Episode 185: Dr. Frank
Frank Portman sends me his new record a few hours before we’re set to meet up at a coffee shop on Market Street. The whole thing came together at the last minute at the tail end of a three week long work road trip, and I only have time to listen to three or four songs before checking out of the hotel and meeting him down the street. But it’s enough. It’s new and familiar. It’s self-deprecating and funny, bouncing sugary pop-punk with a humorously cynical bit. The second song is called “Sadistic Masochism.” It goes, “Sadistic masochism, that’s how its gonna be / Sadistic masochism, baby you and it.” After a dozen years, the Mr. T Experience is back.
It’s a perfect sort of return to music for Dr. Frank, a soundtrack for the sequel to his hit YA book, King Dork. The album, (like the book) titled King Dork, Approximately, finds Portman inhabiting the voice of his protagonist, high school rock musician, Tom Henderson, on 12 songs that are unmistakably the work of the MTX starship. Portman’s time away from the microphone was largely unintentional, the result of a changing record industry, the implosion of the beloved East Bay record label that had served as their longtime home, and a somewhat accidental career as an author. In this extra long edition of RiYL, the artist discusses motel laundry, the publishing industry and not being Green day.