Mr. T Experience
By Tim. The following is an email interview that I conducted with Dr. Frank, singer/guitarist of the Mr. T Experience. I wanted to get an outstide opinion of the Christian music market...and I think he did great. To buy their albums go to Lookout! Records I own them all, and they are great.
I'll do my best to answer your questions, but I'm not promising that the
answers will be brilliant.
#1 what do you think of the christian music market?
To be honest, I really don't know anything about it, beyond the fact that
it exists, so anything I say isn't based on actual knowledge. But just as
a general impression of the idea, music specifically and exclusively by and
for Christians _per se_ seems pretty limiting. I understand that the
mainstream world isn't all that interested in songs of devotion, or
professions of faith, or whatever, and I sympathize with the impulse to
take matters into your own hands and create an insular enclave where
like-minded artists and fans can indulge themselves. There's an analogy
with punk rock in that regard. However, I don't think I'd be happy writing
songs designed only for the "punk subculture," even if the reality of it is
that that's who will hear it. When bands do that, the material suffers.
Ditto "women's music."
#2 what do you think of christians playing in the general market?
That's the status quo, isn't it? The alternative would be something like a
general boycott by "Christians" of "non-Christian" media outlets? That
#3 what religion are you?
#4 do you have any stories about memorable shows?
I hate to say it, but not really. We do so many shows that they all blend
together into one amorphous memory for me. We had a really great time in
Seattle last week. I guess I have a short-term memory.
#5 when is the next album coming?
It's called "ALCATRAZ" and it comes out in mid-Sept. My solo album "SHOW
BUSINESS IS MY LIFE" came out last month. Both on Lookout Records.
#6 are you still happy with lookout?
#7 who are some of your favorite bands?
I always hesitate to answer this question because you can't list everyone
and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by leaving them out. I feel
that the Lookout roster is of unusually high quality, and I think the
Lookout bands are doing something special and unique. I can't wait or the
new Smugglers album.
#8 how do you deal with MRR or other various fanzines complaining about bands
(including yourselves) that get popular?
How do I deal with it? I pretty much just ignore it, because it's not that
interesting. Being involved in something at the margins of society can
lead to a situation where you fetishize marginality, where the trappings of
marginality become an end in itself. I sympathize. The sad fact is that
real success in the music business requires far more money than 99% of the
musicians in the world will ever have access to. You've got a choice of
(a) entering the competition to become, at least temporarily, a member of
the privileged 1%, or (b) declining to play that game and making the
attempt to do it on your own, making the most of what limited resources
you've got. Most of us are working on some form of "plan b." We're
jealous of the people who have achieved success with "plan a." We feel
morally and artistically superior to them (sometimes with justification,
sometimes not.) The "plan a" people have the means to reach millions of
people and make millions of dollars (theoretically), while the "plan b"
people must be content with a spot in their own little world, which may
occupy the moral high ground, but which is invisible to the world at large.
And all the "invisible people" resent the others who are percieved as less
"invisible." They suspect their motives; they question their value as
true "plan b" people; perhaps they even feel, in sort of
reverse-Calvinism, that the progress they have made proves that they didn't
really belong to morally superior "plan b" world in the first place. It's
totally understandable, really.
#9 how do you feel aobut the 'accept everyone' message of most punk
communities and most zines (like MRR) and their 'anti-christian' attitudes?
I've never felt an "accept everyone" message from punk rock institutions.
MRR always struck me as yet another club which would never accept me as a
member. The "anti-Christian" rhetoric is usually not well-thought-out
enough to be taken seriously. It originally entered the repertoire of the
self-styled radical as form of nihilism, "anti-Christian" meaning
"anti-civilization." Now it's part and parcel of the reified set of
cliches that one adopts when one joins such a subculture. Being a cliche,
it has lost virtually all of its shock value, except for extremely
sensitive souls. It's a relic of the radicalism of ages past; it's still
anti-civilization, but nobody cares anymore.
Anyway, I hope this helps you out.