Finals are done and I finally have some freedom from forcing knowledge into my brain. That means more updates on good ‘ol BHP.
Let’s start off things with right way with a contest. I have not had one in a while so why not? How about an Unwritten Law contest?
Up for grabs I have 3 Unwritten Law prize packs that will include:
A CD of Unwritten Law’s Swan
An Unwritten Law t-shirt
An Unwritten Law poster
I reviewed Swan a few weeks ago when it released and wound up enjoying it. The band has been through a lot over the years and still are dishing out material. If you have not heard their new album yet, you have no reason to not try and win it then!
So how do you win one of these prize packs? Throw in a comment below with a valid email telling me what class in high school or college you absolutely hated. You know what kind of class I am talking about, the one class you would have rather chewed off your own arm to get out of the room.
Mine would have to have been the Shakespeare class I took at Tri-C years ago. I had no right signing up for that class and was absolutely miserable taking it. I wound up dropping it because I knew it was only going to hurt my GPA plus I was not about to read a Shakespeare book a week…
Southern California’s Unwritten Law once used to be a skate punk band that was a ritual in my ears. I popped in their cassette in my trusty Walkman daily and used them as a soundtrack to my life. As the years went by, they kept dropping albums and thier songs followed me around.
The first time I ever saw Unwritten Law was at a Warped Tour in some stone-covered parking log in Cleveland in the mid-nineties. They were just what my young ears were looking for. Weeks later they opened for Bad Religion at the infamous Agora. That was all I needed, I was an instant fan. From there on I made a point to see them live every time they came to Cleveland.
I can sit here and recall portions of my life that included an Unwritten Law song. I remember having a first kiss to “Catlin” in my beat up Cutlas Calais and years later hearing a girl admit their love to me in some dindgey-ass Kent State apartment while “Because Of You” played in the background. The songs pose as prompts to personal memories that will last for a lifetime thanks to a band that I have seen live easily over 12 times.
After battles with drugs and alcohol as well as with a brush with death due to a fire that claimed all of lead singer Scott Russo’s possessions (but not family), the band took all of their problems and issues and used them as fuel to write an all new album. Recently the band, including original members Russo and bassist Pat “PK” Kim, dropped Swan, their sixth studio album on Breaksilence Recordings/Suburban Noize Records.
“Starships and Apocalypse” started off the 11-track album with a more rock driven feel with Russo in singing about some Gucci knock-off glasses wearing woman who clearly is out of this world. “Nevermind” followed with a more Killers synthesizer sound going on in the background. “Dark Dayz” slightly hinted to older sounding Unwritten Law making for a good track to listen to. I love the way how Russo can still tell a story while singing.
Out of nowhere came “Sing” an acoustic song that just put the breaks on the entire album. For those of you that have heard Music In High Places you can agree with me that UL plays great acoustical songs. Gentle and just beautiful to listen to, this was one of my favorite cuts on the album.
“Let You Go” was more of a ballad than a song. The track lead up to an explosion of group vocals that laid behind Russo’s vocals. Just by listening to it you can tell there was a lot of effort put into it. I loved the change up when the bass took over only for it to build up again.
“Chicken (Ready To Go)” featured hip-hop god Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. The first time I listened to this song I just shook my head and wondered why in the hell did there have to be a hip-hop/rock song on this album. The truth is, the track is actually kind of catchy. I loved Del’s raps (as always) and really got a kick about half way though the song when Del steps back and lets Russo do his thing for the chorus.
“Love Love Love” was a touching track that I am positive will land on a mix for that next special someone out there that steals my heart. It was a ballad by a punk rock back with a lot of heart and a ton of talent.
Unwritten Law leans more towards a rock act these days, but still they have not completely lost that punk rock edge I adored the first time I heard them. A lot can happen in fifteen years and this band is proof of that. From playing side stages to headlining their own shows, Unwritten Law has paved their way to rock-stardom their own way. Swan is continued proof that this foursome still has what it takes to make it in the music world.
Punk rock is not dead. I say that a lot recently because I know it’s true and there are still bands out there releasing honest, wholesome punk rock albums for the sake of just doing it. They are not looking for money or fame, just a good time doing something they love.
Here is where I now introduce a punk rock band that I like right? Well you are half right.
Recently I had the chance to talk it up with Christian Martucci about his new band as well as some of his amazing past. If anyone has lived a punk rock dream, it’s Martucci.
BHP: Your new band, Thousand Watt Stare, has an EP dropping next month. What can you tell me about this new project you’ve created?
CM – We just love to play music and have a good time with it… I’m very happy to play with these guys. No ego’s, no pressure… It’s a breath of fresh air.
Why the change-up in sound from previous bands you have been in?
