Guttermouth is near-vintage SoCal punk

Southern California’s classic era of punk was born somewhere around the time “Star Wars” was released and ended about when John Hughes was making his best movies.

Its short-lived run from the late 1970s into the mid-’80s gave us the bands that wrote the blueprint for hardcore punk. But outside of that seven-or-so year span, and including the present day, Southern California has been loaded with all kinds of punk bands. Some of them still carry a torch for 1980s-era Reagan-hating angst, while others have followed in the steps of bands like the Descendents, whose speed and furry was matched with irreverent lyrics and a knack for not taking themselves too seriously. Some may get blasted by purists, yet many of them have maintained true to the D.I.Y. movement continuing to gain fans everywhere.

Guttermouth may not be a textbook example of early Los Angeles aggressive punk or hardcore, but they are nonetheless reminiscent of that late 80s skate-punk scene in Southern California. Guttermouth will play Tuesday at the Summit; it is the first time that band has played Durango in its 25-year existence. Guttermouth is Mark Adkins on vocals, Dave Luckett on guitar, Justin Van Westbrook on bass, Geoff Armstrong on guitar and Adam Woo on drums.

Adkins formed Guttermouth in 1988 after the frontman had played in several bands dating from the early part of the decade. He and the band were a result of the punk soundtrack that had hit America hard in the early 1980s.

“For me it was the West Coast bands all the way. They were the most important and a few English bands that were happening,” Adkins said earlier this month from his home in California. “G.B.H., Discharge, to our Black Flags and the Germs. All the usual suspects everyone knows were an influence.”

Guttermouth has changed with the times, abandoning the “make a CD” and tour formula. The band makes new music one single at a time, then posts the songs to its website for free listening. The band’s last “traditional” release came in 2006. But Adkins still favors touring as the way to win fans.

Perhaps it is that grass-roots approach that keeps fans; it has worked so far for a band that has existed on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to art that has driven by your gut and not by your wallet.

“There’s never been a plan,” Adkins said. “It’s something we’ve all had a passion to do and we just keep doing it. Without the passion and getting some enjoyment and fulfillment out of your music, there’s no point in doing it.”

The band’s leader also is driven by the longevity of some early punk icons. Nearly four decades after punk was delivered as an unwanted child into the music business, some forefathers are still getting after it.

“We’ve been doing this close to 25 years, and I feel like this is what I was born to do, and nothing is going to stand in my way,” Adkins said. “If Iggy (Pop) is still doing it, I’m still doing it.” Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.