California punk rock icons Unwritten Law have been cranking out the jams and destroying stages for more than 30 years, and they're nowhere near stopping. In July 2022, the band dropped their most recent album, The Hum, an 18-song journey that is as tender as it is raucous. Additionally, among the track list are a handful of new renditions — dubbed "The Hum Sessions" — of some of the band's most fan-loved tracks, such as "Seein' Red" and "Celebration Song."
As part of the epic project, the band worked with film production team Make A Thing to put together an incredible short film, titled "The Hum." The film stars Teen Wolf actor Tyler Posey and model Tehya Elam as an ill-fated couple who find themselves caught up in the wonderment of false reality which leads to the crumbling of their lives in the real world. Recently, PopCulture.com had a chance to chat with Unwritten Law guitarist Chris Lewis about the new project, and we asked him all about The Hum album and short film, as well as the band's upcoming West Coast tour featuring Zebrahead, Authority Zero, and Tony Lovato of Mest. Scroll down to check out our conversation.
PopCulture: The short film for The Hum is such a compelling sci-fi concept. When it comes to the storyline, were there any specific sci-fi books, movies, or shows that helped inspire the idea?
Chris Lewis: The director, Joseph – who is Scott's brother and co-owner of the production team (Make A Thing) who put this together – and I are both huge sci-fi fans. From Asimov and Herbert to Star Wars, we're both in love with the idea of creating universes. Universes with their own lore, laws, physics, even slang. Universes that create a feeling of complete reality. When we started brainstorming the concept for the film, it was pretty obviously a social commentary on the state of social media, politics, and truth as a whole, but then it evolved into this whole other thing that had backstory and depth. We knew we weren't going to be able to convey 100% of what we wanted to in just a short music video, so Joseph ended up storyboarding an entire album's worth of music videos to tell the whole story. When it became clear we weren't going to be able to pull all that off, Joseph wrote a condensed version that included some teasers and trailers and had additional information about the universe where this story takes place. It really takes little details from all of our favorites. I don't think we're done with it yet.
PC: Did the band have a prior relationship with Tyler Posey before he starred in the short film? Was he always the person you wanted in that role?
CL: We knew who Tyler was and heard through a mutual friend that he was a long-time fan. During San Diego Comic-Con, I saw that he was in town promoting his upcoming film and I hit him up to see if he wanted to hang out. He had already left town, so I just asked him if he would be interested in shooting some scenes for a music video and he responded that he was all in. We got together for lunch one day to talk about the film and ended up having one of the most amazing conversations. He's one of the most down-to-earth, sweetest guys ever.
PC: As I understand it, this new album was not your first time working with Joe Marlett, but — unless I'm mistaken — it was your first time working with him in a full-band, studio album format. What was it about Joe that made him a producer you were eager to work with? And what did he bring to the recording/mixing that helped form what the album became?
CL: Joe was the guy we brought in to finish production on our last release, Acoustic. The process was so enjoyable that it just made sense to have him produce the new record. Joe and my friendship predates my time in Unwritten Law. I worked with him in both Fenix TX and Denver Harbor and knew very well how he worked. His skill at crafting sonics, keeping the vibe going, and his attention to detail in the mix are some things you just can't teach. He also was as passionate as we were for the project, which is hard to come by these days.
PC: The Hum Sessions versions of "Celebration Song," "Seein' Red," and "Save Me..." Was it always the plan to cut new versions of these tracks? Or was it something that you decided to do once you were in the studio?
CL: We were set up and about done with drums when we started talking about re-recording the tracks, and it just made sense. We play all the songs slightly different as this incarnation of the band, so it just felt right to put those versions out into the world.
PC: What can fans expect from your upcoming January shows? Is this the first time you've toured with any of the accompanying bands?
CL: We've played with these bands before and consider every one friends. I think that's what we want more than anything these days. We're all family people and what better way to keep that feeling when you're on tour than by surrounding yourself with friends? That's the dream. Do what you love with people you love who share the same values.
PC: This last one isn't a question but I just wanted to say that "Murder Days" and "Chrome and Glass" are two of my absolute favorite songs from the past year!
CL: That's awesome! Thank you! Fun fact time: I wrote the main riff for "Murder Days" around 1998 for my first band, Pivit. I also played drums on "Chrome and Glass" in the studio. That one is near and dear to my heart.