Dryw Keltz 2 p.m., Jan. 23
Unwritten Law Fight, Shakeup...Breakup?
Bassist Pat Kim and guitarist Steve Morris have left Unwritten Law after a physical altercation with frontman Scott Russo. According to statements given to Alternative Press by Morris on behalf of the departing duo, the incident began with an argument over the band's bus call after a show.
"My decision to depart the band came to a head after this event and numerous other volatile events between Scott Russo and the members of the band and crew throughout the years."
"The incident broke out when we were arguing over our bus call after a show. Scott was over an hour late and I had to be home to make my son's last tee-ball game the next morning. I wasn't expecting to be hit; that's not the kind of thing I ever thought would happen."
"PK's and my decision to leave the band was not something we took lightly and I truly regret having to leave the band in this way. We want to truly thank all of our fans around the world for their love and support over the last two decades. We will miss you all.”
According to Pat Kim's statement, "After 15 years of service and gratitude, I have decided to step down alongside Steve Morris from Unwritten Law. It was a difficult yet easy decision after witnessing the altercation between Scott and Steve. We've had our ups and downs and plenty of fights within this group but this was finally the incident that ultimately led to my decision. I regret to leave in such an unspectacular fashion."
Pat Kim has been with the band 1998, while Steve Morris has been a member since 1991.
Taking their places in the group will be guitarist Kevin Besignano (ex-Bullets and Octane) and bassist Derik Envy (ex-Red Light Sky). The only longtime member remaining is Russo (drummer Dylan Howard only recently joined).
The shakeup comes while the band embarks on the Vans Warped tour for the first time in ten years, after being banned for a decade over allegedly starting a “riot” in Sydney, Australia.
Russo also issued a statement about the lineup shakeup. "Steve and PK have left Unwritten Law. Out of respect for them and their families, we waited to make an official statement so that some of the dust could settle. It all came to a head when Steve and I got into a fight on the last night of our Swan US tour. This was obviously the deciding factor in whether or not they could continue on. Their presence will be missed, but with respect to all past and present...Unwritten Law is and has been my entire life."
Unwritten Law formed in Poway in 1990. After releasing several albums and touring half the world, founding drummer Wade Youman was fired from the band in 2004.
Interviewed by the Reader around the same time, Youman showed off a huge "FOR THE KIDS" tattoo that spans his chest. He got inked on the day he was booted out of the band he says he launched. Youman said the slogan best explains the difference between him and Unwritten Law's lead singer, Scott Russo.
"Scott [Russo] is now just using the band to boost his Hollywood macho career.... It has nothing to do with what Unwritten Law has ever been about. He's real fake. He always has been. He's real self-absorbed.... Unwritten law is now a business. That's all there is to it, and it sucks."
As far as the other members go, "I'm being told by one of them that they are hanging out purely because of the money coming in."
Youman said he saw his ex-bandmates when Unwritten Law played at the House of Blues in Anaheim. "Half of them wouldn't even look me in the eye."
Even his old record label has come after him. "My website wadeyouman.org was shut down by Atlantic Records because I was posting songs that I helped write. I posted the songs for free. They got ahold of my Internet server three months ago, saying Atlantic Records owned these songs. So I said on my new website [unicursal.net] I'm still gonna give these songs out.... What's little known is that I was very much one of the songwriters. On the first two records, I wrote most of the lyrics."
Attempts to get a comment from Unwritten Law manager Les Borsai were unsuccessful, but Russo said that it was true that Atlantic/Lava took action against Youman's website. "I heard they shut it down twice." He said the band has done nothing to hold back Youman's royalties. "We couldn't stop him from getting paid even if we wanted.... Everyone gets paid [royalties] twice a year. We can't stop ASCAP from paying him."
Unwritten Law's 2005 album Here's to the Mourning debuted at #51 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, the band's highest debut to date. A single from that album -- "Save Me," co-written with Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes -- hit the top ten on many alternative charts. Around the same time, Fuse TV ran a 30-minute special on the band, including a live performance and interviews.
Guitarist Rob Brewer was fired from the band in April 2005. "Long story short? [Rob Brewer] sucks. He hit me and then we fired him." So said Unwritten Law's Scott Russo to MTV News April 11 2005, announcing that guitarist Brewer had been booted after an onstage fight on March 23 at the House of Blues in Anaheim that left Russo minus a tooth and Brewer missing part of his pinky.
Russo says the onstage argument was over Brewer's refusal to play "F.I.G.H.T." from Here's to the Mourning. "So I said on the microphone that Rob's mad at us. I went over to try and give him a hug, and he pushed me." Russo says he threw some water at Brewer, whereupon "he knocked one of my teeth out. So I walked offstage. Rob did too. But I walked back out, threw his guitar on, and we finished the set without him. Then I threw his guitar into the crowd and gave it to the kids."
Russo says he found Brewer backstage holding a vodka bottle. "He tries to hit me over the head with it.... The bottle connects with the top of the door jamb and smashes, cutting half of his right pinkie off. Needless to say, he couldn't play the next two or three shows because he had to have surgery to reattach his torn ligaments."
According to Russo, Brewer also shoved a fan who made his way backstage to meet the band in Anaheim. "He yelled at the kid, 'What the fuck are you doing in my [dressing] room?' and he hit the fan across the room. We were just, like, 'What the fuck is wrong with him?'"
The band continued touring as a quartet.
Unwritten Law spent much of 2006 recording a "best of" album entitled The Hit List, which featured 17 songs, most re-recorded by the current lineup, as well as 2 new songs. Released on January 2, 2007 by Abydos Records, it's lead single "Shoulda Known Better" charted high on several alternative charts. Interscope Records released their own "best of" Unwritten Law compilation entitled, 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection.
In 2008, in addition to touring Australia with Sprung Monkey, the band has a live DVD and CD called Live And Lawless. The 2-disc CD/DVD, capturing a live performance at Hollywood's Key Club, was produced by Devin DeHaven (Busta Ryhmes, Method Man, Papa Roach), and includes 13 live tracks as well as behind-the-scenes footage and band interviews.
In late 2010, the band invited fans to submit cover art for their sixth studio album, with plans to release three of those covers on three different album versions. Swan was released March 29, 2011, via Breaksilence Recordings/Suburban Noize Records