December 05, 2016
We Book the Shows, We Play the Shows, and on Occasion We Even List the Shows
As usual, I'm posting this updated little list of upcoming shows a bit tardily, and mostly as a way of making sure I know what I'm doing. If I'm missing anything (which is quite possible) someone let me know.
We have a whole lot of stuff in the works for 2017 that I hope to be able to announce soon if things don't go awry. Otherwise, see you in Chicago and everywhere else.
By the way, we did an on-line poll on the preferred Cubs-based shirt design for the Chicago shows and the winner by a big margin was this one:
The people have spoken.
Thurs. Dec 8th: Dr. Frank solo/acoustic, at the Westchester Public Library, 10700 Canterbury Street Westchester, IL 60154 708-562-3573. Free all ages. 7PM. If you didn't manage to get tickets to the Reggie's show the following night, this is the next best thing. I'll discuss my books and play some songs if that's the sort of thing you're into.
Fri- Dec 9th- Chicago, IL at Reggies, with Nobodys and the Reaganomics. SOLD OUT, see you there!
Sat- Dec 10th- Green Bay, WI at Lyric Room, with Nobodys, Rev Norb & the Onions, George's Bush. Here's the link to buy tickets. More than half the room is sold out at the moment, and I'm told most of the Lyric Room shows' crowds are walk-in. Basically, there will be tickets at the door but I don't know how many, so if you want to be be sure you'll get in, getting advance tickets seems to be the smart thing to do.
Monday, January 2, The Ivy Room, 860 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA. Dr. Frank solo opening for the Invalids and Surrogate Brains. 8PM. I mean, why not, right?
Saturday, January 7th, the "Lookout Bookout", North Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley CA. Pre-Lookouting book event with Dr. Frank, Larry Livermore, Grant Lawrence (The Smugglers), Jon Ginoli (Pansy Division), Nick Wolfinger (Jüke). 12:30 - 3PM. There's a Facebook event page here.
Saturday, January 7th, 924 Gilman St, Berkeley, with the Smugglers, Pansy Division, Brent's TV, Squirtgun, Potatomen, Kepi Ghoulie. All ages marathon, beginning at 5PM. Show of the century folks, right? Presale tickets are sold out for this show, though there will be a substantial number at the door. Line up early, though.
Sunday, January 15, SF Sketchfest 2017. TV Guidance Counselor interview/podcast with Ken Reid and Dr. Frank. Piano Fight Bar, 144 Taylor Street, SF CA. This is going to be a live show version of the TV Guidance Counselor podcast. Buy tickets here, should be a lot of fun.
Be there then.
November 21, 2016
November 11, 2016
November 07, 2016
November 04, 2016
King Dork Approximately the Album the CD
I get a surprising number of messages asking when and if KDATA will be available CD. I thought CDs were dead. Anyway, the answer is, there are no plans to manufacture CDs, though there will be a really nice vinyl edition of the album in Spring 2017.
However, as this guy discovered, if you do want one, you can make your own and download artwork from the KDATA download page.
That page is here.
Problem solved, sort of.
Also, I encourage everyone who feels like it to leave a review on the Amazon page for the book like this guy did. Why? I don't know, exactly, I just do.
November 03, 2016
November 02, 2016
Song by Song "liner notes" for Shards vol. 1
1. King Dork
Long before it was a book, it was a song. The basic tracks for this one were recorded during the Revenge Is Sweet... sessions but the song was never quite completed at the time. One of the rough "in progress" mixes done during the sessions appeared as an out-take on the Lookout compilation Forward 'til Death in 1999 as well as on a split 7" with the German band Gigantor. This more fully realized mix was included on the 2001 ...and the Women Who Love Them "Special Addition" CD re-issue comp. Al Jardine was dozing on the couch in the closet-like other room during the belated mixing session. I wanted to wake him up to ask him to do vox, but chickened out. I think Kevin Army might have casually mic'd the closet door though.
