"My mother works, my father works, my brother works, and now I work ... that's all I do, it's work, work, work!"
—Guttermouth, from "God, Steve McQueen (The Work Song)"
"We're lucky and we still enjoy doing it," says Mark Adkins, singer and founding member of the fast and furious punk band Guttermouth. "We still enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, hanging out with people, and doing live shows ...getting away with the greatest accident that's ever happened."
The frontman jokes about his success as a crass but hilarious punk singer, but his perseverance and diligence must be credited for the longevity of his band. Additionally, his personal experience in the early days of Southern California's punk rock world is what keeps the snottiness and brattiness at acceptable levels.
"For me to be in this band for 20 years — and to be getting paid for it for the last 15 years — is pretty funny in itself," he laughs. "It's kind of the big joke that was never supposed to happen, and I'm glad it did. It's better than working a nine-to-five job."
Back on the road in support of a recent album titled Shave the Planet, Guttermouth is heading to the Oasis Bar and Grill on Fri. Aug. 14. With assistance from local booker Powerstroke Promotions, the band added the Charleston date to a week-long tour of Florida. They'll headline with support from Florida punk band Does It Matter, who open alongside Snatch Racket (ex-Shotguns and Casualties) and The 33's.
"We kind of pick out the key markets where we do well, and we try to hit those," Adkins says of the band's typical tours. "Going across the Midwest is a real drag, you know? Texas is okay, but the rest is pretty much garbage. We do hit these little towns in California, Nevada, and Arizona — these oddball markets that nobody goes to — we do really well, oddly enough. The fans are so much more appreciative than some of the jaded fans in the big cities where they have the music world at their doorstep."
Guttermouth officially formed in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1989. Adkins sang and shouted alongside guitarists Derek Davis and Scott Sheldon, bassist Steve Rapp (who replaced original bassist Clint Weinrich), and drummer Captain James T. Nunn. In 1990, they released a single titled "Puke," and followed with a debut LP simply called Full Length. Friendly People, released in 1994, was their first effort for new label Nitro. Their first live album, Live from the Pharmacy, appeared in 1998. After a stint on Epitaph in the early 2000s, the group landed on the Volcom Entertainment roster in 2005.
Upon the release of Shave the Planet in early 2007, music critic Corey Apar wrote of the band, "Guttermouth have always been ridiculously crude, sarcastic, and politically incorrect. But unlike their recently cause-driven kinsmen, Mark Adkins and crew never really stray from the schoolboy idiocies of their past for even vaguely serious stabs at political or societal musings."
The sarcasm and aggression never tipped the band into pure negativity, though. Perhaps a degree of youthful innocence remains. Adkins actually did discover punk rock as a school boy. In eighth grade in 1978, he dug into the initial L.A. punk scene as it gathered steam — from Orange County to Hollywood.
"I didn't really like music until I discovered punk from a friend," he remembers. "Prior to that, my parents had this old jukebox in the side room filled with disco hits. They were discotheque addicts, and they had these weird disco parties where they and their friends would dance and get stoned. I was subjected to that for a long time. And some of my classmates would wear Led Zeppelin shirts. It just didn't work with me. But the punk stuff clicked, and I've hung on to it ever since."
The hardcore side of things in L.A. and the more severe punk cranking from New York and the U.K. attracted his full attention.
"The Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and F-Word were coming out ... and all the bands who made one seven-inch and then vanished," he says. "I got lucky. I was in the hub there, and I saw every band you could imagine."
The current Guttermouth roster includes Adkins, Justin Van Westbrook on bass, longtime member Ryan Farrell on drums, and Dave Luckett and Hunter Munich (filling in for Brandon Zinkil) on guitars. Adkins assures that they're as undistracted by the state of the music biz as ever, and maintain their classic mix of on-stage spazziness, emotive vocal delivery, and a blistering pace.
"There's so much outside noise and factors that tainted punk along the way," says Adkins. "When we started, we were what you'd call 'punk purists,' you know? We knew what we knew from the bands that we saw, and we kind of emulated them with our own little style to it.
"But the outside noise that interferes is usually labels who want you to come in and record for them; the noise that taints everything is money," he adds. "Suddenly, you're getting paid to make records, which is like, 'Whoa!' Then you're putting more thought into something that didn't deserve the thought. The early punk songs didn't deserve that much thought because it just came naturally out of circumstance."