In February, the Lawrence band Mouthbreathers played the Love Garden's 21st anniversary party along with Reigning Sound, former Oblivians frontman Greg Cartwright's band. "[Cartwright] said he really liked our set," says Brad Shanks, Mouthbreathers' guitarist. So the group gave Cartwright one of its CDs to take with him, hoping that he might share it with some folks at the influential Los Angeles garage-rock label In the Red Records, to which Reigning Sound is signed.
Unfortunately, the CD that Cartwright received was short on information: no band name, no track listing, no e-mail address. "It just had a picture of a dick on it," says singer and guitarist Kyle Gowdy. Drummer Zach Campbell had written "I've got bubbles in my butt" on it. "It was a CD that was meant for our friend Edmond, and we ended up giving it to Greg," Shanks says.
By a stroke of luck, Cartwright lost the CD, but he was still interested enough in Mouthbreathers that he contacted Love Garden owner Kelly Corcoran about getting another copy. "It was a good turn of events that Greg Cartwright lost that CD," Gowdy concludes.
The CD was passed around at In the Red, and after much waiting, Campbell finally worked up the gumption to ask label founder Larry Hardy if In the Red would be interested in putting out a Mouthbreathers single. Hardy eventually agreed. Next month, a two-song single from the band, featuring the songs "Anxiety" and "The Creeper," will be available via In The Red. Those three words have been instrumental in booking national shows, Shanks says.
"Basically, we were already starting to book a tour, and it was kind of so-so, and nobody was confirming anything," he says. "Then Zach sent out another e-mail that said, "On In the Red Records" or "Single coming out on In the Red Records," and everybody started giving us shows. It definitely helped out a lot."
Mouthbreathers' upcoming tours will see it heading to the West Coast in September to play with such acts as White Mystery and the Fungi Girls (as well as a set at San Francisco's Total Trash Fest) and a jaunt along the Eastern Seaboard in October. But the band remains a distinctly Lawrence one.
"We started like most bands in this town — over a few beers at the Replay," says Campbell, who has played in a number of Lawrence bands, most recently Rooftop Vigilantes. "It's just kind of like Lawrence, Kansas," Shanks says. "Everybody sort of knows everybody. It wasn't like, 'We're all going to play together, and it's going to be amazing!' It's more like, 'Hey, I've got a band. Do you want to play guitar?'"
"This probably should've happened a really long time ago," bassist Derek Solsberg says. "We talked about starting this band for a good year before we actually started it."
What sounds drew them together? "We all like a lot of the same shit," Gowdy says. "I think a lot of it correlates around early, pre-hardcore punk music, like the early Detroit stuff."
"We all have our favorite bands, but collectively we have a couple of overlapping favorites, like the Wipers and Nirvana and Devo," Campbell says.
The band has been especially prolific thus far; even fairly recent songs get set aside or retired in favor of newer material. "Every time we practice, we seem to write a new song or two," Shanks says. Explains Campbell: "A lot of songs are an idea that gets kind of sussed out at practice. Several times, it's just been somebody playing a riff while warming up, and that gets turned into a song. There's really no method to what we do at this point."
Mouthbreathers definitely has enough songs for a full-length, which the band plans to record over the winter. Will it be out on In the Red?
"It's always a possibility," Campbell says. "There are no contracts at In the Red. It's all handshake agreements. It was just, 'You want to put out our 7-inch? OK! I don't need to ask you any more questions.' We're definitely going to give the full-length to In the Red, and if they want to put it out, awesome. And if, for some reason, they want to pass on it, we'll find someone else to put it out. But for now, we're really thankful that we've got something coming out, period."