- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

Thanks to the popularity of their newest album, "All Killer No Filler," pop-punk foursome Sum 41 headlines their first tour, which invades the 9:30 Club tomorrow night. The band's "Fat Lip" single recently topped Billboard's Modern Rock chart and the CD is enjoying a healthy run on Billboard's album chart.
Sum 41's opening act, the California-based rockers Unwritten Law, have been playing and touring together since 1994. The band's high-profile gigs have included sets on the Warped Tour and at the Gravity Games. And with a new label (Interscope) and a fuller, more developed sound on their new album, "Elva," due in stores Nov. 6, perhaps their turn at the top of the bill is not far away.
Unlike their three previous releases, lead singer Scott Russo wrote almost all of the songs on "Elva." Guitarist Rob Brewer says having Mr. Russo handle songwriting duties helped make the album and its recording a much smoother process.
"It's a lot easier for us as a band to just roll with it and bring out the music Scott's envisioned. It's certainly more organized that way and the album is just more cohesive when there's someone who has the overall idea of what he wants to do," Mr. Brewer says.
"This one came out really good. We're really excited about it because it's been a while since we put out a record and we're all real anxious to get out and start playing again."
The band shot the video for the first single, "Up All Night," earlier this month. The song, pumped up by UL founder Wade Youngman's dexterous drumming and fortified with hooks and bass lines from Mr. Brewer and guitarist Steve Morris and bassist Pat Kim, showcases the band's fun, raucous side.
"It's the single we wanted to start with," says Mr. Brewer, hinting at the band's struggle to see eye to eye with their previous label while promoting their last self-titled album. "Cailin," UL's first and only big radio hit from that release, wouldn't have been released at all had the band not believed in its potential enough to hire an independent promoter to market the song to radio stations such as Los Angeles' influential KROQ.
"This time around, it's been a little different because we know what we want to do," Mr. Brewer says about promoting "Elva" and its singles. "If you want to get a song on radio and continue to have it there, you need to have video support and be out on the road touring. Nobody sells any records sitting at home."
Playing live, Mr. Brewer says, is what they do best and UL fans agree, praising the band on their Internet fan sites for its ability to rock a crowd. "They put on the best damn live show you could ever see," says Mike Johansen of Santa Barbara on his online tribute page to UL. "I've never seen a band with so much energy."
"We like playing shows with no barricades, with people right up against the stage so we can interact with the crowd," Mr. Brewer says. "Bigger bands get so used to playing big venues, they forget how much fun live shows really are."
After the set, be sure to pick up an Unwritten Law special edition T-shirt. Proceeds will be donated to the Sept. 11 relief effort.

Tenacious D Jack Black and Kyle Gass have described themselves as the "greatest band on earth" and "the greatest band in history." One is almost tempted to believe such claims, especially after reading the A-list of names Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, the Dust Brothers and Phish's Page McConnell backing them up on their brand-new and long-awaited self-titled debut album. Then again, Mr. Black once described "the D" to a magazine as "Smothers Brothers meets Cheech and Chong meets Beavis and Butthead."
Whatever they are, Tenacious D know how to rock harder than any two gut-endowed white guys over 30 you know.
If you haven't heard of Tenacious D (the duo had a brief run on HBO a couple of years ago), you've probably heard of Jack Black, the scene-stealing record clerk in the movie "High Fidelity" who surprised you with his wicked-good rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." Tenacious D does much the same by fooling you into thinking they're just some novelty joke actor-band, with song titles such as "Kielbasa," "Inward Singing" and "Karate Schnitzel" and then blow your mind with some top-notch guitar playing and decent harmonies. The music itself Cuisinarts the excesses of Seventies rock with ROTFL (chat-room speak for Rolling On The Floor Laughing) lyrics. Even if irony is as dead as they say these days, the D will surely rock on.
Tenacious D plays the 9:30 Club Saturday night.

The 9:30 Club isn't the only venue rocking this week. Tomorrow night the techtronica trio Bis takes over the Black Cat. Coming off a two-year absence for its third full-length CD, "Return to Central," Bis has reinvigorated its sound, trading polished pop for expansive dynamics, best heard on tracks such as "What You're Afraid Of" and "Protection." You might be more familiar with Bis' music than you thought: the alarm on Casio's G-Shock watch is a Bis sample and the band also wrote the end theme for the popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon "The Powerpuff Girls."


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