Author: Susan Proctor
Guttermouth headlined Warfest’s afternoon of punk on July 12 at The Gaslamp in Long Beach, CA. A good size crowd was already in place when The Walking Toxins took the stage at 3 pm. Rounding out the lineup were Chemical X, Brigadiers and Terminally Ill each of whom brought their unique twist to the punk rock show. The fans, circle pits and sing alongs were well underway by the time Guttermouth took the stage and kicked it up a notch. Lead singer Mark Adkins engaged the crowd and took what he saw and heard from the pit to deliver thoughtful, intellectual banter rivaling any stand up comedian. Just prior to their set, By the Barricade interviewed Mark, the animated and often outspoken front man who talks about his views on music and some current social issues. Fans of Guttermouth will not be surprised at his uncensored insights and opinions.
By the Barricade: Because a lot of our readers are in up and coming bands we like to ask some questions about your beginnings. I read that when you were about 14 when you started going to shows. What was it that kept you going and influenced your start into punk music?
Mark Adkins: The lack of interest in any other music. Everything else was so mundane and boring and just contrived shit. I now like classic rock and can listen to it all day long and some of the other punk bands I listened to as a kid, I can’t listen to anymore. It’s just unlistenable. At the time it was vice versa. My parents were disco people and they listened to that and classic rock like crazy. My dad was an electronics guru and rebuilt jukeboxes and we’d have them in our house. They had a 7” of every hit song on the radio so like most people, you go against your parents. I did and that was my outlet simple as that. But it kind of comes full circle.
By the Barricade Was there a scene within that punk music that made you want to be a part of it? Were you doing music before you started listening to it?
Mark Adkins No, I wasn’t doing music before. It was the ethic that anyone could do it. So many of the bands were so shity way back when, that anyone could do it. I rented my first guitar didn’t know how to tune it, didn’t know you needed a pick, didn’t know anything. But I was in a band immediately. We were horrible. I was fired quickly as well. Very quickly.
By the Barricade: But you kept at.
Mark Adkins: I did, but I’m obviously not a guitar player.
By the Barricade: How did the name Guttermouth come about?
Mark Adkins: The original drummer thought it was funny. We didn’t care. No one in the band cared. No one wanted to do this for anything other than screwing off but then other people started taking us seriously. He thought of the name, we said, “Yeah, whatever that’s fine,” and now we are stuck with it.
By the Barricade: Your article from last summer in Faster Louder made me laugh hysterically. It proves that today’s version of Warped Tour is not the type of place where a punk band can speak their mind. Is there a tour that holds true to these ideals?
Mark Adkins: Well there’s a hierarchy in punk and certain voices rule the roost. If you go against them, you are going to be ostracized from the so called scene. Anytime one of these bands that were in the hierarchy would spout one of the political tirades of BS, I would definitely go against it to rock the boat. It was fun. There is no forum for that anymore. People take everything a little too seriously.
By the Barricade: Which is very anti-punk and its DIY, express yourself, speak what you think.
Mark Adkins: Yes, my old booking agent and I still keep in touch. She is a huge proponent of letting all of these illegals from Central America in the country. Me, I’m a staunch, no fucking way! I don’t give a shit about breaking up families, I don’t care one bit. If you’re breaking the law, you’re breaking the law. If I break the law for drinking and driving, I’m getting busted. Do I get off? No! Should they get off for being illegal aliens and not being allowed in this country? There are laws. Not that I agree with all of them, but who am I; a mere voice that just flaps his lips and gets nowhere. But you can say some things that people will listen to. You can make a change locally, not globally or nationally, it’s impossible.
By the Barricade: You sort of alluded to this with immigration, but if you were to use this interview as your platform, what would you want people to know now?
