Tales from the A.H. Files

Chapter 2: A.H. vs. Guttermouth

A.H. got to play with a lot of awesome bands – we met some heroes and we made friends with some incredible musicians.

And then there’s Guttermouth.

The tale begins innocently enough, as we were scheduled to play a horse barn in the southern suburbs as part of the A. H. Rural Rampage ’97, where we played places afar like Charleston, IL, Omaha, NE, Spencer, IA, and the 14th Annual Kane County Tractor Pull and Dentistry Disaster Fair. This promised to be the usual clusterfuck where the show was run by a prepubescent Hello Kitty obsessive with a Bettie Page cut and her cigar-chomping dad, who ran the kitchen and occasionally issued threats to “keep that shit down”. For our own sanity, we stayed in the van and drank beer. We wouldn’t be ordering anything from the kitchen.

As Guttermouth were from California, they wore the requisite outfit of white t-shirt and skater shorts that cost more than most of you spent on your winter wardrobe. They had also obviously attended the infamous 3-day Less Than Jake Merchandising Seminar – every table was overflowing with music in every format (even wax cylinder – honest engine), and an obscene array of t-shirts in every size and color, folded neatly into perfectly conforming squares and stickered at prices that would even make the most mall-savvy Barrington Fat Records-enthusiast flinch.

We may have sold shirts that night. We might not even have tried – can’t recall. All things considered, the show went well and we skated out of there with a few bills, while Guttermouth loaded their inflatable “G” into the tractor-trailer.

But the mood turned sour when we met again the next night in Rockford. Jim “Taco” Bell was part of the Rockford crew, so we knew we’d be set up with plenty of libations and maybe a little grab-ass behind the skate park. Again, we elected to stay close to the van and avoid the well-groomed-and-perfumed likes of Guttermouth, though Kurt tried his diplomatic best to make nice and chat up one of the fellas (though he may have been speaking to a shrub – it was dark).

We played, and as usual Rockford treated us with tender-loving care (though they could have made a better effort to catch Scott when he fell backwards off the stage). We quickly applied a splint to Scott’s ego and retired to the back of the crowd to await the arrival of our sun-tanned saviors from double-time Valhalla.

As expected, they were tight, well-organized, jumping in time with military precision and sporting the much needed smirking frontman that The Vandals preselected and trained back during the reign of Reagan. But then the night took a strange turn as they began to talk about US. Now, I can’t recall saying word one to these bros, but broham did they stick it to US. They said we were……….”hippies”.

Now, a little backstory – In 1965, Kurt’s father did a military stint at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. As sailors, Dad and his aquatic brethren were duty-bound to peruse the night spots of the big city for what was termed back then as “action”. On a typical night of action perusal, the boys had the unfortunate luck to happen upon Chinatown and its wealth of unusual smells and even more unusual entertainment. At the top of a particularly steep climb was the renowned Jade Garden, where the women were guaranteed to please a man in uniform without the prevalent threat of being shanghaied. As they were approaching the club, they leaned forward as if walking into a strong wind, such was the incline’s challenge. It was then that they saw it – a brightly painted school bus careening down the road, side-swiping parked cars and making its way onto the sidewalk where our Naval heroes strove for oriental delights, right into its path. Inside the bus were more than a dozen “hippies”, obviously fighting the brake pedal to no avail. The last thing Kurt’s dad saw was the word “Furthur”, he and his friends toppling like wickets onto the bloodied streets of San Francisco, with one friend being miraculously pulled to safety at the last moment. Kurt’s dad awoke days later in the hospital with two broken legs and arms, and three friends short (two dead, one shanghaied).

Now, as far as Kurt was concerned, any utterance by a band of this dreaded “H”-word amounted to fighting words, especially coming from the pierced-tongues of these dude-bro spewing punk rock neophytes from the land that gave us the 3 hour workday and Gwen Stefani. Behind the skate park, Kurt confronted the entire band, offering not to just take them on collectively, but collect their merch-booty as his prize. Surprisingly enough, though outnumbered 5 to 1 (“No one here gets out alive”), they tried to bro Kurt into submission.

“Bro, chill. It was just a joke, bro”.

Sean was already reaching into his waistband, so Scott, ever so wise and protective of his bandmates and precious after-show drinking-time, stood between Kurt and the boys decked in color-fast garb and said -

“Guys. Come on. I’ve got two words for you.”

The Gutterboys hesitated a moment to register this new information (I saw one count out “1….2” on his fingers) and looked to Scott for an escape from their band-baiting banter faux-pas.

“Dudes. Musical Monkey.”

At this, we all began howling with laughter, and Guttermouth knew that any edge they gained in having a dozen merch guys in their corner was lost by the emasculating realization that they indeed sucked pretty bad and Scott need only mention “Do the Hustle (Skaters Anthem)” and they’d be on the ropes. They quickly capitulated, though Kurt ended up kicking their asses anyways. He also made off with a nice pair of skater shorts, a mismatched pair of Vans, and an autographed Warren Fitzgerald thong.

Guttermouth, however, had the last laugh, as Scott awoke days later to find that they had slipped a Musical Monkey CD into his coat when he wasn’t looking. As you’d expect, he couldn’t give it away.