I first met Unwritten Law for my
other job, an associate producer for a regional music show
in Manhattan. We interviewed their drummer Wade Youman
while playing pool. Later on in a show ID, Wade threw soup
on his face and slammed his head into salad. Very punk. When
the publicist asked me who I wanted to interview I said "Wade".
Unwritten Law is a fun band. See them live. The new age of
punk may be not as hard as it used to be but the attitude
is all there. Check it out.
Dan Epstein: Youíve
said that you were always driven to be in a band, what were
the other options?
Wade Youman: If I
told you, I would probably become that. Is that a good answer?
DE: I think thatís
a good answer. What do you think when youíre audience gets
really aggressive and starts moshing?
WY: Whatever the kidís
drive is to get their emotions out, whether it be watching
the show or physically getting into it. As long as they are
not beating up a little girl or getting their issues out from
their childhood on somebody. Iím fine with it because going
into a pit is a tough thing. You canít go in there wearing
DE: Why did you self
title your last album?
WY: We all decided
that the sphinx represented Unwritten Law pretty well and
we havenít used the self-title yet.
DE: Unwritten Law
has toured with some of their idols, like The Circle Jerks
and Pennywise. What was that like?
WY: Its awesome touring
with people who made sense for you growing up. Its unexplainable,
itís rad. I definitely feel a privilege and a duty to do the
same for those who come next.
DE: How much did the
Circle Jerks mean to you growing up?
WY: The Circle Jerks
meant everything man. They were my parents, well at least
my dad (laughs). I had a good mom but as far as the other
side of things, those bands raise you. Its like those moments
when you were a kid sitting in your room wasted, listening
to Circle Jerks loud, itís a really good feeling I know that.
It helped take away some
of the alienation by far.
DE: Why did Unwritten
Law go through so many label changes?
WY: Because weíre
label whores. Usually we piss off the record label so another
one picks us up. Itís usually me bitching about how much they
suck. But in this case Iíve come to terms with major label
fights a little more. I know how to be calmer about it. Itís
for survival of arts, conditions. I always wanted the art
to be under our belts and it always it. But that becomes a
fight for marketing.
DE: Without Green
Dayís popularity do you think youíve guys would have broken
through? Because your hit single "Cailin" isnít
WY: Youíre correct;
itís more of a love song. As far as the punk thing goes. Punk
is more of an attitude like a "fuck you weíre going to
do it our own way", and it still is that way with us.
I think its evolved to the point where if you keep that concept
in your art your safe. Thatís what weíre doing. As for us
breaking through, itís hard to go back and redirect history.
Green Day had a big part of my evolution.
WY: Just Green Dayís
influence. I remember just relating to a lot of the early
songs at the time with what we were going through. I love
DE: Why does Unwritten
Law have 16 ex-band members?
WY: Yeah Iíve been
through that many. I started out when I was twelve. Iíve just
been through masses of people. A lot of them sucked, we beat
the shit out of each other. I remember being a little kid
and having this vision and I just never gave up. Now it reached
it with this setting we have now. Itís been this way for a
while. Actually thereís been three stages of Unwritten Law.
The first one was really good and was punk. The second one
got kind of Clashy, Bauhausy and kind of shitty.
The third one evolved when I got with Scott [Russo]
and we started a whole new era.
DE: Wade, you started
Unwritten Law after you got your first drum kit at the age
of 12. What was that like?
WY: I actually started
Unwritten Law before I even learned how to play drums. I was
drawing the logo and drawing all these anti-cop and anti-government
pictures. Me and my friend Chris Munsey came up with
it together. My mom used to flip out "why are you drawing
these pictures of dead Vietnam soldiers?" We didnít really
know what it was about but we had this drive to do something.
It all makes sense now.
DE: With "Cailin",
was it your purpose to build a radio hit?
WY: The record label
is always constantly on you for the next single. It just gets
old. We just said, "fuck it, this is going to be our
next single". We want to do it with our own video. So
we did it ourselves and itís taken from home videos and stuff
we did. Itís just to prove to record companies that they should
leave it up to the artist more. But then again they get fired
if they do that soÖ.
DE: So you grew up
in Poway, California.
WY: Yeah, itís a shitty
redneck city that we all bloomed from--us, Blink-182
and this new band Hornswoggle. Thereís this huge generation
of music coming from there that seems to have a real feel
and a sense of community to it.
