INTERVIEW: Geoff Armstrong of Guttermouth


LOS ANGELES, June 24, 2016 — Guttermouth is back. After ten years, the Southern California punk rock mainstays are set to release a new EP, Got It Made, on July 15 via Bird Attack/Rude Records. Overall, the EP has a Friendly People vibe with a bit of their newer flavors mixed in. Recently, guitar player Geoff Armstrong took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding the new album.

Interview transcribed by Becca Jean

Kevin Wells: So you guys have a new EP, which is like the first in ten years, with the band having so many lineup changes throughout the years, what is the writing process for you guys like at this point?

Geoff Armstrong: With this EP, a couple of us had some ideas. We’ve actually met a bunch of times over the past three years and Justin, he’s into recording and all of that, so if somebody had a riff or whatever, he would just put drum tracks and bass to it and then we’d get with Mark and work on some melodies.

I mean, honestly, probably three or four years ago, I would have said there would never be another release, but we started meeting up and then had some ideas. We were in Australia this past year, about a year ago, and we stayed at this studio for about a week in between legs of the tour and it was real casual, like the guy let Justin kind of run the console and what not. So we just started practicing in there and coming up with ideas. Mark’s behind all the vocals, but a few people had some input on some different stuff to help him out, but he kind of handled that area and from there we came back with some rough demos.

Kevin Wells: How did the deal with Bird Attack come about?

GA: I’ve known Garrett from Bird Attack for a long time and he kind of heard about it and was like, “Hey would you guys be interested in putting something out on Bird Attack Records?” Then he teamed up with Rude Records and they came to us with a deal and here we are. We recorded it in Florida. Garrett has an engineer there and Justin is our recording expert, if you will, so him and this guy got together and Justin decided he would be a good fit for us so we went back there and did all of that.

KW: When you guys were writing was there kind of a concerted effort to try to make it sound more like older Guttermouth stuff? Because I’d say overall I get a lot of a Friendly People vibe from this record.

GA: Have you heard the whole thing yet or just one track?

KW: I’ve heard the whole thing. There’s a couple newer sounding ones, but yeah.

GA: It’s kind of funny because Mark and I like the real, real older stuff a lot better like the older punk and Justin is more into the 90s punk so I think between all of us mixing and matching ideas and what not, that’s kind of what we came up with, but it was never like “We need to remake Gorgeous.” We just threw around ideas and that’s what we came up with. We definitely didn’t have an agenda with what it should try to mimic or anything like that.

KW: I live in L.A., so it seems like you guys are constantly either playing here or playing elsewhere, do you guys ever take time off?

GA: This band is pretty unique because we’re one of the few bands that somebody can book us for a 50 person room, like something tiny, and then somebody will book us for something like The Observatory in Santa Ana that holds a thousand people. What I guess that translates to is we’re a pretty diverse band with where we’ll play, some bands are pretty strict about where they’ll play. There’s just so many nooks and crannies, especially in California, like I’m sure you see one-offs all the time. There’s so many towns that have like built in crowds and that works better.

As far as national touring, we do tour quite a bit, but we do feel like we’ve been gone a little too much lately. We finished a tour back in February and we really don’t have anything even remotely planned, so probably late September/October. We decided to kind of take like a hiatus. We’ve been touring more as a headline band or co headline band, like with Agent Orange and Authority Zero, and we’re looking to maybe jump on as the smaller guys with some bigger bands if some people will take us out. With the new release I think it would be good to travel with a band that maybe has a different demographic and turn some younger fans on to the band and what not.

KW: With this EP I’m sure you’re gonna get tons of people asking when you guys will come out with a full length, is there a full length in the works or in the thought process at all?