Mark Adkins: Immigration has always been a huge one for me. I volunteered for Jim Gilchrist who was the founder of the Minuteman Project on the borders. He was running for the U.S. State Assembly out of San Diego. I volunteered for his campaign for six months. Worked my ass off and he lost because there are so many liberals out of Northern California. I’m not a Republican because of their religious shit. They are suffering as a party because the young people do not want religion in their lives and it makes sense. It’s a bunch of cockamamie bullshit. But, I believe in everything else: Keeping your money, smaller government. Obama has been a train wreck human turd. That is the only way I can describe him. Granted, George Bush wasn’t much better but Obama has done nothing and his mandatory health care shit is crap. It is a choice. Although I do agree with mandatory auto insurance with which I am contradicting myself. It’s like the helmet laws for motorcycles. You eat shit on your bike and crack your head open, you’re going to be a drain on the state. I don’t like people who are a drain on the state. I buy my own health insurance, I buy my own everything. I take care of myself. So many people feel entitled to so much, like health insurance. People should make their own choices; government is not here to make choices for you…at all.
By the Barricade: What is your current inspiration for song material?
Mark Adkins: It just pops into my head.
By the Barricade: You guys are known for spontaneity for example you don’t do set lists.
Mark Adkins: Completely. We had this Japanese dude out the other night who plays the ukulele. Generally, the Japanese are very rigid in their business practices and what not. He asked what he was playing and what he was doing and we told him he’d figure it out. It just worked out. He was pretty surprised, but that’s how we do everything.
By the Barricade: A lot of your onstage persona and antics would be difficult to capture in a studio album. How do you try to capture the essence of who you are when recording?
Mark Adkins: When you are singing a song for a record is a lot of fun. You can’t translate the two they do not mesh at all. It’s great when you see a band that you really like. We’ll throw STYX in the equation. I saw them at this festival that I call Obesity Festival. It’s for these 50 year olds and it’s disturbing. They (STYX) are so good. They sound just like their records. I’m more open-minded now to music and you kind of have to be; it’s interesting. The majority of punk music is crap.
By the Barricade: Are you referring to production quality?
Mark Adkins: Production value doesn’t mean much to me, it’s the song writing and the structure of the songs. A lot of bands do a really horrible job of that. Like what you are listening to right now, is this pleasing to the ear? Are you going to drive down to the supermarket to pick up a half gallon of milk while listening to this and not want to stick an icepick in your neck? I’d rather listen to Bob Segar, that doesn’t make you want to strangle your children. Who wants to do that?
Punk is so passé now, I hate to say that, but it has been around a lot longer than I ever thought it should be. In England while doing a tour of the UK in 1999 or so, I ran into a girl who said, “I’m angry every day, everyday sucks, I’m pissed at the government.” I asked what she was pissed about? I told her the style of music she was worshiping died when her parents did. You are a young kid who doesn’t know anything. Music doesn’t change anything. Here on the wall it says, “Music is my religion,” –Jimi Hendrix. Wow, that’s really moving. Is it? No. “Let there be rock” –AC/DC, who gives a shit. Do those quotes make people better people or help them move forward or do anything? No. I’m jaded because I’ve seen so much, I’ve been through so much, so I’ve seen so many bands try to do something someone else is doing and the reason I still do this is because I enjoy it. I like doing it and for me this is the ultimate way to live. To travel around the world and sing songs you find mildly amusing and keep going. If you are trying to change the world through music, good luck. The hippies did not stop Vietnam. Sorry, they didn’t. Mamas and the Papas did not. Though Michelle Phillips could do it on her own because she was hot when she was thin.
Mark Adkins: There are two. A live one, and a studio one. They are coming when they are done, but we have a deadline of the 18th for the live one and we don’t have a deadline yet for the other one. But it’s happening… finally! Most of the props go to Justin (VanWestbroek) for making it happen.
By the Barricade: Anything else you would like to tell the By the Barricade readers?
Mark Adkins: I go back on forth on this, I used to say before you join a band finish college, then I changed my mind. Now I am back to finish college again, get a master’s degree and then go into music. I want the best for people so get a master’s degree in something you are remotely interested in because you are going to change. The problem with a lot of college kids is that they pick a major at 18 or 19 and they are done around age 22. They don’t know what they are going to do with their lives. It’s a big mistake but life is a crapshoot. We have been lucky. Music is luck, timing and both of those coming together.
By the Barricade: If you were to do your life differently would you?
Mark Adkins: There are a few things I’d do different when I look back but it wouldn’t change where I am at today. With that I am happy to be here and this is what we do.