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Members include Mark Adkins(born c. 1967), vocals; Derek Davis, guitar; Jamie Nunn (born c. 1970; left group, 2002), drums, bass; Steve Rapp (group member, 1995-98), bass; Scott Sheldon, guitar; Tyler Smith, drums. Addresses: Record company--Epitaph Records, 2798 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026, website: http://www.epitaph.com. Website--Guttermouth Official Website: http://www.xxx-guttermouth-xxx.com.
Hailing from the suburbs of Orange County, California, Guttermouth have openly courted controversy since their inception in 1989. Lead singer Mark Adkins has been arrested on charges of indent exposure and inciting a riot, and the entire band was kicked off a 1997 Vans Warped tour after they distributed shots of Jack Daniels to underage fans. Through it all, Guttermouth have continued touring and releasing albums, including their ninth full-length release, Gusto, out in 2002. Its members have also refused to tone down their controversial lyrics and stage antics, despite the series of confrontations with law enforcement officials. "I think it's all a big misunderstanding," Adkins explained in an October 2002 interview with Melbourne, Australia's Herald Sun. "The biggest problem in the world today is interpretation, people interpreting what other people do, say, and write. You know what I'm talkin' about here? I'm very misunderstood."
The members of Guttermouth grew up in the Orange County suburbs of Brea and La Habra, just west of Los Angeles. Each of them embraced the Southern California punk movement of the early 1980s and as teenagers began playing in various bands. They were drawn not only to the music but to the energy, anger, and rebelliousness that it allowed them to express. It also helped them to deal with unsettled home lives and tensions with their parents. As Adkins explained in an interview with the Chico News & Review website in July of 2001, "Man, I just want to do everything 180 degrees from my parents. I don't want to become an alcoholic. I don't want to get trapped in a monotonous job, and I don't want to get married and divorced. I don't want to do any of those negatives that they did. So when my parents got divorced when I was 15, the first thing I discovered was freedom. And the music thing eventually just fell into place."
The original lineup of Guttermouth included Adkins as vocalist, Derek Davis and Scott Sheldon on guitars, Steve Rapp on bass, and Jamie Nunn on drums. Nunn later switched to bass when Rapp left the group and Tyler Smith joined on drums. Nunn also left the group in 2002. The group spent its first years building a following around Southern California and releasing an album, Full Length, on independent label Dr. Strange in 1992. During this period most of Guttermouth's members continued to work day jobs to support the band's efforts. Adkins worked as a fire sprinkler installer, Davis had a job as a carpenter, and Smith worked in the warehouse of a pornographic film distributor.
Guttermouth's first big break came after the group had been playing together for five years and resulted from the band's friendship with another Orange County group, the Offspring. Fronted by Dexter Holland, the Offspring became one of the first alternative bands to gain national attention after the breakthrough of Nirvana in the early 1990s. Holland used his unexpected success to start his own independent label, Nitro Records, and signed Guttermouth to a recording contract. The band stayed with Holland's label for its next six releases, beginning with Friendly People in 1994. Guttermouth also continued to tour with the Offspring and gained an international fan base, especially in Australia. "You guys like to party, we like to party," Adkins told Neala Johnson of Melbourne's Herald Sun in October of 2001. "It's like a match made in the pub."
Often compared to the Offspring, Green Day, and Blink 182, Guttermouth took their punk credentials seriously. In addition to their rapid-fire, stripped-down songs, Guttermouth's concerts highlighted the antics of lead singer Adkins, who sometimes appeared in women's clothing and shouted controversial statements at the crowd. "You never know what's going to happen," Adkins explained in an interview with the Synthesis website. "Some nights you get a good crowd. We kind of feed off of the crowd, and they do the same with us. Sometimes you just click. Both things just click and interesting stuff happens. You just never know what's gonna go down. There's always the chance that you'll get a dead crowd, like in Oklahoma, or something. Because they don't understand English practically. All that inbreeding kind of makes for a weird show." Not everyone was won over by Adkins's attitude. Sandy Masuo of the Los Angeles Times summed up a May 1996 concert by the group: "It quickly became clear that the band lacked the savvy to accurately aim its sneering attack at anything.... What Guttermouth fails to understand is that without a sense of purpose, invective is nothing more than puerile ranting that obscures the music accompanying it, no matter how proficient."
