"It's only open to the campus," says Judy at UCSD's University Events Office about the Unwritten Law show Friday, December 3. The show is free, but Judy maintains that you can only get in if you are a UCSD student.
Unwritten Law frontman Scott Russo sees it differently. "I know all my friends are going," he says.
Next week's show is the first local appearance of Unwritten Law since founding drummer Wade Youman left the band in March. His departure was a messy affair, capping over ten years of on- and offstage confrontation between Youman and Russo.
The band's current 15-city tour is, oddly, three months before the February release of Here's to the Mourning, their sixth album. It was supposed to be out by September, but Russo said the initial tracks recorded last spring with producer Josh Abraham (Korn, Staind) just weren't right.
Another distraction was that empty drummer throne. No Doubt's Adrian Young and Tony Palermo of Pully and the Jealous Sound both sat in and played on different tracks for the new album. Russo said, "It was a long process" to eventually settle on Palermo as Youman's replacement. "We didn't know at first if he would be permanent. He was in two other bands. But he made a choice to come with us."
Palermo, who does not appear in the band's new publicity shot, lives in Los Angeles. Guitarists Steve Morris and Rob Brewer -- and Russo -- still live in San Diego, but bassist Pat Kim has moved to San Francisco. "Pat has to get on a lot of planes now.... His girlfriend works up there."
Russo disclosed that he has launched a second band called Scott and Aimee with former Elektra recording artist Aimee Allen. Russo's brother Jon Grill is on guitar and Hornswaggled's Brian Gata plays drums. "We are just now mixing our first record called Sitting in a Tree. We're putting it out on our own label."
After being signed then dropped -- first by Epic and then by Interscope -- Unwritten Law now records for the smaller Lava Records (owned by Atlantic), whose 20-artist roster includes Simple Plan, Vanessa Williams, and Kid Rock.
Russo and his bandmates were put in an awkward situation last week when L.A.'s KROQ, arguably one of the most influential rock stations, selected the song "Save Me" from the new album to play in regular rotation. Usually the record label (with the artist's blessing) selects what song is going to be released as the first single. But KROQ had a different plan.
"We wanted 'She Says' or 'The Celebration Song' as the single," Russo admitted. "But if KROQ likes the record, they like the song. It's in everyone's interest to let KROQ play what the fuck they like. KROQ was who came in and started playing 'Seeing Red,' which went on to become number one."
Perhaps more germane than the song selection was the fact that KROQ decided to play the song a full three months before the CD hits the stores.
"You have to wonder if the listeners will get pissed if they can't go out and get the record," says Mike Halloran, music director and DJ of 94/9. "If you can't get the CD, it's not going to do anybody any good [to hear it on the air]." Halloran said that he has "sampled" the new CD on the air but has not yet added any of the songs to 94/9's playlist. "You don't want to burn out a record before it comes out."
Unwritten Law appears at 8 p.m. on December 3 at UCSD's Price Center Ballroom, free.