In Dee Dee’s band it was Ramones songs, Black President was all Charlie, and The Chelsea Smiles were more of a straight rock n’ roll band… I’ve had the Thousand Watt Stare stuff in my head for years now. It was just never anything that would work with the other bands. I’m glad they’re finally seeing the light of day.
So how did you hook up with Unwritten Law’s Pat Kim and Dylan Howard?
PK played with Black President early on when Hetson was still in the band. We had a great time hanging out back then and always kept in touch. When Black President ended and it was time to start something new, I called Pat and we started jamming. He brought Dylan on board and two weeks later, we started recording.
Why did Black President disband anyways?
I think Black President had to break up… When you consider some of the guys schedules, it doesn’t really allow them to go full steam a head with a side project. The thing with that band is that it wasn’t supposed to be anything more than a cover band to blow off steam. That was actually my favorite part of doing it… Looking back I’m actually really surprised we even made the record. It wasn’t meant to have a long shelf life. I think of it more as a psycho that everyone cheated on their bands with for a few years.
As you already mentioned, you;ve worked with some heavy hitters in the punk rock world including Bad Religion’s Greg Hetson and Dee Dee Ramone. How did those opportunities come about?
Your guess is as good as mine… I wasn’t having good luck where I was, so I saved up $600, packed a suitcase, one guitar and just moved from Philly to LA in ’99. I only knew one person out here and was sleeping on his couch. He introduced me to Stefan Adika. Stefan was playing bass for Dee Dee at the time and asked if I’d like to come down and play. I ran home, went over like 30 something songs and showed up at the rehearsal room that night… Dee Dee had NO idea I was coming down and was a little freaked out… He looked at me and said “So, what are you gonna try to play guitar or something?” I didn’t know what to say.
He was one of my biggest hero’s. I just smiled like a nervous idiot, plugged in and we played “Rockaway Beach”. We got done, he looked at me and was like “OK you better sing the next song now… ‘Chinese Rocks’… 1-2-3-4!” “Alright I think we better go to ‘South America’ now…” The whole time I was standing there I couldn’t believe I was playing with Dee Dee Ramone. That feeling lasted the entire 3 years I was able to do it. Everything about him was for real.
The thing with Greg happened from when Black President was still a cover band called Shithead. We had Marc Diamond from The Dwarves playing with us and… I can’t remember what happened. I think The Dwarves had to go on tour, so Charlie told us Greg Hetson wanted to do it. I actually thought he was kidding at first. Next thing you know, he’s at rehearsal playing Dead Kennedy’s songs with us. I really like Greg a lot… Awesome guy and as down to earth as they come…
You started touring recently around California . Any chance of a nationwide tour any time soon?
No definite plans yet but we really hope so…
Your previous bands toured a lot over the years. Who were some of your favorite bands to tour with?
Bouncing Souls, TSOL, New York Dolls, Social D, Backyard Babies… There are so many but those are the ones that stick out the most for me. They are all very good people.
For the punk rock lovers out there, can you tell them why they should check out Thousand Watt Stare?
The punk rock I like is the kind where there aren’t any rules. In the 70’s punk didn’t have a defined sound yet, that’s why I think it was a great as it was. Television, Dead Boys, Ramones, The Clash, etc. None of those bands sound like they should be in the same genre. I think you should check out Thousand Watt Stare because we don’t worry about those things either… It’s just honest rock n’ roll.
I can not say I dig the band’s name at all, it reminds me of Five Finger Death Punch….(worst band name ever), but I do dig all three musicians and am looking forward to hearing this release. They promise “zero whining and no screaming” in their music that is aimed at the fans of real punk rock.
Seems like bad things always happen to good people.
Last Friday a fire tore through Unwritten Law lead vocalist Scott Russo’s home. He and his family escaped and were unharmed but they lost everything. To make matters worse they had no insurance so they have nothing.
According to San Diego’s Channel 10 News the damage was estimated at $500,000.
According to NBC San Diego the home was Scott Russo’s childhood home as well as the location where one of Unwritten Law’s videos was shot (“Teenage Suicide”). It was reported that some of the family’s pets did not make it and Scott Russo also lost some life accomplishing items such as gold records and even one of his first guitars.
With no fire insurance the family (Russo, wife, and 3 kids) has nothing as far as belongings but thanks to local musicians and friends a benefit concert for Scott Russo and his family is being held tomorrow, 02/10/09, at the House of Blues in San Diego.
Tickets will range from $50 to $75 with proceeds going directly to the family. Alongside Unwritten Law perforing will be Jason Mraz, Timmy Curran, and Switchfoot.
It’s nice to see people coming together to help out a family in need.
Donations for the Russo family can be made through PayPal or by mailing a check to:
Platinum Financial Management, Inc. for the benefit of Scott Russo
9200 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
The band also posted this BLOG about other ways their loving fans can help.