GA: We kind of wanted to use the EP as a test a little bit. There’s lots of other ideas that we had on the table for songs that we kind of worked with and we had a few more lyrics and just weren’t feeling them so we felt that these were six songs that we wanted to put out. Yeah, we could have thrown another five in for filler and come out with a full length, but we didn’t feel that that was really the thing to do, like, if we weren’t completely satisfied with the songs, we were over it. That being said, there’s definitely some other ideas being thrown around. I don’t want to jump the gun, but I think you can definitely see some more in the future maybe another EP and then something else down the road. You never know, especially with this band, because there’s nothing ever set in stone and we’re not contracted with a record label as far as, “Hey you have to put out this and that.”

I think that’s why the gap was so long with putting out records and I think more Mark than anybody else was over the writing process and over being under a contract because some of the old records did some really big numbers and then you put out something afterwards and it does half that or whatever the case may be and the fans don’t like it and everyone is like, “They’re starting to get old and their songs suck,” so I think Mark was feeling some stress and pressure with the writing process or just kind of burned out maybe he didn’t even have anything to say in music for awhile. Then in Australia, he just started coming up with ideas. So who knows with this band? You never know what you’ll see. I could tell you right now, “Yeah, we have a full length planned,” and then it would never come out. It changes by the month depending on what’s going on, but I think everybody is in a good mindset to do more songs for sure.

KW: Anyone who has seen Guttermouth over the years knows that Mark is probably one of the wilder people in punk these days, do you have any stories where you were just like “F*** I can’t believe that just happened!”?

GA: That happens all the time but I would say it’s more of just laughing. The group that we have now it’s been overall the same collective group for several years and everybody has a good time and everybody meshes well together and it’s pretty funny what goes on but I don’t have one thing I can think of off the top of my head but we laugh quite a bit. I think a lot of that stems from not taking ourselves serious like we rag on ourselves as much as he rags on the crowd and we don’t let him get away with sh*t we give him probably way more hell than he gives the crowd.

I’m a pretty big Guttermouth fan, like when I was in high school I learned the first two records, so as their sound kind of progressed I didn’t like it as much, but then when this EP came out my first thought was, “Guttermouth is back!”

I think everybody wanted to get some songs with the older vibe, but there’s definitely some poppy songs on this. I call them poppy. They’re still pretty fast for most people. It’s weird because you have people that say that Gorgeous or Friendly People or Musical Monkey and then you have people that think Shave the Planet was the greatest album ever and collectively as a band everybody thinks it sucked. It’s funny to see people’s perspective. Maybe somebody went through high school when Shave the Planet came out and that was their soundtrack for their high school years. It always blows me away to hear people’s perspective. All we can really do is write music that comes to our heads and let everyone else decide what it sounds like and if it’s good or not.

I was such a diehard fan in high school that when Teri Yakimoto came out someone told me that you could get Mark Adkins number from 411 so I dialed 411 got his number and called him up and he answered and I was like “Oh s**t it’s him!” So I started giving him s**t for it but he was super cool about it. He could have been a total jerk to me, but yeah it was rad.

It’s funny cause I know people call him. He gives his number out so much, like if you catch him after a show when he’s pretty drunk and stuff, he’ll just be like, “Here take my number down,” and the next day someone will call him like, “Hey man, I met you last night,” and he won’t remember. It’s pretty funny. So many people have his number and he get’s so many random calls. I talked to another guy the other day and he was like, “Yeah, I got his number and I called him and Mark went off on me and called me a f**king a**hole and that I was a waste of his time.” So, I guess it depends on when you get him.

I think that’s why this band has kind of made it on it’s own because we’re definitely the red headed stepchild in the punk world as far as we’re not on Fat Wreck Chords and a lot of the bands have their little cliques and I think what’s kept the band going is Mark is very approachable. He’s obviously the face of the band, but everybody hangs out with the crowd and there’s no tour bus. We travel with so many bands that on stage they seem like they’re so much fun and cool and then you’re like hanging out with them and they don’t want to be around people and are just miserable. I think that’s what has kept the band with, I don’t want to say a cult like following, but we definitely have some pretty dedicated people that still follow the band. I think it’s because the band has always been approachable and Mark is always drinking beer with people and doing shots with people versus hang out backstage and hiding.

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