Volume 93, Issue 26
Wednesday, March 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Mr. T Experience pities nobody but themselves
Photo by Jennifer Juniper Stratford
PICTURED BEFORE THE ILL-ADVISED ADDITION OF MOHAWKS AND GOLD CHAINS. California's Mr. T Experience bring their punk asses to Call the Office on Monday.
By Mark Pytlik
"'Loser' is a general state of mind," muses Dr. Frank, lead singer/songwriter for California punk outfit the Mr. T Experience. "It incorporates not only being poor but also feeling a little bit alienated."
If these truly are the benchmarks of a telltale loser, then the self-proclaimed "perennial losers of rock 'n' roll" may have a valid case.
When it comes to matters of alienation and financial destitution, the Mr. T Experience are old pros. Their forthcoming effort, Alcatraz, marks the band's ninth full length release. Dr. Frank (he prefers to keep his last name a secret) is the only member of MTX who has been around for all nine of those albums.
In his 15 years as a songwriter, Frank says he's seen the San Francisco punk scene go through every possible transformation. And yet, over that long period of time, one thing has stayed the same MTX have not been taken seriously by local punk diehards.
Frank attributes this mainly to an increasingly confused punk ethic, which typically aligns itself with things like self-deprecating humour and political activism, not the thoughtful introspection of bands like MTX.
He puts the onus on old school punk fans to open their minds to a slightly new style. "By the time that you get into your 20s your aesthetic has usually been cemented," he reasons. "People can't seem to get their mind around it."
But no matter there's a throng of unbiased teenagers who have discovered MTX's blend of tongue-in-cheek quirkiness and warm sentimentality. Alcatraz is a record which effectively highlights both extremes. Of particular note is the opening track, "I Wrote A Book About Rock And Roll," which is a scathing attack on rock journalists.
"I can't believe that nobody's ever written that song before," Frank marvels. "When you're in a position like I am being on the lower levels of the show business stratosphere, it's really impossible to get mainstream rock journalists to acknowledge your existence. There's also the fact that they're generally pretentious idiots."
While most fledgling bands wouldn't dream of risking their meal ticket by writing such a song, Frank doesn't have any issues with it. "A lot of people look at our actions as career sabotage, but I don't see it that way exactly," he says. "I think we've been very successful at defining ourselves and that's a much more satisfying situation to be in."
The result, he says, is more fulfilling than the route many of his contemporaries are taking. "A lot of bands will get a makeover when they believe they can get away with it," he smiles. "The result is that every year, 90 per cent of bands all sound like each other."
As for MTX's future, the plan is to continue plugging along, picking up small handfuls of fans as they go. It's this persistence, Frank claims, which helps define the band as such monumental losers.
"Most people, who are in the situation where they go for years and years being on the margins of success and make so little money over such a long period of time, eventually wise up and give up," he smiles. "Not us."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999