Guttermouth faced more than unkind reviews as it released a series of albums on Nitro Records through the 1990s. On June 25, 1995, the group had to cut short its set at a punk rock music festival in Devore, California, after Adkins allegedly called for the crowd to attack the security staff guarding the stage. Adkins admitted that he had criticized the security staff for roughing up the audience, but he denied going any further. Adkins was held on suspicion of inciting a riot and a misdemeanor charge of assault, and the group canceled its next two performances. After Adkins's release, Guttermouth continued to tour and the charges were dismissed in June of 1996.
In 1997 the group again courted controversy when it offered free shots of Jack Daniels with the purchase of one of its T-shirts at the Vans Warped music tour. After underage audience members--some allegedly as young as eleven years old--received the alcohol, security guards tried to shut down Guttermouth's merchandise stand. After a physical confrontation between the guards and Guttermouth's fans, the band was ejected from the tour. It was welcomed back a few years later, but the incident added to the band's reputation for causing trouble.
Another concert-related incident on March 21, 1998, at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, resulted in Adkins facing charges of indecent exposure. Adkins had stripped off his clothes during the concert and had allegedly encouraged an underage audience member to take her clothes off as well. Adkins insisted that the incident was part of a harmless magic trick called "the disappearing penis," but Canadian authorities took the matter seriously enough to arrest him. The day after the concert, Adkins was arrested and deported from Canada, causing the remainder of Guttermouth's Canadian dates to be canceled. The band did not return to the country for another two years.
In 2001 Guttermouth signed to Epitaph, another punk label with greater marketing resources than the smaller Nitro label. Its first release on the new label, 2001's Covered with Ants, had a more pop-oriented sound, though its lyrics and themes remained as aggressively crass as ever with songs such as "Chug-A-Lug Night" and "Cram It Up Your Ass." As Davis told a Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service reporter in June of 2001 about the latter song, "That's supposed to be the one that sticks in your head, that you remember forever. You're humming it and whistling it, and you don't even know why. It's a love song."
Despite breaking his foot during a San Diego concert in 2001, Adkins and the band remained on the road for several months to promote Covered with Ants. They returned to the studio to record their second album for Epitaph, Gusto, in 2002. With songs like "Foot Long" and "Pee in the Shower," Gusto demonstrated that the band was sticking to the formula that it had developed over its past eight albums. As Adkins summarized the band's progress on the Epitaph website, "We were just one of many little bands who sang songs from the heart and did it because we weren't into the status quo bullsh** that was going on musically. We chose to sing about real stuff."
by Timothy Borden
Group formed in Huntington Beach, CA, 1989; released first album, Full Length, 1994; canceled Canadian tour after lead singer arrested for committing an indecent act, 1998; released Gusto, 2002.
- Selected discography
- Full Length Dr. Strange, 1992.
- Friendly People Nitro, 1994.
- Teri Yakimoto Nitro, 1996.
- The Album Formerly Known As a Full-Length LP Nitro, 1996.
- Musical Monkey Nitro, 1997.
- Live from the Pharmacy Nitro, 1998.
- Gorgeous Nitro, 1999.
- Covered with Ants Epitaph, 2001.
- Gusto Epitaph, 2002.
- Albuquerue Journal, December 7, 2001, p. 18.
- Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), October 25, 2001, p. 43.
- Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 18, 2001.
- Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1996, p. 6; June 28, 1996, p. 6.
- San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 1998, p. E5.
- "Armed (with Beer) and Dangerous," Chico News & Review, http://www.newsreview.com/issues/chico/2001-07-19/music.asp (July 10, 2002).
- "Guttermouth: Gusto," Epitaph Records, http://www.epitaph.com/bands/index.php?id=94 (July 10, 2002).
- "Gutter Punk," Synthesis, http://www.synthesis.net/music/feature.php?pid=145 (July 10, 2002).
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