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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 a dress.

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 exactly punky.

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.

DE: How?

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 them

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 soon though.

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 good.

WY: Thanks.

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 you now?

WY: McGill, 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 I mean.

— Dan Epstein is also a columnist/reporter for davidfincher.net 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 danepstein75@hotmail.com

 

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