Mark Adkins of California punk legends Guttermouth has a pertinent question for the music industry – “where’s the substance?” Actually, it’s something Adkins has been dying to know now for almost a decade, but hopefully with his band working on a brand new album, that’s all about to change real soon.
“Rise Against and Against Me and all these people, it all sounds the same!” Adkins bravely complains. “Why is there no substance at all? All I’m hearing is the same songs coming from different bands and everyone even seems to be singing the same! Don’t tell me it’s not a trend – and this is not what punk rock is about. We were just driving up to San Francisco last weekend, and one of our guys in the band is really into that kind of crap, and I had to put earplugs in, man! I’m like, ‘Is this one hour song done or what?’ I’m sorry, but I enjoy variety,” he muses.
According to Adkins, Guttermouth are indeed working diligently on just that. With about six songs currently completed, there’s still a way to go, but the singer promises what’s already in the bag will get a hearing during the band’s Australian tour.
“We’ve been forced physically to play these songs live… people just won’t let us leave the stage until they hear them,” claims Adkins. “It’s very flattering, for sure, but we’re also kind of like, ‘Guys we’re still learning them too!’” he laughs.
“Sure I’ve been nervous about it,” he explains when pondering the accepting of Guttermouth’s new material, “because we weren’t at all super-well rehearsed because we’ve been on the road all the time… so you’re expected to pull it off all of a sudden! But we pulled some stuff out of our ass that we didn’t practice and it actually sounded perfect, so we won,” he chuckles.
“You know, sometimes it’s those times when you find yourself on the spot that shit really turns out to be some of the best stuff you’ve ever played. We’re playing harder, faster punk music because that’s where it’s at – not this crappy weird shit you’re hearing everywhere else. I really like the direction this one’s heading in – I feel like it’s a regression back to the harder days of Guttermouth.”
And while Adkins sounds genuinely excited about the forthcoming record, he also expresses a sense of hopelessness about the art of recording an album in the first place.
“Sure we’ve got a record coming up, but why do you release a record anyway?” he queries rhetorically. “Why would you actually make hard discs anymore… What, just to put them up for sale in all of two CD stores left on Earth?
“It’s almost a waste to make them,” he shrugs. “It pisses me off that people complain that you don’t get value for your money on an entire album anymore. Everyone just bitches and moans and whines about how it’s a singles world these days… Well, guess what, that’s because people can’t be bothered to put more than three good songs on their entire album! Why should we buy the crap?” he laughs.
“So yeah, I totally agree, but I also think bands only have themselves to blame too. Maybe if the music was better, you’d have more than a few good songs under your belt. Try a little harder.”
In fact, Adkins is so over the politics that come with music that he’s turned his focus on the other kind – to do with his local Los Angeles community. While he admits that his heart is still very much in Guttermouth, he claims that it’s hard to limit his passions to just one area.
“I’m over the music politics. In the ‘90s and early 2000s everything just became so homogenised and boring, that’s when everyone started sounding exactly the same. I gave up. It really made me sick, I didn’t even feel like making another record. In some ways it was partly because all I could hear was crap music all around me that got me motivated to even do another record. I think people deserve some substance,” he argues.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time now and I think we still represent what punk rock is supposed to be... And it’s not about the clothes you wear or some kind of twisted dress code, let me tell you. Dude, if you’ve got a spiky Mohawk, wear a leather jacket and Doc Martens in 2010, then you’ve got problems. I’ve been doing this for a long time and there’s no dress code. It’s about feeling and making a change in the world, and that’s why I volunteer in my community rather than worry about who’s wearing what. It’s not very punk.”
What is very punk is Guttermouth’s upcoming month-long tour of Australia which will all be recorded by Brisbane filmmaker Rhys Day for a forthcoming documentary of the band. An insight into the chaotic world of Guttermouth, Adkins jokes he never thought he’d be a reality TV star.
“I’m going to come out to Australia about a week and a half earlier than the rest of the band,” announces the singer. “I’ll have to meet up with Rhys and scrip out some stuff, but for the most part it’s just going to be the cameras rolling and us doing what we do normally. God, it’s kind of like reality TV isn’t it? I don’t care though, I just want people to come out and party with us and I want it all caught on film.”
GUTTERMOUTH play a whole bunch of shows in and around Melbourne this week – they’re at Pier Live, Frankston on Friday October 15, Ding Dong Lounge on Saturday October 16 (tickets through oztix.com.au), The Ferntree Gully Hotel on October 17, and The National Hotel, Geelong on October 18.