, including performances on the Warped Tour. They are notable for their singles "Seein' Red" and "Save Me (Wake Up Call)," both of which entered the top 5 in the US Modern Rock charts. Their most recent release is a "best of" album entitled The Hit List, released January 2, 2007.

Band History


Unwritten Law formed in Poway, California (a suburb of San Diego) in 1990. Original drummer Wade Youman generally takes credit for starting the band, and a number of players came and went before the lineup coalesced to include Scott Russo on vocals, Steve Morris and Rob Brewer on guitars, and John Bell on bass. They released their first cassette demo in 1992, followed by the 7" vinyl single Blurr in 1993. The band quickly established themselves in the prolific San Diego music scene of the early 1990s that also included groups such as blink-182, Buck-O-Nine, Sprung Monkey, Drive Like Jehu, and Rocket from the Crypt.

Early albums

In 1994 the band recorded their first album, Blue Room, which was released by local label Red Eye Records. It established their early sound of fast-paced punk rock and gave them the opportunity to build their reputation by playing local shows in and around the San Diego area. Songs such as "CPK," "Shallow," and "Suzanne" would become favorites with local fans and would remain in their live set for years to come. The album attracted the attention of Epic Records, who signed the band to a recording contract and re-released Blue Room the following year.

Their second album, Oz Factor, was released in 1996. The songs "Denied" and "Superman" received airplay on several southern California rock radio stations and were released as singles. Over the next year the band toured the United States with bands such as blink-182 and Pennywise.

Self-titled album and tours

By 1997 Unwritten Law had signed to Interscope Records and bassist John Bell had left the band. Pivit bassist Micah Albao joined them in Seattle for the recording of their self-titled album Unwritten Law which was released in 1998. The singles "Lonesome," "Cailin," and "Teenage Suicide" became minor hits on rock radio stations. Pat "PK" Kim, formerly of Sprung Monkey, joined as their new permanent bass player and the band embarked on the Vans Warped Tour, which took them across North America, Europe, and Australia. In Australia the band developed an enthusiastic and dedicated following, and they would return there over the next few years and release several singles and live recordings exclusive to the country.

Mainstream popularity

The band spent a considerable amount of time recording and preparing their next release, 2002's Elva. The album was a stylistic change of pace, deliberately moving away from their established punk rock formula and towards a more accessible hard rock sound. The lead single "Up All Night" became somewhat popular, but it was "Seein' Red" and its accompanying music video which brought the band their greatest success, reaching #1 on US modern rock charts. They toured extensively in support of the album alongside bands such as Sum 41 and The Used.

In 2003 the band was invited by VH1 to film an episode of the live acoustic series Music in High Places. The invitation happened somewhat by accident, as the station was hoping to attract Jimmy Eat World but contacted Unwritten Law's management by mistake. The band recorded a set of acoustic performances in various locales at Yellowstone National Park. They prepared the recordings for release as an album, but Interscope declined to release it. The band ended their contract with Interscope and signed to Lava Records, who released Music in High Places as an album. The performance was also released as a DVD entitled Live in Yellowstone. The song "Rest of My Life" from this performance received airplay on modern rock radio stations nationwide.

Lineup changes

Shortly after the release of Music in High Places founding drummer Wade Youman was ejected from the band due to personal and professional issues. For the recording of their next album Here's to the Mourning drummers Adrian Young of No Doubt and Tony Palermo of Pulley joined the band in the studio. The band got along so well with Palermo that by the time of the album's release in 2005 he had joined as their permanent drummer. Much of the lyrics on the album were co-written by singer Scott Russo's girlfriend Aimee Allen, with whom he formed the side project Scott & Aimee. Allen and Linda Perry contributed to the writing of the album's lead single "Save Me (Wake Up Call)," which reached #5 on US modern rock charts. This was followed by the single "She Says."

In March 2005 guitarist Rob Brewer was fired from Unwritten Law due to disputes with Russo and other band members. The band chose not to replace him and continued on as a 4-piece. They continued to tour in support of Here's to the Mourning across the United States as well as internationally.

Recent activity

Unwritten Law spent much of 2006 recording a "best of" album entitled The Hit List, which was released on January 2, 2007 by Abydos Records. It includes 17 of the band's most popular songs, most of which were re-recorded by the current lineup, as well as 2 new songs including lead single "Shoulda Known Better." Interscope also released a "best of" compilation entitled 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection which includes songs from the albums Unwritten Law and Elva. On January 3, 2007 the band performed "Shoulda Known Better" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That July the band embarked on a North American tour in support of The Hit List, with Scott & Aimee drummer Dylan Howard filling in for roughly half the tour while Palermo stayed home with his wife, who was due to give birth.

Also during 2007, Palermo acted as fill-in touring drummer for Papa Roach. In February 2008 it was announced that Palermo had joined Papa Roach permanently. Meanwhile, Unwritten Law filmed a live DVD at the Key Club in Hollywood, California in March 2008.

Recently, according to Amazon.com, the CD/DVD set will be released on 30th September 2008.

