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No cookie-cutter pop punk shit here

The guitarist with American pop-punk band Guttermouth, Derek Davis, discusses their longevity, the controversy over the new album and the new breed of pop-punk bands.

Guttermouth have been around for a long time. They were around before Blink-182, Sum 41 and the rest of their happy-go-lucky ilk bounced their way into the charts and onto every television screen that has access to MTV. The pop-punk pigeonhole that Guttermouth occupy at the moment may cover a very broad musical spectrum, but its one that Derek feels isn't living up to what it's supposed to be. "I just got off tour with 40 bands, most of them sounding the same, so I'm sick of that", and who can blame him considering the amount of baby Blinks there are in the world. Whether you like Guttermouth or not, it has to be said that their fun-loving and daring attitude to do what they like has kept them fresh faced in the face of everything that has come against them.

[image: Derek Davis] They've released numerous albums on Nitro and Epitaph, the two big punk labels, without ever doing anything exceptional and their latest offering, "Gusto", is no different. Just don't go in expecting it to be straightforward pop punk the whole way; neither the B-52 influenced 'My town' or the imitation pirate vocals on 'Looking out for #1' would fall into that category. Mix that with songs like 'Pee in the shower' and you can bet your last banana you aren't going to be asked to consider if God exists, whether we should overthrow the government or what your purpose on Earth may be.

Mark Adkins, Guttermouth's vocalist, has been quoted in the past as saying "punk is about taking chances" and chances are something Guttermouth take in abundance, writing an album full of straightforward punk songs would probably be the easy way out. Derek agrees readily with his bandmate and is of the opinion that too many other more 'serious' musicians and rock stars "just got boring and stuck in a rut. Generally people are looking for a good time. They work, or go to school, or loiter all week long, so there is no sense in trying to make them think too hard at a show or while listening to music. They should be having a good time and forgetting the bullshit. Just about anyone can play an instrument or preach some bullshit to others to make them feel high and mighty for a moment. I would like to believe that most people should make their own decisions and not follow, like sheep, some circus freak blabbing off at a punk show."

It was with this attitude that Guttermouth set about recording the songs that would become "Gusto". "The process of recording the album was this: Lots of red wine, beer and sitting around laughing. We put that into the songs and came up with 'Gusto'. We did a lot of it at home in our own rehearsal studio… we just wrote the lyrics first and let the music follow the mood, simple."

[image: Guttermouth]Guttermouth may be classed as a punk band, but there is so much more than punk music on display here. "Gusto" is, in fact, as eclectic a collection of songs as you're going to find anywhere; it dips and weaves in and out of every musical genre, and not just the good ones. As a band, Derek believes it is easier to write an album that doesn't just stick to one style "There are three or four of us writing each record and everyone is equal. We have different tastes and that shows on the record."

Take the obvious B-52s influence on 'My town'. "We grew up on that shit", Derek reveals with no inhibitions what so ever. "It's fun. We have always had a bit of B-52s in us." Then there's the album's closer, 'Lemon water', a spoken word rant about how people put a slice of lemon in drinking water. You could be forgiven for mistaking the person speaking for Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty, even though Derek is quick to point out "there no influences on the writing of that song", before adding slyly "it came straight from the heart." It's a song that has to be heard to be believed.

Straight from the heart it may be, but the album doesn't seem to have impressed a lot of their fans. One look at Guttermouth's info page on their label's website (Epitaph) reveals this, in all its disgusted glory. One fan went so far as to post the following message: "I would rather listen to Celine Dion for three hours and gouge my own eyes out with an ice pick then listen to this pathetic attempt to recreate Blink-182".

You'd think that an opinion potentially as ego destroying as this would make the band reconsider their attitude and song-writing ability, but Derek is adamant in his defence of both the band and their album. "We wrote the songs exactly to the mood we were in at the time," he explains. "'Gusto' is way more diverse than any of that cookie-cutter pop punk shit that is out there now and always remember that we have been doing all this shit a lot longer than most. A lot of people might want to hear the same old record over and over… how boring. As far as confidence goes, I think we've shown that we have plenty of that. Check out our live shows."

There's a problem here though, Guttermouth, like so many other American punk bands have left Ireland out of their touring schedule, ask Derek why and the question is met with an audible shrug. "I don't know why," he says, pausing a moment before adding, "logistics I guess."
Guttermouth - Gusto
Guttermouth - Live from the Pharmacy

Ken McGrath

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