2. How I Made a Million in a Punk Rock Band
One of Jon von's most charming Sky Saxonisms, vocally, and among my favorite tracks from these sessions for some reason, this was an out-take from the second wave of Making Things with Light sessions at Sound and Vision. I feel like I should apologize for the naked Frehley-isms on the guitar, but I'm not gonna. This appeared on the Big Black Bugs CD comp.
3. Sackcloth and Ashes
Just me, a good song, a double tracked Les Paul Jr., and the tremolo knob on a Sears Silvertone amp. I wanted to record a whole album like this. Still do.
4. Whistle Bait
This Collins Kids cover is one of two songs we recorded with Jim Tierney at Fishtraks in Portsmouth, NH for the Joe King-produced compilation More Bounce to the Ounce. (It was later included on the ...and the Women Who Love Them CD comp.) Not much more to say about it, except: those were good times, and that p-90 sounds great.
5. Itching Powder in the Sleeping Bags (live)
I'm a little fuzzy on the precise source of this track, but it was recorded live on the radio, probably on KFJC, and probably around 1994 (Joel/Jim line-up.) It appeared as "Bonus Mystery Live Track" on the CD single version of the MTX / Goober Patrol split from 1995.
6. Boredom Zone
The song itself dates back to my high school days. This version was recorded in 1988 by Greg Freeman at Lowdown Studios in San Francisco as part of a lengthy demo tape, and it first appeared on the Lookout Records compilation The Thing that Ate Floyd. It was later included as a bonus track on the Lookout CD re-issue of the Night Shift album. Not, perhaps, my finest hour as a songwriter, but I still like the drone/jangle guitar.
7. Fill in the Blank
Not A-list material by any means, but still kind of a fun track. Recorded at Sound and Vision in San Francisco during the second wave of Making Things with Light sessions, this song originally appeared on the 1991 Flipside compilation The Big One, and was included on the Big Black Bugs CD re-issue comp in 1997.
8. Unpack Your Adjectives
This cover of the Schoolhouse Rock tune was one of five songs we recorded at Sound and Vision in '94 or '95, the first recording session to feature Joel Reader on bass and backup vox, and the last thing we ever did at Sound and Vision. The other songs were "Alternative Is Here to Stay", "New Girlfriend," "You Today," and "Semi-OK." My original plan was to do them all as a self-released e.p., but Larry Livermore talked me into doing a single with Lookout instead. The die was cast. We stayed on Lookout. (This song, under the title "Adjective," appeared on the 1995 Lookout Records comp. A Slice of Lemon.)
9. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
This surf-y song with nonsense lyrics somewhat inexplicably appeared on a 1997 compilation somewhat inexplicably called "Generations I - a Punk Look at Human Rights." Somewhat inexplicably, its title was listed as "Ya, Ya, Ya, Ya." It was later included on the ...and the Women Who Love Them CD comp. I believe this was recorded at Roof Brothers studio in Oakland, at the same session where we did the Duran Duran and Primitives covers. (We used to try to combine the covers comp recording sessions and throw in one of our own songs if there was time for it -- this track was unfunded, meant to benefit... something or other.) I can't remember much more about it, but I do remember the carpet. It was gray and kind of damp. Smelled like cats.
This original version of this song was on a Lookout flexi sampler that came with the September 1995 issue of Punk Planet as well as on the Goober Patrol / MTX split 7"/CD that came out in the same year.
11. Flying Jelly Attack
This was recorded at Dancing Dog Studios in Emeryville ca. 1989 for a Shonen Knife covers compilation called Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them; later on, it appeared as a bonus track on the Making Things with Light CD and subsequently the Big Black Bugs CD compilation. Many of the covers we recorded were done solely because the people putting them out gave us a small amount of money for studio time, but in this case it was a band I really loved and was one of my favorite songs by them. Our version is... well quite weird sonically, but sort of charming I guess. The guitar stuff was perhaps a harbinger of things to come in a way: this is what happens when you give a boy an SG and a Mesa Boogie. A guy from Jon von's work transliterated the Japanese lyrics for me and I sang them not very convincingly, but that didn't stop it being used as evidence for the still extant folk legend that I am half Japanese. (I'm not.) When we played with Shonen Knife a few years later Naoko Yamano told me my Japanese was "very well." Success.
