Sensitivity and punk rock aren't likely bed buddies, but during his 10 years fronting the Berkeley punk-pop pioneers the Mr. T Experience, Dr. Frank arranged a blind date that blossomed into a mutually rewarding relationship. On albums like Love Is Dead and Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You (both on Lookout), Fank successfully documented his doormat of a heart to a rowdy backbeat. On his solo album Show Business Is My Life (Lookout), Frank assembles a few personal gems and MTX cast-offs, trims off the sparking wires, and gives them a decent polishing. The result is an album filled with pleasant surprises, his songwriting in full view. Frank's been dubbed the punk-pop Noel Coward and like the cheeky British songwriter, journalists are quick tp praise the clever lyrical twists without fully examining the depth. "[MTX] gets written off and lumped together with bands that are dismissed for writing novelty songs," says Frank. "That's not what we're doing. If you listen and read along with the lyric sheet, you realize there's something going on. When I do my solo shows, you can see the surprise on people's faces. Nobody expects the lyrics to be good in punk rock." Those solo acoustic shows took some warming-up to, Frank adds. "The one thing you have to get used to is that you're not loud enough," says Frank. "The entire room is having these little side conversations. It's like you have a backing soundtrack--clinking glasses, people talking about the 49ers. You're up there singing about how you want to commit suicide and people are talking about the Forty fucking Niners." Show Business Is My Life also collects songs that Frank wrote with other bands in mind. "She Turned Out to Be Crazy" was written for the Queers and put on a shelf until now (The Queers' Joe King guests). "I'm in Love With What's-Her-Name" was written for, and eventually recorded with, the Hi-Fives. Other guests on the album include 'zine architect Aaron Cometbus, Kepi from the Groovie Ghoulies, and Denise and Helen from Me First. Frank gets to indulge his folk/country side that doesn't wash with the wilde joy of the Mr. T Experience. He admits that most MTX songs begin as folk ditties which then get amplified. Show Business displays some in their primordial state. "She All Right" is a folky toe-tapper that Frank credits to Jimmie Rodgers. There's a Byrds influence on "I Made You and I Can Break You." "Bitter Homes and Gardens" is a closeted homage to George Jones. "I've never managed to have a song sound like a country song," says Frank. "I think I came close on 'Bitter Homes and Gardens.'"
Though Frank writes many songs about unrequited love, his own relationship is strong. Does his girlfriend ever get paranoid that the songs are somehow inspired by their relationship? Sure, but there's a solution. "Pray for understanding and forgiveness," advises Frank. "I've learned that praying for understanding and forgiveness and granting an indulgence is your best shot."