He was really mad

PP: The band has had its share of lineup changes, how do you assess the current lineup?

DF: I think its the best yet. So many people have quit, it's like quitting the Mr. T Experience is a badge of honor. I don't blame anyone for quitting, it's hard to be a member of the Mr. T Experience. I kinda feel like they graduate. I'm like the Mr. Dixon of punk, I get my class in and teach them everything I have to offer and they have a wonderful year and then eventually move on. They get promoted, graduate to different schools. We do shows now and Aaron or Jon Von will be there and it's like the alumni are coming back, we hit 'em up for money every now and then. Our new bassist Joel is dynamite, he just graduated from high school. He's been listening to this band since he was about ten, he was basically bred to be in the band. He knew all the songs and has been basically gearing up for this his whole life. We couldn't find anyone to play bass for us for quite a while and I met him by chance at Gilman one day. I was there hanging out and he came up and asked if we were still together and I told him no because we couldn't find a bass player. He said "Well, I play bass", and as soon as he showed up it was like the moment he started playing there was divine intervention. He's fairly in tune with the conceptual thing as well, which is rare, he gets it. I kind of feel like we had some little guardian angel who provided Joel to save MTX from extinction. The main reason this lineup is so great is because it's like three people who get it, and like it. You know, it's a strange thing to be in this band, you may have heard I'm a strange guy. The whole way of doing things is probably a lot different from a lot of bands. The band has been around like nine years and the consistent theme or pattern has stayed the same: There's basically no reason to be doing what you're doing, but you do it anyway. For some reason, for whatever motivation that ends up being kinda cool. You end up in this place where there's no reason for a punk rock band to be playing at all but you play it anyway. It ends up being cool, not necessarily a financially successful venture but it's these moments that are just amazingly weird and you can't explain it or recreate it. Thats why I like to do this.

PP: What's the biggest misconception about your band?

DF: Hmm, well I put a lot of time and effort into songwriting. Really, I take it pretty darn seriously. I think a lot of people are surprised to hear that. They just think, anyone who's into the band thinks "these are just a bunch of stupid songs". It's only after they really sit down and listen and read the lyrics when they realize just how stupid these little things are. You have to really try hard to be that stupid, I think a lot of people don't recognize that. Or they do see it and think "Wow, this guy really is an idiot" to be spending all this time and effort on something halfway inteligent people would have given up on a long time ago. Another thing is there's this weird like 60s counterculture thing that your music is your platform for the message you speak. A lot of that still hangs on and when you think aboit it that's not music, that's a political platform or something. I think that puzzles people, especially with punk bands like us that don't do that. A lot of people are looking for that, "what are you saying...?, what do you mean? tell us what you want us to do.....". They're either saying that or they'll say "How could you tell people to do that because they should be listening to what I want them to do!!!" That's what throws people with this band, I just write from this point of view, this general experience or maybe even a character to write this song. I try to do it in an amusing or catchy way that sums it up but it's not really my position on how one should live their life or how one ought to do things. This whole "Ought To" thing is kind of alien. I think a lot of people who have kind of an immature political outlook, which includes a lot of people in punk rock, don't get it. We have a real degenerate political culture in this country in general but it seems even more so in the fringe groups than in the mainstream. Its just sillier. There's a whole lot more to life than whether or not you check the yes or no box by the left wing or right wing political slogan of the day. Some people expect this call to action or whatever from bands and when there isn't they think "Oh well, there's nothing going on with them". Some people have a tough time latching on to the fact that it can be just music too. I mean, a message? People will ask me, "What's your message?" and it's like of all the people to ask that, I really don't wanna have a message. That would be terrible.

PP: Have you, over the years, ever had a chance to meet uo with the bad man, your namesake himself?

DF: No unfortunately. It's funny, I don't even think about it anymore but a lot of people say they don't even associate the band with the guy anymore. I guess he's slipped out of culture or whatever. The name was kinda this accidental thing. We didn't know we were a real band, we made the record as a joke and a lot of people liked it and that was the name on the record so we stuck with it. There was kind of a concept behind it because ten years ago, Mr. T was like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers of today and he had all these products. There was like Mr. T air fresheners, socks, cereal, deoderant, and whatever. We thought we'd be the punk rock band, just another in the long line of products. Ok, (laughs) not a great concept, but hey.... One of our records, the title was "Too Late To Change the Name". The closest we've had to an encounter was on one of Mr. T's recent comeback attempts he had a new comic book out. He was doing the comic book shop tour, signing it and all that and he came to this one store in Santa Rosa. A lot of them brought their Mr. T Experience records to autograph. He was really mad, he threatened to beat up a kid, he was really, really upset. He didn't take it in a kind, loving spirit, he was ready to bust some heads. Some wonderful person was wise enough to snap a photo of this so there is actually a photo of Mr. T himself holding up a copy of our first LP which has a little cartoon of him on it. That photo is part of the packaging in the reissue of that record. So, if you buy the record, you can see this for yourself. All you kids can pitch in to buy this and our mothers can finally have those operations or at least keep me able to buy hot dogs from the donut store.