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Still Punk: Twenty years of doing things the Guttermouth way 

Who's up for a jog?On a Friday morning, Guttermouth front man Mark Adkins talks for more than an hour over the telephone from his home in San Clemente, Calif. about, politics, honesty, distance running, guitar down strokes, Hot Topic stores, paddle boarding, real estate values, self-imposed racial segregation and several other topics related or un-related to punk rock. Adkins is funny, knowledgeable and courteous, but is also supremely confident in his opinions. In a strange way, the Guttermouth front man is punk rock and anti-punk rock all at once.

The 42-year-old Adkins is known for his boisterous stage antics and his practice of gently (and sometimes not so gently) harassing his audience, but he's also deftly intelligent and in supreme physical shape. He says that after our conversation he's going to run between eight and 10 miles. How punk rock is that?

But it seems that Adkins has struck a balance after 20-plus years of playing in Guttermouth and gladly celebrates his two decades in punk.

"I'm honored. I'm very proud of the fact that I didn't listen when my parents were telling me, 'Mark you're wasting your time, you're a fool, you're a boob. You need to go to school and do it right and become employee of the month at IHOP,'" Adkins says.

Although Adkins is the only remaining original member of the band, Guttermouth continues to tour nationally and internationally, remaining as lively and contentious as ever with a changing lineup that the lead singer picks from a stable of players he keeps under his belt.

"We want people to come out to the show and have a good time and we still feel like Guttermouth is one of those bands that still delivers. I can honestly and proudly say that we deliver one of the best shows in the punk business these days," Adkins says.

That's a bold statement, but after he pours through a list of what he thinks is missing from punk rock these days-not minding to name a few names along the way- it's clear that he's given it some thought. Adkins says that he loves engaging the audience, oftentimes through rather, er, unconventional means.

"Some kids get really mad when you badger them. They get furious when they think they're being belittled by the singer of a band. But I've got the microphone and I'm in charge. It's my show and I'm going to say what I want," Adkins says with a laugh. "There's a feeling of power when you're up there and I'm happy to abuse it, ya know? Sometimes I feel like George Bush, but with even less to say than the real one."

The mention of President Bush brings to mind one of the more memorable moments in Guttermouth history. During the 2004 Warped Tour, the venerated traveling punk rock summer camp, the anti-Bush rhetoric was at a fever pitch in the months before the election and as Adkins recalls, nearly every band was starting its set with "F Bush." Guttermouth proceeded to poke fun at the bands that Adkins viewed as blindly following the sentiment that was running through the tour. Although Adkins was hardly pro-Bush at the time, he and his band mates produced t-shirts mocking the "Not My President" shirts that were sold widely during the tour. Instead of Bush's likeness on the shirt, Guttermouth substituted images of Eddie Munster and Michael J. Fox. And no one seemed to notice.

"It was crazy. We'd see people wearing our shirts on TV during the Green Day American Idiot tour and all we could do was laugh," Adkins recalls.

It was a good prank, but in the end, Guttermouth ended up dropping off the Warped Tour that year. But this didn't seem to hurt their standing in the punk rock world by any means. Hell, if you can get away with badgering your own fans, you can probably get away with a whole lot of stuff.

Guttermouth, Hands on Throat
8pm doors, 9pm show. Sunday, January 25. Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $14/advance, $16/door. Tickets at Ranch Records and All ages.

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