Mecca Normal's 10th CD, The Family Swan, is out on Kill Rock Stars.
Produced by Dave Doughman of Swearing At Motorists.
Mecca Normal is overwhelming in art galleries, taking over classrooms, elemental in nightclubs, and subversive in book stores. Steering off the straight and narrow, we're using Mecca Normal to illuminate underground culture and rites of passage.
“Your set (IMC, Urbana, April, 2002)
was stunning. Easily one of the best performances
I've ever seen, and the new songs are absolutely
vital--I can't wait for the new record. I brought a
few friends with me that night, none of whom had
even heard of you, and now they're all buying your
CDs--you won some serious converts that night.”
Tim Feeney, of Context magazine
Mecca Normal website
Notes on new songs
Jean Smith, Publicist
Ice Floes Aweigh
Not just an underground rock duo
Jean Smith (vocals) David Lester (guitar)
The inclusion of artwork on tour creates a more complete vision of the
multi-layered partnership based on Mecca Normal. Jean and David have been visual artists for 20 years.
Inspired Agitators, is a series of posters outlining the philosophies of a
selection of international activists. This collection represents inspired moments in history when: an Indian Nation wore down the U.S. government, an artist defied the Nazi party, women achieved the right to vote, a socialist government was elected in North America, universal healthcare was implemented, a union for all was organized, a woman was finally accepted legally as a person, a black man fought public lynchings. History is embedded with obstacles that must have seemed insurmountable. Yet, again and again, battles are waged in climates of indifference, hostility and brutality.
Kill Rock Stars has a feature on David Lester's graphic art
Jean Smith graduated high school with a cash scholarship to attend art school; she went directly downtown, bought a really good stereo, and moved out from under the same roof as her abstract parents, both painters. In 2000, Smith’s series of self-portraits (1973-1999) were shown at Olympia, Washington’s Ladyfest Art Show. The potraits also shown at Ladyfest LA in 2002. Her recent work, Pint Glass, is a series of paintings (vibrant but soft) on cream velvet.
'how art and music can change the world'
Mecca Normal inspires audiences to begin, or maintain, creative expression and cultural activism. While revealing the secrets of their D-I-Y empire, Mecca Normal answers the questions: "Who cares if there's underground culture or not? Gap-Coke-Sony-Time-Warner satisfies our needs.... don't they?" Q&A friendly!
Jean and David collaborate in publishing handmade art books, political graphics, poetry and fiction at Smarten Up! & Get To The Point Publishing.
The Family Swan and other songs is a chapbook of current Mecca Normal lyrics. Jean hand printed the cover from her lino cuts.
Jean is looking for a publisher for her third novel. Check out the synopsis of Living On Eggshells. Many of the lyrics from the new album are directly from the novel. Jean received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to write the book. A condensed version of the novel, ("The End of the Cherrys")
was published in The Rendezvous Reader (Tenth Ave Press, Seattle).
Jean has a short story called We Haven on McSweeney's website
(opening for godspeed you black emperor! in Seattle October, 2000)
“Over the course of nine albums, Smith and Lester have mapped out uncharted territory with bristly obtuseness. Jean Smith is an extraordinary rock poet, turning clichés on their heads with razor-sharp metaphors that slice at commonly held beliefs and systems. She delivers compact short stories over Lester's adventurous music.
Mecca Normal is political in the sense that it challenges the status quo not only with its sometimes harsh aesthetic, but with its content that never stoops to sloganeering in the traditional protest sense, instead broadsiding the listener with complex word-pictures that are thoughtful and eccentric. Hers is not the mass-market fake anger we are accustomed to. It's the outrage of a mature artist, fueled by frustration and genuine intelligence that is humane above all else. Their music is paradoxically intuitive and highly stylized, carefully shaped from the gut. Smith's voice moves from a growl to a caterwaul, a taunt to a confession, wrestling impossibility with a dreamer's mouth.
Lester plays like a condensed one-man Mission of Burma, slashing and stuttering a Tourette's language all his own, creating a simpatico sonic equivalent to Smith's voice. Live, Mecca Normal have an unmatched capacity for incendiary fervor, serving up the exposition and the elemental, destroying it, and then questioning its existence and its nihilism.” THE STRANGER, Seattle
ALBUM REVIEW highlights:
“Mecca Normal have presented a consistent, evolving, and luminous challenge to the reigning social order. **** (four stars, excellent) ROLLING STONE
“When Smith’s phrasing shifts from melancholy to sensual in the space of a heartbeat, augmented by a few Pete Townshend moves courtesy of David Lester, it becomes obvious that Mecca Normal has mastered the art of minimalism.” LOS ANGELES NEW TIMES
“Smith is damn near visionary.” SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY
“When the mix is between brainy lyrics and a meaty beat, between mind and body, pleasure and awareness, that’s when Mecca Normal revs up. Like Odysseus, they have a clarity of vision that’s rare.” VILLAGE VOICE
“Mecca Normal has inspired a larger movement of feminists in their teens and early 20’s who call themselves Riot Grrrls.” NEW YORK TIMES
“Female punk rock fans become united by the feminist messages shouted by bands such as Mecca Normal.” USA TODAY
“I can’t think of anyone else who writes more powerful songs about what it’s like to
be a woman in a world of violence against women.” LOS ANGELES WEEKLY
“Smith is angry with an evil world.” DER SPIEGEL (GERMANY)
“A two-person guerrilla campaign against apathy.” MELODY MAKER (ENGLAND)
“Forget Rancid, Offspring and Green Day. Forget the Sex Pistols. The most important punk band of the 90’s is Mecca Normal.” SACRAMENTO NEWS & REVIEW
“Long before Bikini Kill, the Northwest band Mecca Normal was churning out shards of minimal noise (no bass or drums) with a confrontational edge, and would eventually end up influencing many of Olympia’s current female artists.” LOS ANGELES TIMES
SHOWS and TOURS