I Wrote Rock and Roll about a Book about Rock and Roll

The release date for King Dork Approximately the Paperback and King Dork Approximately the Album is October 4th, less than a week away. It’s kind of hard to believe. It’s been such a long time coming, yet it still has managed to sneak up on me, as it were. The music part is the first MTX album in twelve years. Pulling that together just on its own took some doing, I can tell you.

But it’s also the realization of a plan that goes all the way back to 2005, when the band had ceased to function along with the entire under- and over-ground music industry, and I started writing what would become the unexpectedly successful novel, King Dork. When Tom Henderson, the book’s narrator, began to write songs in the narrative, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d try to write some of them for real alongside their fictional counterparts in the book. And that’s exactly what happened. I half-finished the novel with a handful of half-written songs.

From there I developed a kind of fantasy vision of my future as a novelist, not unlike the fantasy careers of Tom’s imaginary notebook rock bands. (Just call me Tennis with Guitars.) In this fantasy vision, the book I was typing at Cato’s Ale House would become a smash success, and I would use this success and my new position as a Literary Big Name to organize the recording and release of a parallel album of songs from the book, bringing my band back from the dead. The two things would function as complementary iterations or… “faces”, maybe, of the same grand project, the same story. Fans of the songs could learn more about them by exploring the novel that gave rise to them, while my legions of readers could deepen the literary experience by hearing the fictional songs “made flesh.” (And maybe dancing around the room in their underwear, because they’re nerds and they probably need to get out more. i.e., Literature, the way it was obviously meant to be.) I imagined a massive rock and roll book tour, sixty cities plus, with library and bookstore visits in the day, rock and roll shows in the evenings, readings on the stage at the Fillmore, surprise punk rock pop up shows at the Millbrae Library or Powell’s. Hollywood, New York, Stockholm, the whole deal. Media and merch tie-ins as far as the eye could see: basically, James Joyce meets Gene Simmons, meets Don Kirshner, meets Ron Popeil.

In my fantasy I had re-invented the novel as a trans-media “experience”, the Great American Young Adult Novel with Guitar; and I had reinvented the rock album as a virtual LP with a whole novel inside the imaginary gatefold cover instead of mere liner notes by some guy from Rolling Stone. Books, records, and shows would never be the same. I was really something. Soon everyone would be doing it, I was sure.

You guys all do that kind of thing, too, the semi-ironic grand fantasy that only sets you up for a more profound anti-climax when actual events play out. I mean, don’t you?

But the craziest part is that a bit of it did in actual fact come true, sort of. I mean, King Dork was an undeniable critical, media, and commercial success. It made a genuine impact on popular culture, the real popular culture, not just the imaginary one in my head. The other half of the fantasy, though, proved much more difficult to pull together, so difficult that I all but gave up on even the fantasy, let alone actually trying to do it. Though bits of the unfinished songs did trickle out in various forms, such as half-assed acoustic versions of some of them as bonus tracks on the audiobook, and performances in empty Barnes & Nobleses across the country, the full album never materialized. Nor did the radical reconstitution of the music and publishing industries, and of Art itself. Boy, did that ever not materialize.

Well, how could it? Who would pay for it? Who would buy it? Who would care about it all? Surprisingly, having a successful novel doesn’t mean you automatically have a whole bunch of guys in suits banging on your door saying “here’s some money to record an album to go along with your book, plus a detailed plan on how to make that happen.” Plus, rousing the beast and getting it moving at all was always a pretty big, unlikely undertaking in itself. And by beast, I mean the Mr. T Experience.

But somehow, ten years later, a version of it has materialized. It may be just a bit smaller than the grandiose fantasy outlined above, but that it happened at all is pretty amazing. I’m lucky to have had so much help making it happen, from my bandmates most of all, but from dozens of others as well. It turns out you don’t need the guys in the suits. Help and goodwill from the community of people who have liked your songs and books for years and years can help you do it on your own, or a version of it anyway. And if it doesn’t quite turn the whole world inside out as it did in the fantasy, at minimum we all get a new MTX album out of the deal, something I was also pretty sure would never happen.

So, I thank you.

Now, because there’s still confusion (always with the confusion, people) here’s how it’s going to work.

The release date for the paperback edition of King Dork Approximately the Novel is October 4th, 2016. It costs $9.99. When you get your hands on the book (preferably by buying it) you’ll find the url of a download page and a code to enter. Enter it, and a zip file of King Dork Approximately the Album will download to your hard drive. If you buy the book from the Sounds Radical website, you can download the album instantly, just as you might if you bought it from iTunes or the like, and listen to it while you wait for the physical book to arrive in the mail. There are two singles that we are releasing to the “services,” “Cinthya (with a Y)” and “High School Is the Penalty for Transgressions Yet to Be Specified.” You can buy these on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc. Up till January, though, the only way to get the rest of the album is through the book download procedure outlined above. This record is really, really tied to the book and I’m not gonna let you forget it if I can help it, at least not while we’re on tour and have a merch table.

In January, there will be a general digital release, meaning the whole album will be up on iTunes, spotify, etc. For those who feel it is worth waiting a few few months for the opportunity to pay the same price for the sound files without the book, January is your moment.

In April, the vinyl version of the album will be released by Sounds Rad, augmented with extra tracks and other cool peripheral stuff.

My hope is that by April this will have laid the groundwork for a subsequent (non book) MTX album as well as subsequent King Dork books. (The grand fantasy there is: six more books, with guitar, ending with King Dork Superstar, in which Tom is 42 years old. I’ve still got that fantasizing streak, you see.) But that’s a discussion for another time. Help make this work, and maybe the subsequent stuff can have a chance of working, too. And the way to help is, buy, read, and listen. Thanks, and cheers to you all.

Written by

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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