DE: Does San Diego
still have a chance to become the next Seattle?
WY: I think San Diego
has a chance, and will be the next Seattle. Thatís one thing
I do believe in.
DE: So youíre friends
with the guys from Blink-182.
WY: Yeah, we brought
them on tour with us for their first time. Weíre still friends
with them, we do shows with them but itís not like a brotherhood
thing anymore. Iím not going to talk shit, but theyíre like
on another level and they took a whole different route than
I think we are. So itís like our visions are separated.
DE: I guess itís pretty
good to be associated with them in some way, right?
WY: Yeah itís good
to have a friendship with good people.
DE: So you all live
in Hollywood now, right?
WY: I kind of live
in LA. Iím going to be moving to downtown San Diego pretty
DE: How has living
in Hollywood changed the sound of Unwritten Law?
WY: Thatís hard to
explain. I think whatís changed our sound is our experiences
that weíre going through personally with each other. But definitely
moving from city to city helps bloom your artistic creativity
because different situations strike into your sub-conscious
and come out creatively.
DE: What do you think
of the business side of music?
WY: I hate it dude.
But the further we evolve the more I have to become aware
of it because you can get screwed. It always seems like the
business side always destroys the artistic part. So itís important
to have good guys on the business side of music. Iíve just
recently become aware of that side. Iím sucking it up and
dealing with it.
DE: What was your
best live show?
WY: We had a show
in San Diego once that it was Friday the 13th.
It was the most emotional because it was the hometown. The
new record had just come out; a lot of the music was just
pouring out, a lot of personal relations. I just remember
it being supernatural. There was almost a riot and we had
to calm down the crowd, it was cool like a Doors show.
DE: What do you personally
bring to Unwritten Law?
WY: The spirit. If
there was a pentagram with five elements earth, wind, fire,
air and spirit. I would be the spirit or the heart.
DE: How did you meet
the all the people in Unwritten Law now?
WY: Itís like taking
a box of non-magnetic metal. Drop five magnets into it, shake
it up long enough and theyíll find each other.
DE: Thatís pretty
DE: What was it like
recording with Greg Graffin (Bad Religion)?
WY: Awesome, every
time we work with Greg Graffin, I love it. Itís working with
a hero. Heís always been really rad as a friend. Heís an awesome
person. Thereís not one bad thing I could say about him.
DE: So youíre touring
with Incubus right now?
WY: We did some dates
with Incubus and now weíre touring with Sum 41. Sun
41 is great, theyíre little kids jamming and they rock every
night. The crowd every night is intense. The crew is awesome
and they put up with me.
DE: You guys always
seem to have conflicts on the Warped Tour.
WY: We got kicked
off of it in Australia for starting a riot. There was food
flying and oranges everywhere. Two stage managers got hit
by oranges in the head and they started shit with Rob
[Brewer]. Rob knocked one out (laughs). In Australia
we seem to get kind of drunk.
DE: Why do you think
you guys are so big Australia?
WY: Since the beginning
our fans down there take us really seriously. Weíve been working
so long and working up a cult following there. Thereís a real
dedication to music in Australia because they donít get that
music there. They really bloom with you there.
DE: Is that where
youíve had some of your favorite shows?
WY: Yeah, definitely
down there. The energy there is phenomenal.
DE: How are Australian
fans different from American fans?
WY: I think theyíre
younger and more knowledgeable about the music. A lot less
groupies and more people there to hear the music.
DE: You must love
the groupies though.
WY: I like girls,
yeah. Groupies are a part of rock and roll. Goddamn no one
is going to bitch about that.
DE: What did John
Shanks (producer on albums by The Corrs, Michelle Branch)
bring to the album?
WY: He sucks. Thatís
all I want to say. He sucks. In big letters.
DE: Whoís producing
he did a lot of Sublime records. We found a real connection
with him. Heís kind of one of us. It helped the producing
along. He wasnít just some bigwig who weíre paying a million
dollars to come in. It worked out awesome.
DE: Whatís the craziest
thing a fan ever sent you?
WY: Anthrax. An Anthrax record
Dan Epstein is also a columnist/reporter
and a guest columnist for ifanboy.com,
a comic book website. Dan lives on the Upper West Side of
Manhattan and will never leave New York City.
Send Dan and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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