A stalwart and influential Los Angeles punk outfit founded by members of All, Dag Nasty, Chemical People, D.Y.S., and Clawhammer, Down by Law never reached the commercial heights scaled by contemporaries like Pennywise and the Offspring, but their lethal blend of melody and D.I.Y. punk attitude won them a huge underground following in the '90s via stand-out albums like Blue, Punkrockacademyfightsong, and All Scratched Up! After taking a break from the studio in 2003 that lasted for nearly a decade, the band returned with 2012's Champions at Heart, which did little to tarnish their reputation as elite purveyors of classic melodic hardcore and pop-punk.
Following his departure from All after the group's first two albums under that name, vocalist/guitarist Dave Smalley (also formerly of Dag Nasty) put together Down by Law in 1991 with ex-Clawhammer guitarist Chris Bagarozzi and the former Chemical People rhythm section of Ed Urlik (bass) and Dave Nazworthy (drums). This lineup remained together only for Down by Law's sophomore effort, 1992's Blue; when the follow-up, 1994's Punkrockacademyfightsong, appeared, Smalley had reconstituted the band with guitarist Sam Williams III (ex-Balance and Slap of Reality), bassist Angry John DiMambro (ex-Clay Idols and Leonards), and drummer Hunter Oswald. The LP spawned a pair of hits in "Hit or Miss" and a high-octane cover of the Proclaimers' "500 Miles." This lineup remained stable, save for the drum chair, which was occupied by Danny Westman on 1996's acclaimed All Scratched Up! and Chris Lagerborg on 1997's Last of the Sharpshooters. In 1999, the group issued their fifth and last album for Epitaph, Fly the Flag. When the Union Records-issued Windwardtidesandwaywardsails dropped in 2003, original drummer Nazworthy was back in the fold, but it would be the last studio LP from the group for nine years. In 2009, after a lengthy hiatus, Down by Law reconvened for a North and South American tour, and in 2011 they announced that they had inked a deal with DC Jam Records, who put out the full-length Champions at Heart the following year. Revolution Time, a seven-track mini-album, arrived in 2013, with All In, the band's eighth studio long player, appearing in 2018 on Cleopatra Records. ~ Steve Huey