I was initially unsure where I’d put this article because it’s not really the “Punk Love” format but then I soon realized it’s actually everything this column is about. Let’s face it, I’ve only written one so I guess the best thing to do is take this wherever I want it to go. This time being an opportunity to fly by the seat of my pants, be a bit impulsive and not live in regret.
What I’m about to embark on is really more the 20 something Johnny rather than the 40 something Johnny with tons of responsibilities. Not that I live in some box and don’t have any adventure, but I generally at least have a plan of some sorts. That is just not the case this trip. I’m going to fly to California and follow Mr. T Experience around for three days. I fly to San Francisco to catch their first show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco, head to Los Angeles to catch them at the Troubadour, then end up in Santa Ana to see them at the Burgerama Festival. All of this is happening with only two sure things: my flight to San Francisco is booked and my flight out of Los Angeles is booked. Nothing more and nothing less. All of the shows will be with The Queers, The Bombpops and The Piniellas.
So why am I doing all of this? I guess to make a long story somewhat short, I am a huge fan. I know I always talk about what a music fan I am, but this band was definitely one of those bands that I considered to be my own. I was still in high school when I walked into a place called the Reko Muse in Olympia, WA and discovered the Mr. T Experience. Up to that point I didn’t know a ton about punk rock, but I had definitely already been listening to some great locals like the Melvins, Fitz of Depression and some other unknowns like Helltrout, Lemonade, etc. I believe I had also already discovered Descendents, Nomeansno and Jawbreaker but none of that matters except for the point I’m about to make about what MTX means to me.
All the aforementioned bands were punk bands; that is indisputable. They could also be said to be emo, math-core, metal and many other variations of musical genre as well as pop-punk regarding Descendents. What was different about MTX to me was that they seemed to just be the purest form of pop / punk mix. MTX just made me want to bounce around the room and sing along. It was my introduction to pop-punk proper. There was always a very clever yet sensitive side to the band as well (some let that sensitive word scare them, I never did).
The other part that I really enjoyed about them was that they weren’t in any way, shape or form “cool”. They just weren’t. They seemed to be a bit too smart to be that normal, “cool”. Some of the other bands were accepted a little easier by many crowds because of their leanings in other genres, but not Mr. T Experience. They were quite simply, just pop-punk in the truest sense of the term. I remember showing some friends after I got the Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue album in roughly 1990 and exclaiming “This is Punk!!!” A bold statement that I was very passionate about, but never seemed to convince some of my cohorts of. That was okay, again, this was “my” band. Now just because they weren’t “cool” in the normal sense doesn’t mean they weren’t a serious rock band as well. It just always seemed to be just the right amount of all these things.
Unfortunately, being “my” band doesn’t get a band what they deserve. A truly honest band struggles, get’s trapped in what people want / expect of them and I couldn’t honestly tell you how many people felt like me in regards to MTX. I know during some of the later albums like Alcatraz and thereafter, the band tried to do what made them happy and it seemed people weren’t really as receptive. It’s one of those situations where you play a show, probably want to do a lot of your new material and the audience screams for something from the first album. I was glad they did what they did and stayed honest with themselves. I personally enjoyed some of those later albums and their longevity has been even greater for me. I still listen to the later albums and catch new favorite songs to this day. That was about the time MTX slowed down, Dr. Frank (Frank Portman) started concentrating more on writing books and none of us were really all that sure if we’d get a chance to see them again.
The “life changing” show wasn’t the only time I’d seen them. Fast forward quite a few years and I had interviewed Dr. Frank, seen them many times live and I would say supported them as much as one person possibly could. Now that there’s news of them playing shows again? Yeah, you bet I’ve got my flight booked and will be traveling to California! I don’t know what the future holds for them, but I personally just want to be there to support them. Have I mentioned I’m rather shy and out of all the times I’ve seen them I’ve really only met Frank once? That was because my then girlfriend, now wife actually created the opportunity. Sadly true. It’s not like they would have cared if I approached them, I just never wanted to approach them as a dumb fanboy, which this article clearly points out just how much of one I am. Oops.
I could honestly go on for another few paragraphs about all of this, probably lead into some other bands that I considered to be “my” bands but the main point of all this is to let you guys know that starting Friday, March 27th, I’m off on this little adventure and invite all of you to follow me on my social media to see how it all turns out.
I’ll be posting some stuff on the typical For the Love of Punk social outlets (Instagram: @4loveofpunk – Twitter: @4loveofpunk, but don’t want to saturate or take away from some other stuff we might be doing with pics of my shoes walking through the streets of California. So check out my personal outlets (Instagram: @johnnyftlp and – Twitter: @johnnyftlp) for a little more in-depth coverage.
I hope to see large support for these guys, it is well deserved and I’ll be very proud to be a part of it. So my backpack is packed, camera ready to go and I’m ready to hit the coast and sing along joyfully to the sounds of MTX! I certainly hope to see a lot of like-minded people there.