Any self-respecting alt-teen in the early ’90s fell into one of two camps: the punks or the poseurs.
The punks were, of course, the true rebels of the courtyard, dressed in torn denim vests adorned with homemade patches, trading bootleg tapes of Propaghandi, Anti-Flag and Guttermouth, ever so secure that punk would never die, man. The poseur kids, on the other hand, were relentlessly mocked for their Green Day shirts and Offspring CDs, well aware there was no substance to any of their fandom.
It’s now 20 years later, and for many of us, time and maturity have erased those lines of derision. But as the former rebellious youths grew up, settled down, got married and had babies, those formerly important punk bands faded into obscurity while a mainstream group like Green Day found success on Broadway. The era of indie punk was dead, except for Guttermouth.
Like the lone warrior of a musical wasteland long lost, guitarist Mark Adkins and crew patrol the outer rim, still bringing that unaffected message of punk rock rebellion to whoever isn’t pop-culturally brainwashed enough to listen.
The Southern California band, formed in 1988, achieved minor success in the early ’90s when it was lumped into the pop-punk facade. To this day, it still pisses them off.
“When punk got popular in the mid-’90s, it was because radio was shoving Offspring and Green Day down people’s throats and telling them it was punk,” Adkins said. “It could’ve been N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and if they were told it was punk, they would’ve believed them. The average consumer is pretty stupid.”
On the road and recording their first album since 2006’s Shave the Planet, Guttermouth has kept itself in the spotlight by staying true to its take-no-prisoners attitude, something that led the band to being thrown off the Vans Warped Tour in 2004 for mocking emo bandits Yellowcard and My Chemical Romance.
To Adkins, what’s truly heartbreaking is how, over the past 20 years, he has seen what started out as a good time explode like a holiday in the sun into a multibillion-dollar industry that eschews every well-fought and hard-earned punk ethic in favor of making a quick buck.
“We were just messing around and having fun, and people started to take it serious, and it was because labels found out they could make money off of it,” Adkins said. “It became a business. There’s a million bands out there preaching something, but there’s no messages being heard anywhere. From the newest punk band to the recent Black Flag reunion, who’s really listening to what they’re saying?”
While he jokingly said Guttermouth “wings it” each album, Adkins gets serious when writing music, trying to ensure his message in an increasingly homogenous world is heard as loud and as proud as possible in every city the boys stop in.