Guttermouth are one of the most polarizing modern day punk bands. Any time any news is posted about them on this site, the topic inevitably blows up with plenty of “witty” banter being exchanged back and forth between, on one side fans of the band, and on the other side, pretty much everyone else. People either want to have this band erased from musical memory, or they continue to find their anti-P.C. lyrics and crass stage show entertaining. I am not going to say where I stand on this spectrum, but instead, review what many consider to be their finest album, Friendly People.
Friendly People is not a musical masterpiece, nor is anything Guttermouth has ever produced. When people say that they sound like a less talented (though when Ty was in the band he was a great drummer) rip-off of the Vandals or NOFX, they are 100% correct. Guttermouth plays straight up Southern California skatepunk, and that’s about pretty much all that they do. This does not mean that the music is horrible, but some songs (like the instrumental “Summer's Over”) sound like the band stumbled upon some chords in a dumpster that NOFX had thrown out while recording Punk in Drublic and decided to make them their own. Where the band separates itself from its skate punkbrethren are in their lyrics.
The album starts off with one of the band's staples, “End on 9.” The song pulls no punches as it mocks punk culture relentlessly. On the song, the always entertaining (or douche bag, depending on your point of view) singer Mark Adkins sings “Single-handedly I’ll wage my war on a personal level/ Everyday I will attack the establishment / Fishing without a license / And I’ll drink wine way before its time.” The next song, “Derek” attacks straight-edge as something that is outdated and only for kids who are under 21. The rest of the album follows this formula of taking jabs at all aspects of society with a brash, uncompromising, and snotty attitude, that for better or worse, has come to define Guttermouth.
The highlights of the album are the ska-toned (featuring the then horn section of the Voodoo Glow Skulls), “Veggicide,” which mocks vegetarians for brutally harming defenseless vegetables, and “P.C.,” which contains my favorite line of the album, “How dare you call them dogs / They’re Siberian-American Huskies!” The album ends with the song “Asshole”, in which Adkins and crew proudly proclaim, “I’m a goddamn asshole!”
To summarize Friendly People in one sentence, it is the kind of CD you put in your car when you’re driving a carpool of people to school or work and you want to see who gets uncomfortable or mad, and who laughs along. Though many say that Guttermouth are just bitter old men now, it is apparent from the lyrical content on Friendly People they have always been mocking everything and everyone, and therein is the inherent problem with this band. If you do not have a problem poking fun at P.C. and traditionally off-limit topics like homosexuality or race, then you’ll find Guttermouth very much to your liking. If you don’t find any humor in poking fun at these sensitive topics, then Guttermouth sounds like a talented high-school band, fronted by a bratty and quasi-homophobic, chauvinistic, frat boy. The odds are though, that if you fall into that second category, Guttermouth wouldn’t care what you thought because they’d be too busy laughing at you.