Frank Portman is better-known to listeners as “Dr. Frank,” the musical moniker the singer, guitarist, and founding member of The Mr. T Experience has used for close to four decades. Over the course of the seminal Berkeley punk project’s long and accomplished run, the band has managed more than a dozen releases, performed all over the U.S. and Europe, and shared the stage with some legendary acts. Even though there have been lengthy breaks and lineup changes through the years, The Mr. T Experience and its ever-present leader are still releasing music, playing shows to packed rooms (in pre-pandemic times, at least), and influencing new generations of musicians along the way.

Recently, My First Band host Tyler Maas had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Frank about The Mr. T Experience’s impressive over-35-year run, some of the ups and downs the project has experienced through the years, and all his pre-MTX musical endeavors. Over the course of the conversation, Portman talked about the process of collecting “disparate” and hard-to-find Mr. T Experience songs for the third/final volume of its Shards series of releases (pre-order from Sounds Rad now!), the role college radio played in developing his musical taste as a kid, his stint in The Bent Nails in high school, and MTX’s opportunity to open for Green Day on a European arena tour (during which audience members threw sandwiches at him). Before the interview’s end, Dr. Frank also talked about his career as a novelist, where he feels The Mr. T Experience fits in the punk rock pantheon, and much more.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and The Mr. T Experience (“You Alone”).

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