Mr. T Experience
The Mr. T Experience (sometimes abbreviated MTX) is an American punk rock band formed in 1985 in Berkeley, California. They have released ten full-length albums along with numerous EPs and singles and have toured internationally. Their music is best classified as pop punk and is intentionally playful, comical, and satirical, often dealing with issues of love and relationships. The band's name is taken from actor and television personality Mr. T.
The Mr. T Experience serves mainly as the creative outlet for singer/guitarist "Dr. Frank" Portman, its primary songwriter and sole continuous member throughout multiple lineup changes. The band is closely associated with the Berkeley and greater San Francisco Bay Area punk rock movement of the late 1980s and the 1990s, revolving around the 924 Gilman Street venue and the Lookout! Records label, through which they have released all of their albums since 1990. They are contemporaries of numerous other groups who emerged from this same "scene," including Green Day, Operation Ivy, Rancid, Jawbreaker, The Donnas, Tilt, and NOFX. They also share stylistic similarities with other bands not native to the Bay area but closely associated with this movement, including The Queers, Screeching Weasel, and the Groovie Ghoulies. Over the years the Mr. T Experience has performed, toured, and shared a record label with many of these bands. They also share a heavyRamones influence, which was more prevalent in the band's early albums but is still evident in their recent work.
Prior to forming The Mr. T Experience, members Frank Portman and Byron Stamatatos had played together in a band called the Bent Nails while in high school in Millbrae, California. The two kept in touch after Portman moved to Berkeley to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he met Jon Von Zelowitz who was a fellow DJ at the university's radio station KALX. He was also introduced to Alex Laipeneiks, who had been a high school friend of Portman's younger brother. In the summer of 1985 the four formed The Mr. T Experience with Portman on guitar and vocals (under the pseudonym Dr. Frank), Zelowitz on guitar and vocals, Stamatatos on bass, and Laipeneiks on drums.
The band released their first album Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opinion in July 1986 on their own label Disorder Records. They began to build a local following through small tours and airplay on college radio stations and quickly became part of the thriving late-1980s Bay Area punk rock movement centered around the 924 Gilman Street venue. A second album, Night Shift at the Thrill Factory, followed in 1988 through the US arm of Rough Trade Records. It was around this time that Portman began a tradition of introducing each of the band's songs with the throwaway line "this song is about a girl..." at each of their performances. The EP "Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood" followed in 1989, after which Stamatatos left the band and was replaced by Aaron Rubin. Rough Trade Records US went out of business shortly after releasing the EP.
In 1990 the band signed to Lookout! Records, which they would remain on throughout the rest of their career. They collected the results of several scattered recording sessions into the album Making Things With Light, which was the first CD album released by the Lookout! label. Milk Milk Lemonade followed in 1992, after which they embarked on their first tour of Europe. While in Spain the group recorded the EP Strum ünd Bang, Live!? Shortly after returning to America, von Zelowitz left the band, leading to a near-breakup. They attempted a reunion with him a few months later but elected to continue on as a trio, releasing the Gun Crazy EP in 1993. The album Our Bodies Our Selves soon followed and a tour was planned, but Laipeneiks declined to tour and soon left the band. Another near-breakup ensued as Portman considered returning to graduate school and Rubin joined Samiam.
Portman continued writing songs, however, and in 1994 Rubin returned from working with Samiam and recruited drummer Jim "Jym" Ruzicka. The trio recorded the EP ...And the Women Who Love Them, which instilled some creative rejuvenation to the group. Soon, however, Rubin returned to Samiam and Joel Reader joined the band as his replacement.
The lineup of Portman, Reader, and Ruzicka became the band's most stable lineup since 1988. From this point on the group essentially became Portman's project, as he began a prolific period of songwriting. The trio released an album each year for the next four years: Love is Dead (1996), Revenge is Sweet, and So Are You (1997), Road to Ruin (1998 - a cover of the Ramones' 1978 album of the same name), andAlcatraz (1999). Portman also released a solo album in 1999 entitled Show Business is My Life.
Reader left the band after Alcatraz and formed the Plus Ones. He was replaced by Gabe Meline, who had contributed to the recording of Alcatraz. This lineup recorded the EP The Miracle of Shame in 2000, which also included organ and keyboardist Erik Noyes. Noyes was a semi-official band member who had contributed to Revenge is Sweet, and So Are You and Alcatraz and joined them officially for touring in the summer of 1999, but did not remain with them long. The band toured sporadically until 2002, when Meline left the group.
The band's lineup once again changed in 2003, with bassist "Bobby J" Jordan replacing Meline. Guitarist Ted Angel also joined, making the band a four-piece again for the first time in ten years. This lineup released the 2004 album Yesterday Rules. Limited touring followed, while Portman continued to perform occasionally as a solo artist and also in The Bomb Bassets.
The Mr. T Experience has been relatively inactive since 2005. Portman has instead focused on his writing career, publishing his first novel, King Dork, in 2006 and Andromeda Klein in 2009.
The Mr. T Experience continues to develop content creatively and has undergone extensive lineup changes throughout their 25 year and still strong career.
Check out the Mr. T Experience catalog page.
Check out this link for more on the MTX family tree