Californian punk-rockers Guttermouth have never been strangers to controversy. You could argue that, at times in their storied career, they’ve outright courted it. It’s safe to say, though, that the verifiable shitstorm of events that occurred during and following their ‘Farewell Australia’ tour in 2013 went far beyond what they could have imagined.
A self-described disaster, the band wound-up banned from playing the majority of venues they were booked to perform at, resulting in their ‘final’ show taking place in a family-friendly venue in suburban Queensland, which was clearly ill-prepared to host a Guttermouth show. Suffice to say, that didn’t end well.
Departing amidst a sea of animosity and distaste, it seemed unlikely the band would ever step foot in the country, let alone take to a stage here, ever again, a fear further amplified when word circulated that vocalist Mark Adkins was destitute, penniless and in need of desperate assistance in a prison cell in La Sexta, Tijuana, Mexico.
Nearly two years on from that fateful tour, Music Feeds caught up with the instigator of all that chaos himself for a discussion about life, punk, redemption and all things Guttermouth.
Photos: Guttermouth – Ferntree Gully Hotel, Melbourne 11/08/2013 / Photos: Carbie Warbie
Music Feeds: Guttermouth’s last Australian tour was a rather controversial and tumultuous run of dates that resulted in you being infamously banned from playing many venues. What was that experience like from your perspective?
Mark Adkins: I’ve read a bunch of sides of the story as well and, to be honest, some of them are kind of amusing to me. But the simple fact is we’re a punk band and we’ve been doing this for a long time and sometimes you don’t have the most standard day at the office and things go wrong.
That could start with a couple of goon bags and progress from there and, truth be told, that’s pretty much what happened. I just got shit faced and fucked up.
MF: Do you feel like any of the fallout that followed was exacerbated or exaggerated by other parties?
MA: The press was selling it like doomsday but the fact is it sold more tickets for the upcoming shows, because everybody wants to see a train-wreck, so in a way it kind of made the tour must see. So while the press was saying people were violated and pissed off, in actual fact they got to see the most obnoxious, disgusting, disturbing thing that they actually enjoyed.
MF: The two years since that tour have been a pretty wild time for you personally. Did living with that borderline nihilistic approach to life Guttermouth are famous for make living a ‘normal’ life particularly challenging for you?
MA: The whole reason I wasn’t going to come back to Australia, man, was that I was going to give my life, my real life, up for a girl and play house. And a little bit of time into that, the resentment built up within me so much that I naturally went off the deep end.
I just couldn’t live that 9-5 lifestyle of working some shitty job and then coming home to some barely prepared meal and watch Seinfeld reruns, it’s just… It’s just not how I am wired, and that ended up leading me to a place that no one wants to be.
Watch: Guttermouth – Whiskey
MF: You went from living like a king in Mexico to having to beg for money for food. When you were living through that experience did you ever think you’d be fronting Guttermouth again?
MA: I was out to lunch, man, totally out to lunch, so that thought didn’t cross my mind at all. Being south of the border, you are in a third world country and it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you cross the street against a red light and find yourself held hostage by a cop who will take you to an ATM, force you to withdraw all of your money, then wait to midnight and make you do the same thing, again and again for three days.
And when you get out of that situation and royalty checks come in and you feel back on top, something worse happens. And that’s the reality of Mexico. Turns out that’s why it’s on the US government’s “no travel” list.
MF: When you were borrowing pesos from a corrupt cop a prison cell in La Sexta to call Alex [Flamsteed, Guttermouth drummer], were you scared that you might have taken it too far? And was getting out of that situation the impetus for change?
MA: Alex was a part of it, but another part of it was me being a human fucking punching bag in a Mexican prison, because being a white boy in a Mexican jail doesn’t really work out too well. I’m not exactly the best boxer in the world. I seem to be able to take a punch better than actually throw one, so that started to get old. I only wear a black eye so well, so many days in a row.
MF: Having got your life back on track, was it difficult to piece the band back together? The other members had scattered all over the place. How did you manage to convince them to reassemble and give Guttermouth another crack?
MA: There was a lot of damage done, man, and it took a lot of work to come full-circle and earn back people’s trust, not just in the band, but in my life generally. But thankfully I was able to do that and I’m happy to say the band’s in a great place and we’re really looking forward to coming back to play in our second home.
MF: What can Australian fans expect from a Guttermouth show in 2015?
MA: You’ll get a Guttermouth punk rock show. It’ll have some of the old stuff but you’ll also get some new material as well, which the other guys are working on as we speak.
MF:T hat preempts my question. What are the plans for Guttermouth after the current run of tours? Is there any possibility that we might be hearing some new music from the band?
MA: There’s some recording happening with the nice people at Bedlam in Brisbane for an Australian exclusive release when we get out there. We’ll be staying in the accommodation they have at the studio, so we can work around the clock while we are there and make sure we get that release out on time.
Being locked up for 24 hours will be like a nice throwback to being in a Mexican prison for me, so that should be fun. Hopefully the producer goes a little lighter on the punches than those dudes.
MF: Is there anything else you’d like the people of Australia to know before the shows?
MA: Honestly, Guttermouth has always had a special kinship with your country, and I personally feel like a bastard son of your nation. So I can’t wait to get back down there and get back to doing what we do best, which is be Guttermouth, punk-rock professionals.
Guttermouth’s Australian tour kicks off in Adelaide this April as the punk rockers take on 13 venues (at least the ones that will have them) across the country. See tour details here.