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07 Aug 2017

Banned No More: Controversial Punk Band Guttermouth Plays the It's Not Dead Festival

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Guttermouth. Guttermouth.

In the 30 years of Guttermouth’s existence, frontman Mark Adkins has constantly had his middle finger raised up high in response to political correctness—and given the current political climate, the band is as relevant as ever.

Guttermouth will be performing at the It’s Not Dead Festival at Glen Halen Amphitheater in San Bernardino on Saturday, Aug. 26. Headliners include Rancid and Dropkick Murphys.

Legendary punk band The Dickies recently faced an angry mob of attendees at a Warped Tour stop, where they were labeled as “misogynists” for stage antics that included a penis puppet. Guttermouth went through a similar incident at a Warped Tour stop in 2004, causing the band to leave the tour.

“Political correctness has reached the punk-rock scene, and it’s just gone so awry and so rampant,” Adkins said during a phone interview. “That’s a shame, that everyone is so far to the left that you can’t even speak your mind. I think we’re in a very sad situation, not just in punk rock, but the real world in general. You can’t tell someone how you feel about what’s going on in the world, even if it’s tongue in cheek. … That’s not a country I want to live in, pal.”

Adkins said both the right and the left have taken things to the extreme, and that punk music is not the same as it used to be.

“It seems to be that the whole punk community has gone so far left—not entirely, given there are a few survivors out there, and guys on the right who pretend they’re on the left so they can be in the punk club. Punk or not, it is 2017. I never thought this music would be going for so long, but the way it has been going on, it’s not really punk music anymore to me. It is what it is.”

Guttermouth just released a new record, The Whole Enchilada. It is the first Guttermouth record in 10-plus years. The albums followed two EPs released in 2016.

“We did stop recording for a while, but we’ve kicked that back into high gear,” he said. “We stopped making records for over 10 years. We released our first EP a year ago, and then we released our second EP that did far better and actually charted on the Billboard alternative chart. Some people were telling me, ‘Pennywise has a new record’ or ‘Rancid has a new record,’ and I’m like, ‘What? How am I supposed to know this?’ I’m not a 5-year-old sitting in front of a computer screen hoping to hear from bands I like. I have better things to do, like be alive and go outside and do something productive. I will say this: I think Internet marketing doesn’t work.”

Adkins said Guttermouth’s 10-year recording hiatus came for a good reason.

“We wanted to see where the dust was settling (after) the crushing blow of the collapse of the CD and the take-off of the Internet,” he said. “We didn’t want to just keep putting stuff out, screwing ourselves and other people, because they’ll never hear it. Now people subscribe to Pandora, Spotify and things like that, and we kind of waited for that. Some labels settled in as being productive labels and had their reach in certain areas, and we waited for that, and the time was right.”

These days, Adkins views touring more positively than he once did.

“I appreciate the places I’m going travel-wise,” he said. “I get out and see more stuff when I’m out on the road instead of just going out and getting shit-faced. Now I’m checking stuff out, meeting people and hanging out. I like to sell our own merchandise these days, not because I’m too cheap to pay someone, but hanging out backstage is boring. It’s the same people, the same faces and the same attitude. I get to meet people from all walks of life and from all over the planet. I’ve learned lots of things and get to share experiences. I get a lot out of that.”

Guttermouth was once banned from touring in Canada due to “charges of indecency.” However, the band may soon return to the country.

“I’ve tried to stay away from that story so many times, but right now, I’m gearing up for a Canadian tour,” he said when asked about the Canada ban. “Because I’ve done everything they wanted me to do (to be) legit, now they want a piece of paper showing proof that there were never any charges filed, and there was a stay of execution—NEVER any charges filed. They want to see that, even though it’s on their computer. Even after I called the court where I was supposedly in trouble, I called the police department where I was in trouble, and I called their version on the FBI—and they all told me the same thing: ‘No problem. You did nothing wrong, and you don’t have a record.’ But I have to prove it in order to go back in. … They said, ‘You have to come up here and get your paperwork,’ and I told them, ‘I can’t. You won’t let me come in.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh boy, we do have a problem then.’ So I’m dealing with that right now. I did get kicked out of the country, but I had a good attorney, and it was money well spent. They never even pressed charges against me.”

Adkins laughed when asked about playing at the Glen Halen Amphitheater.

“That’s the same venue I got busted in, in 1995. Guess what happened there? No charges filed,” he said. “But it cost me a fucking fortune: bail, get out of jail, and you are guilty until proven innocent.

“I don’t care what anyone says. All these stories make me out to be a worse guy than I really am, but I don’t have a fucking record at all! I’m really surprised they’re letting us back there, and it’s my pleasure to come back. It’ll be cool, and I’m excited that we were invited.”

The It’s Not Dead Festival takes place at noon, Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Glen Halen Amphitheater, 2575 Glen Halen Parkway, in San Bernardino. Tickets are $42.50. For tickets or more information, visit www.itsnotdeadfestival.com.

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