Critics' Picks


Listening to many of Guttermouth's songs could convince an average listener that singer Mark Adkins is a total asshole. His lyrics bypass normal social mores and can, for instance, extol the virtues and the fun in big-game hunting ("If I can't shoot them / I'll start a forest fire / Watch 'em run / Right at my gun," Adkins says in "What's the Big Deal" off 1997's Musical Monkey). Another song refers to his mother's supposedly starring in one of the notorious Tijuana donkey shows with lyrics far too graphic for even this newspaper. Vegetarians, pets, straight-edge fanatics, Disneyland, people from San Francisco, skateboarders, punk rockers, anybody even remotely politically correct, and many other people find themselves the objects of derision in Guttermouth songs. And unfortunately, homosexuals also serve as punch lines for Adkins' lyrics. In the intro to the song "P.C." (from the group's second album Friendly People), it's played for laughs when a concerned citizen has a hissy fit when a bystander neglects to call his a dog a "Siberian-American husky." "That's like calling an African-American a Black," the politically correct caricature continues. "Or calling a Mexican-American a Mexican. Or calling a homosexual a stupid faggot!"

Just like most other artists who could be deemed shock-rock, Adkins says that all his songs are intended to be humorous and not used as weapons of hate against specific groups. And in his defense, many Guttermouth songs are indeed very funny. "Mr. BBQ," "Bruce Lee Vs. Kiss Army," and "God's Kingdom" (which toys with the notion of replacing traditional religion with gambling and exchanging Jerusalem for Las Vegas), among others, hit their marks exactly. As for his unsavory comments about homosexuals (like the ones he makes in "P.C."), Adkins explains that it's not any latent homosexuality or deep-rooted homophobia at the core of the songs. Sure thing, buddy.

From their very name to their stage antics (both band and Adkins personally have been sued for various reasons) to their sometimes offensive lyrics, the members of Guttermouth have made it clear that they'll attempt to break every taboo possible on record and in their live shows. For example, Adkins broke one of the rules of rock and roll by insulting a local institution, specifically ragging on the defunct Denton venue The Argo the last time Guttermouth played in Dallas. Perhaps the Dallasites in attendance didn't know or care what he was talking about, but the ardent Denton contingent in the audience was obviously exasperated by Adkins' remarks. They should have expected it: It wouldn't be a Guttermouth show without at least some people walking out cursing the band. Guttermouth performs July 14 at the Galaxy Club. 98 Mute opens.

Yuval Weber

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Yuval Weber