Mecca Normal started in 1984 with the express purpose of changing the world. Writer Jean Smith turned her zine Smarten UP! – A How to Change the World Publication – into a record label to release the first Mecca Normal LP in 1986.
“Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed.” — Douglas Wolk In April 2009, Mecca Normal celebrated its 25th anniversary with 25 shows in 25 days, including university and high school presentations of “How Art & Music Can Change the World” – a lecture intending to inspire audiences to consider adding political content to their creative self-expression.
Mecca Normal is known as a fore-runner and inspiration to the riot grrrl movement in the 90s. As part of the regional D-I-Y scene at that time, Mecca Normal co-founded the Black Wedge – anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians “setting wild hearts free, spreading the damn difficult word of how to combine poetry with activist resistance culture”. At the Black Wedge show in Olympia (1986) Jean and Calvin Johnson met and traded LPs – Mecca Normal’s first album (later to be re-issued on K) for the first Beat Happening record.
In 2010 Smith and Lester launched The Black Dot Museum of Political Art with a four-person exhibit in Olympia. In the fall of 2010, Mecca Normal released International Pop Underground Vol. CXXXII, “Malachi and Blue Sky & Branches”. Check the website for lyrics and videos.
Guitar player David Lester is the author of “The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism” — profit from sales have raised over $2000 for the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. David is the publisher at Get To The Point Editions – a small press publishing poetry, graphics and fiction by community activists. His ongoing series of Inspired Agitators posters are featured in both the lecture and the Black Dot Museum of Political Art.
Vocalist Jean Smith is a painter, filmmaker and the author of two published novels. She is the recipient of two Canada Council for the Arts Awards as a writer of creative fiction. She runs Smarten UP! Records, a D-I-Y label for poets and minimalist musicians.
Mecca Normal has released thirteen albums on Matador, Kill Rock Stars Records and K Records.
- Mecca Normal - “Malachi” [IPU132] (2010)
- Mecca Normal - “Paris In April” [IPU068] (1996)
- Mecca Normal - The First LP [KLP038] (1995)
- Mecca Normal - Flood Plain [KLP022] (1993)
- Mecca Normal - Jarred Up [KLP018] (1993)
- Mecca Normal - Dovetail [KLP014] (1992)
- Mecca Normal - “Rose” [IPU032] (1992)
- Mecca Normal - Armchairs Fit Through Doors [IPU028] (1991)
- Mecca Normal - Water Cuts My Hands [KLP008] (1990)
- Mecca Normal - Cardboard Box House Of Love [IPU011] (1990)
- Mecca Normal - Calico Kills The Cat [KLP004] (1988)
- Mecca Normal - Oh Yes You Can [IPU004] (1987)
Also appears on:
From Mecca Normal’s first K release Calico Kills the Cat [KLP004], which has got it all: love, murder, hate, frying pans, jealousy, prison, bullets, bonfires and a blue TV behind the iron curtain. …Mecca Normal - Smile Baby
From the new Mecca Normal International Pop Underground 7″ Malachi [IPU132]…
Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an American musician, free speech and anti-war activist who for many years made high quality recordings of other musicians (often jazz and experimental) performing live in Chicago. He would give a copy to the performers and sometimes these would become official releases. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war at demonstrations and was twice arrested. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest culminated in an act of self-immolation.Mecca Normal - Malachi