SAN DIEGO — Unwritten Law have some advice for anyone planning a visit to Yellowstone National Park: "Stay out of the river naked. They don't like that."
The group was recently there to shoot an upcoming episode of MTV's "Music in High Places," which puts artists in exotic locales for acoustic performances. "It was totally amazing," guitarist Rob Brewer said Sunday, prior to a hometown performance at the San Diego Street Scene. "It's a beautiful place, and we were really feelin' the songs."
Everything was going smoothly until the band performed a song that didn't require drummer Wade Youman. "We wanted to get Wade into the scene somehow," Brewer said. "There was a river right behind us, so we told him to go out fly fishing on the river. We thought it'd be cool for the scene, you know, kind of the nature vibe. But it was Wade we were talking about, so we kind of knew something was going to happen.
"So the shoot starts and we're playing the song and Wade kind of disappears from the frame and then he walks back into the frame butt-naked and starts walking out into the river and doing naked handstands and stuff. The whole time we were being supervised by a Yellowstone park ranger, and she was not amused at all. As soon as they said 'Cut!' they had Wade off to the side, writing him a ticket. And they held us there for like an hour while they checked Wade's record and searched his bags and just did the full shakedown."
It's not the first time the band has found trouble while looking for fun. Several years ago Unwritten Law were booted from the Australian leg of the Warped Tour for engaging the crowd in a massive food fight, and more recently the band redecorated a house only to find out that the homeowner didn't like the beer-bottle-and-pizza-box motif.
While working on their fourth album, Elva, the guys rented a house in Los Angeles where they could hang out and write songs. The lyrics to "Up All Night," Unwritten Law's latest radio hit, give an indication of what that experience was like, though Brewer sums it up more succinctly: "We basically partied and got nothing done."
"That song, it's a story about living in that house, and that song was one of the only songs that came out of that house. We never went to bed while we were in L.A. the whole time, and there were people partying at our house all the time. It was pretty crazy. We had something like a $15,000 bill from trash and damages. We had a huge Halloween party in there and the place got totally destroyed."
Unwritten Law have had a video for "Up All Night" in the bag for some time, since it was supposed to be the first single from January's Elva. But they weren't happy with how the clip came out and ended up favoring "Seein' Red" as an opening salvo anyway. A re-edited version of the "Up All Night" clip has now been released.
"It's really mostly just a live performance video," Brewer explained of the revised clip. "There was supposed to be a concept that went along with it of us being in the middle of a society full of glamour and Hollywood false things — like false people and images that you find in some of the Hollywood areas we've had to work in. It was the director's vision of us to be our own rebellious selves in the middle of all this happening, but to us it just didn't really translate on video."
"Up All Night" is currently #14 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, where "Seein' Red" recently held the top spot for four straight weeks. The band's promotional push behind the new track was put on hold late last month when UL's other guitarist, Steve Morris, suffered hearing damage from a bomb made by an angry neighbor (see "Unwritten Law Guitarist Injured In Alleged Bomb Attack"). The band canceled a few shows but recently began playing again.
"Obviously health is a priority and we wanted to make sure his ears were OK before we went and made a bunch of loud music," Brewer said. "We're fortunate that he didn't really get hurt too badly. He got a little bit of fluid on his eardrum when it initially happened, and he got a concussion, but he's cool. He's got these specially filtered earplugs that take out a lot of the high, damaging sounds and still leave like a clarity so he can play."
Unwritten Law will continue to tour the U.S. through September before heading to Australia in October; among their Stateside dates will be the KROQ Inland Invasion show with the Sex Pistols and Bad Religion (see "Sex Pistols To Play First U.S. Show In Six Years"). Their episode of "Music in High Places" is scheduled to debut on October 25.