12. As Life Goes On, You Get More and More Out of It
A home recorded never-before-released song that first appeared on the ...and the Women Who Love Them CD. comp. All it's got going for it is the double-entendred title really, but it's a pretty good one.
13. Kenny Smokes Cloves
One of the earliest MTX songs, recorded in that Greg Freeman/Lowdown 8 track demo tape session. Kenny Kaos needed to be immortalized in song, somehow, and while I'm sure I didn't quite do him justice, I did the best I could. This first appeared as a bonus track on the Night Shift album CD re-issue.
14. Can't Get There from Here
Recorded for a 1992 REM covers compilation called Surprise Your Pig (because they gave us $200) and included on the Big Black Bugs CD comp. Figuring out absurd sound-alike lyrics for the incomprehensible Michael Stipe lyrics was the fun part and the main memorable feature here, a rare instance, perhaps, of nonsense parody lyrics making more sense than the original. "Donna Reed is not my mom" will forever live in infamy. Years later our old associate Robert Shimp was engineering an REM record in San Francisco and played the track for Peter Buck, who reportedly said "at least they got the chords right." As with so much else in our repertoire, it was the very least we could do.
15. God Bless America
This much loved/maligned song originally came out on the Blame and Burn 7" comp on Flush Records in 1992. Later it was added as a bonus track to the Our Bodies Our Selves CD issue with no indication that it was "bonus" leaving many/most fans with the impression that it was the final track of that album. In fact, the song pre-dates the album by many years and was originally meant to be solo/acoustic, and generally played during broken string breaks and such at shows. (Ironically, on the other hand, "Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend" had been intended as a full band song that became acoustic by exigency.) This recording was meant as the first iteration of what was to be a generic backing track with new lyrics/vox to be added and submitted every time we had a compilation offer with no budget. (cf. "Vive la France" and "God Bless Lawrence Livermore".) It was also included on the Big Black Bugs CD comp. A different mix appears on the MTX/Goober Patrol split.
16. I Was Losing You All Along
As originally conceived, this song was intended to be the grand finale track of Revenge Is Sweet and so Are You -- the album title appears as a lyric in the bridge, in fact. In the event it never quite "gelled" in the studio and we didn't have the time (nor, arguably, the talent) to do it justice so it was abandoned unfinished. Kevin Army and I did what we could with it several years later to make it presentable for the ...and the Women Who Love Them CD compilation. It was during this session at Shark Bite studios in Oakland that Al Jardine poked his head in to say: "that bass sounds a little picky... not to be, you know, picky" lending a Beach Boy's support the tone side in our ongoing argument over how trebly and stringy the bass should be. While the recording isn't perfect, this is still one of my favorites among my songs, and I'd love the chance to re-do it properly one day, or to hear someone good do a cover of it. The reprise of the guitar line from Milk Milk Lemonade's "See It Now" was intended to link those two albums together on the basis of some no doubt pretentious rationale I've since forgotten.
October 31, 2016
Nikki and friend, ca. 1998
Makes a Great Gift
Too long, didn't click any of the links, decided to email or DM instead
The track listing for MTX Shards vol. 1 is: King Dork / How I Made a Million in a Punk Rock Band / Sackcloth and Ashes / Whistle Bait / Itching Powder in the Sleeping Bags / Boredom Zone / Fill in the Blank / Unpack Your Adjectives / Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah / Semi-OK / Flying Jelly Attack / As Life Goes on, You Get More and More out of It / Kenny Smokes Cloves / Can't Get There from Here / God Bless America / I Was Losing You All Along
Also here's the description/text of the Sounds Rad Shirts/Shards offer:
Ltd. to 60 Shirts. Pre-orders end Nov. 16th and shirts ship on or about Dec. 4th.
Prepare to be freaked out this Halloween as MTX and Sounds Rad have decided the resurrect the dead: t-shirts. We will be reissuing classic t-shirt designs in extremely limited quantities. Each design is printed on a high-quality soft looped cotton t-shirt, which is made to comfortable and more importantly, durable.