Band members

Unwritten Law lineups
(only official members listed)
(1991 - 1998)
Blue Room
Oz Factor

Unwritten Law
(studio recording only)
  • Scott Russo - vocals
  • Steve Morris - guitar
  • Rob Brewer - guitar
  • Micah Albao - bass
  • Wade Youman - drums

(1998 - 2003)
Music in High Places
  • Scott Russo - vocals
  • Steve Morris - guitar
  • Rob Brewer - guitar
  • Pat "PK" Kim - bass
  • Wade Youman - drums

Here's to the Mourning
  • Scott Russo - vocals
  • Steve Morris - guitar
  • Rob Brewer - guitar
  • Pat "PK" Kim - bass
  • Tony Palermo - drums

(2005 - current)
The Hit List
  • Scott Russo - vocals
  • Steve Morris - guitar
  • Pat "PK" Kim - bass
  • Tony Palermo - drums

Current members

  • Scott Russo – vocals
  • Steve Morris – guitar, backing vocals
  • Pat "PK" Kim – bass, backing vocals
  • Dylan Howard – drums

Past members

  • John Bell - bass (1991 - 1998)
  • Wade Youman - drums (1991 - 2003)
  • Rob Brewer - guitar (1991 - 2005)


Studio albums

Year Title Label Format Other information
1994 Blue Room Red Eye CD/Cassette First album.
1996 Oz Factor Epic CD Last album with bassist John Bell.
1998 Unwritten Law Interscope CD First album with bassist Pat Kim.
2002 Elva Interscope CD
2005 Here's to the Mourning Lava CD First album with drummer Tony Palermo. Last album with guitarist Rob Brewer.


Year Title Label Format Other information
1993 Blurr Red Eye 7" vinyl First single. Out of print.
1999 Visit to Oz Interscope EP Australian tour EP. Out of print.

Live albums

Year Title Label Format Other information
2003 Music in High Places Lava CD Last album with drummer Wade Youman.
2008 Live & Lawless Suburban Noize CD/DVD First album with drummer Dylan Howard.

Compilation albums

Year Title Label Format Other information
2006 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection Interscope CD "Best of" compilation of tracks from Interscope releases Unwritten Law and Elva.
2007 The Hit List Abydos CD "Best of" album including 2 new songs, new recordings of 14 previously released songs, and 3 songs from Here's to the Mourning.


Year Single Peak positions B-sides Album Label
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock
1996 "Lame" "Revolution" Oz Factor Epic
1999 "Cailin" 28 Unwritten Law Interscope
2000 "Lonesome" "Falling Down" (live), "Denied" (live), "CPK" (live), "Lonesome" (live)
2001 "Up All Night" 14 "Darkside," "Baby, Baby" (demo) Elva
2002 "Seein' Red" 105 1 "Take Me Away," "Mean Girl (Trickbaby remix)"
2003 "Rest of My Life" 16 Music in High Places Lava
2005 "Save Me (Wake Up Call)" 108 5 "Save Me" (radio edit), "Save Me (Reggae mix)," "Slow Dance (remix)" Here's to the Mourning WEA/Atlantic
"She Says" 32 'Get Up (remix)," "F.I.G.H.T. (remix)"

Official bootlegs

Year Title Label Format Other information
1997 Live in Hollyweird no label CD Live recording from the Palace in Hollywood. Released in a limited edition of 2,000. Out of print.

Non-album tracks

Year Title Label Song(s) Other information
1997 Before You Were Punk Vagrant "Goody Two Shoes” Originally performed by Adam Ant. Features members of Buck-O-Nine on horns.
1999 Short Music for Short People Fat Wreck Chords "Armageddon Singalong" Compilation of 101 bands playing 30-second songs.
2002 Don't Make Me Pull This Thing Over Roadrunner "Take Me Away" Soundtrack album to MTV's Road Rules.
2004 unreleased no label "Home in Paradise" Used as theme song for TV series North Shore.


Year Title Label Format Other information
1992 Six Song Demo no label Cassette Recorded at Blindfold Studios. Out of print.


Music videos

Year Song Album
1996 "Superman" Oz Factor
1998 "Teenage Suicide" Unwritten Law
"California Sky"
1999 "Cailin"
2000 "Lonesome"
2002 "Up All Night" Elva
"Seein' Red"
2003 "Rest of My Life" Music in High Places
2005 "Save Me (Wake Up Call)" Here's to the Mourning
"She Says"
2007 "Shoulda Known Better" The Hit List

Video releases

Year Title Label Format Content Other information
2003 Live in Yellowstone DVD Complete Music in High Places episode of acoustic recordings in Yellowstone National Park.

Music in film and video games

Several of Unwritten Law's songs have been included in the soundtracks of films and video games. "Cailin" is used in the soundtrack of the movie Coyote Ugly (2000), in which the band appears performing the song. "Get Up" is preloaded onto Xbox 360 premium pack hard drives and is also used in the trailer for the game Indigo Prophecy. "Celebration Song" is used in Need for Speed: Underground 2 and MX vs. ATV Unleashed, while "F.I.G.H.T." is used in Burnout Revenge and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition.


External links

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