For November, we will be offering a reissue of the classic MTX Starship design limited to 60 shirts. The $25 t-shirt package will include a 1" pin, 5 x 5" sticker, 11 x 17 poster and a digital download of MTX's "Shards Volume 1" a collection of songs that have been dead and buried for the last 20 years. As an added bonus, if you pre-order the shirt on Oct 31st, you will receive the Shards Vol. 1 collection a day early!
MTX Shards Volume 1
So the tl;dr of this is: we just put up a new, MTX digital album on iTunes/Amazon/etc. It is volume one of what will be a two volume set containing all the extra songs that have appeared on various CDs as bonus tracks but haven't been available in the official online catalog till now. 16 tracks on each, 32 songs total. It's called Shards (Vol. 1). (Official release date is November 1. Volume 2 is coming soon.) Tracklist is here.
Sounds Radical is offering a package deal where you can pre-order a limited edition re-issue of the classic MTX Starship T-shirt (with a pin, sticker, and poster) along with an immediate download of the album. While supplies last! Order on Oct. 31st to get the album download a day early! If you want in on that go here. It will also, of course, be available on all the usual services like iTunes, Amazon, spotify, etc.
More: when we first started putting out records in 1986, the vinyl LP, ep, or 7" was obviously the main release, the "real" one. When CDs came along, this didn't change. The albums were still side A and side B of the LP. (For some of us, regardless of format, they still are, two halves, 20 minutes each or so.) The CDs were seen as an adjunct to the vinyl version, and, like a lot of bands, we used to pile on any available extra tracks in a more or less archival spirit without much (or any) thought given to aesthetic cohesion. The idea was, why would anyone want to pay more money for a CD of this when you could get a perfectly good LP -- better give 'em something extra to justify the extra expense. (Though in some cases it's not at all clear that these extra tracks added value rather than subtracted it.)
Anyhow, the result was, in the end, a mess, and a blurring of the line between the albums per se and the morass of extras. (e.g., the crazy track listing of the Our Bodies Our Selves CD, where the obvious ending song "Game Over" is succeeded by three cool but random extra tracks (one of them inexplicably moved from the main album to the end) with "Swallow Everything" shoehorned in between "More Than Toast" and "Not Guilty" -- because they were recorded in the same session? And then there's a hidden track at the end of a big space of silence after "God Bless America"... Clearly, the product of a madman, if not several madmen. Yet I know that many people think of this nutty CD as the actual "real" album. And maybe it should have been, in that some of the crammed-in songs are many people's favorites. But, it wasn't.)
So when, in the wake of Lookout's exit, we re-organized the digital back catalog, we decided to restore the original vinyl track listing and sequences of the albums, eps, and singles. While many of the CD extras had been b-sides that had been included on their respective singles in the re-organization, this left out a great many previously released songs (thirty-two, to be exact.) Some of these were quite "important" ones too, like "King Dork", "We Are the Future People of Tomorrow", "Unpack Your Adjectives," as well as a lot of fun covers and such. The plan was always to compile these into an Odds 'n' Sods / Relics type album, but what with one thing and another, that plan hasn't happened till now.
I've tried to arrange the tracks as albums that can be listened to as such, eight songs to a "side" in the traditional manner, rather than chronological archives. They are from various sources, (covers comps, out-takes, demos, one live on the radio song) spanning 1987 thru 1999. The criterion for inclusion when it comes to the out-takes and demos is simply whether they have already appeared (and subsequently disappeared from) somewhere. I have however left off the terrible sounding live cassette recordings that were on the Making Things with Light CD; they were just messing everything up like they always have. (They're easy to find if you must have them, and in fact, I can even sell you a CD if you want one of those: drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org) As for the demos and out-takes, maybe one day I'll find the machinery and the gumption to re-examine those tapes and see if there's anything else interesting on them, but that's for another time if it ever comes. For now, this is what there is. You can get the whole thing at once, or song by song as needed. Or not, as the case may be. Just putting it out there, as it were.
Finally, big, heartfelt thanks go to our good friend Pete Mattern at Planet X Recording Studio for mastering the comp. You'll probably be surprised how good it sounds, especially considering the sources.
(Also, if you still haven't got the new MTX album (King Dork Approximately the Album), it's a free download with the book, and the best place to get it is from Sounds Radical.)
October 30, 2016
This Guy Has the Right Idea
October 29, 2016
October 28, 2016
But time and social change have been rough on the Beach Boys. Their best-known hits (say, “California Girls,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “I Get Around”) are poems of unenlightened straight-male privilege, white privilege, beach privilege. It is hard to imagine that they helped anyone toward self-determination or achieving their social rights.
October 27, 2016
This is Dan Potthast of the band MU330 among others. Dude writes great songs.
No new listings from the last time I posted the list. I just deleted the Las Vegas shows which already happened. They were fun. I hope to be able to announce more dates soon.
Sat- Nov 12th- Santa Ana, CA at The Constellation Room, with Toys That Kill, The Maxies, The Decline (OZ). Facebook event page. Buy tickets.
Sun- Nov 13th- Los Angeles, CA at Redwood Bar with Toys That Kill +?? Buy tickets.
Thurs. Dec 8th: Dr. Frank solo/acoustic, at the Westchester Public Library, 10700 Canterbury Street Westchester, IL 60154 708-562-3573. Free all ages. Details TBA. Will probably start at 7PM.
Fri- Dec 9th- Chicago, IL at Reggies, with Nobodys and the Reaganomics. SOLD OUT!!!
Sat- Dec 10th- Green Bay, WI at Lyric Room, with Nobodys, Rev Norb & the Onions, George's Bush. Buy tickets.
Saturday, Jan 7th, 924 Gilman St, Berkeley, with the Smugglers, Pansy Division, Brent's TV, Squirtgun, Potatomen, Kepi Ghoulie. All ages. Show of the century folks:
October 25, 2016
(Here she is ten years ago, btw. Glad she stuck with it.)
October 20, 2016
Steven Bickmore is a professor of English at the UNLV College of Education (formerly of Louisiana State University) and a specialist in Young Adult literature. He pretty much singlehandedly forced King Dork into academic legitimacy through his graduate program and articles, including this one, which is definitely the fanciest thing I've ever been in, unless you count a couple of cowboy shirts. According to this he discovered KD via a google search for "books like Catcher in the Rye." So, this internet thing does work sometimes. I've been telling you it's gonna be big one day.
perfectly filters the essence of the great Ray Davies’ most inspired moments of the very early ’70s through Dr. Frank’s distinctive lyrical and vocal style
And if Ed or anyone who has read this were in doubt as to whether or not I would quote it in full, now and till the bitter end, well then, they don't know me very well, do they?
This is the second single from the Mr. T Experience’s first release in 12 long years, and it perfectly filters the essence of the great Ray Davies’ most inspired moments of the very early ’70s through Dr. Frank’s distinctive lyrical and vocal style.
He sets the tone with a wistful delivery of “To anyone with eyes, it’s plain to see / That high school is the penalty / for transgressions yet to be specified / The sentence begins as soon as they’ve got you inside” to the tune of what sounds like it could be an actual school song.
But the sentence doesn’t end there. As Dr. Frank notes in the following verse, "One day you’ll graduate, but you will find, my friends / That high school never really ever ends / The haves will still be hounding the have nots / Though they smile at you while they’re hatching their plots.”
It’s a brilliant arrangement, effortlessly navigating several different musical motifs with unerring pop sensibilities. And it stands as the musical highlight, for me, of “King Dork Approximately,” a companion piece to (Dr.) Frank Portman’s second young adult novel (a sequel to “King Dork,” which in turn started life as an MTX song, re-recorded here).
What really needs to happen now is for someone to take this album and this book and build a big-screen musical around the two.
I second that emotion, Ed!
A coupla other links:
-- Paul Silver capsule-reviews KDATA the album on Jersey Beat.
-- I am interviewed in the current issue of the horror zine Body Count. That's a buy link for the physical zine. I'm told it may be posted on line at some point.