Video: This is Different

Turns out Gina Birch of the Raincoats loves this song! As a huge fan of the Raincoats, this is really exciting! She asked me what the music was (on FaceBook) in a video of my currently available paintings, so I listed all five songs and she said she hadn’t gotten past the first one, that she’d been playing it over and over. I got her email address and sent her the mp3. In our brief email exchange, she said she loves my paintings — says she’s gonna buy one! I’m not gonna try and hide my excitement here! The Raincoats are hugely important to the formation of Mecca Normal. It’s hard to imagine what we’d be doing if the Raincoats’ records weren’t around in 1984 or so, and much earlier for Dave who lived in London in the very early 80s and knew of them then.

It’s an added thrill that I play cymbal on this song. This is the recording session that Kathleen and Billy (of Bikini Kill) dropped by. We were in the basement of the ABC house in Olympia, recording with Pat Maley. Kathleen and I sang something together, but it didn’t go that well. I was in the bathroom as an isolation booth and I didn’t have any lyrics. There was a bottle of Gold Bond powder on the window ledge so I started singing about “the final days of the gold bond” and for at least a few minutes the “band” was gonna be called Mandarin Atomizer until someone mentioned it sounded like an atom bomb in an Asiatic country, and that was that.

Also, I’m not sure which is weirder. Either I mention that Mecca Normal were total rock stars at this time, and that Kathleen and Billy arrived as fans (and friends) or I don’t mention it. Too late.

“This is Different” from a 3-song 7″ on K Records, Vol. XXVII in the International Pop Underground Series, and Jarred Up, an LP compilation of 7″ records (K Records, 1993).

Jean Smith’s $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) from October 19th back to the beginning of the series (January 7, 2016).

“First, oh my word I love these portraits {acrylic on canvas panel} so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story. Are you wondering what you’re still doing here and why you’re not over there buying a whole bunch of these 11×14 beauties? Me too. Here you go… Jean’s Facebook page. You’re welcome.” – The Jealous Curator review 09/17

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Pat Maley, Kathleen and Billy at the Mecca Normal recording session that included “This is Different”

 

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Review: Butt Rag #7

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Review by Peter Margasak (Editor) Butt Rag #7 (October 1991)

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Video: In the Highly Nuanced Life of the Conqueror

We’ve started working on new songs! This is one of my favourites so far! Words arrived spontaneously while Dave played the fourth or fifth piece of music he’s been working on.

In the Highly Nuanced Life of the Conqueror

In the highly nuanced life of the conqueror

As you can imagine
all the features of life
your whims are manifested
by peons who do your bidding
or maybe you can’t

It’s not something I think about at all
I don’t know about you
It’s not an area of interest

World domination power over others
I could care less
but I guess
there are a lot of things that happen to us
we seek revenge in escape to fantasies
big and small

Where we wield the sword, shoot a gun, hurt someone
now they’re dead
then you move on to the next one
Ya ya ya ya
you’re gonna move on to the next one
and the mayhem continues
and are you feeling better as you move across the landscape
killing, maiming whatever pixels get in your fucking way
or turn the page in the book where the damsel is in distress again
and some guy on a horse is gonna ride by and grab her
and swing her up onto the antiquated saddle thingy

And they ride off and I guess you’re one of them
you’re the guy , you’re the girl, you’re the rescuer, you’re the victim
or sometimes a little of both
a little bit of each
at the same time
Ya ya ya ya
Are you feeling any better?

When you’re living out this violence
that you’ve ingested
instead of
finding other ways and other things to do
Ya ya ya ya
Are you feeling any better
about yourself and any others in your life
that you just can’t seem to talk to?
Ya ya ya ya

In the nuanced life of a conqueror
on a white horse, a black horse, some kind of tank thing
with a gun that’s shooting people that aren’t really people or so you say
or so you say
Ya ya ya ya

Are you feeling?
Are you feeling?
Are you feeling?
What the fuck are you feeling, man?
What the fuck are you feeling?
What the fuck are you feeling?
Are you feeling any better?
I don’t understand.
Ya ya ya ya

Are you feeling any better?
Now that you’ve slaughtered the lot of them
and they’re lying there dead
Ya ya ya ya
they’re lying there dead

Are you feeling any better?
Are you feeling any better?
Are you feeling
any better?

 

 

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Italian article on cinema

Indie-Eye deals with Cinema and Pictures for Music since 2005. It is the first Italian headquarter to deal with video clips daily on the part of those who make them. Exclusive videos, interviews, festivals, reports and audiovisuals produced by Indie-eye. It integrates with the Indie-Eye Cinema Portal

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photo by David Boswell

Mecca Normal, the Canadian duo of Vancouver, is one of the seminal bands of the nineties riot movement. Active from the first half of the 80’s, they produced during their career a series of D.I.Y video clips. inspired by the best American and Canadian underground tradition

Jean Smith and David Lester of Vancouver, Canada, formed the Mecca Normal in 1984, transforming the fanzine curated by Smith himself “Smarten UP! “How to Change the World Publications” on a label, just to publish their first, homonymous album, just two years later.

Speech and guitar duo within the complex context identified in the “nineties” riot grrrl movement, Mecca Normal contributes to the “official inauguration” of the concept with all the women who in 1991 opened the International Pop international convention in Olympia Underground, but they have been in the language since the beginning, with an unambiguous, politically and feminist approach, combining activism with direct forms of expression such as poetry, painting, writing, so that it immediately becomes a reference point inspiration for musicians such as Kathleen Hanna.

Absorbed by Calvin Johnson’s K Records (Beat Happening, Halo Benders), they republish their first Ep titled “Oh Yes You Can,” and immediately produce three video clips to promote it.

Video clips, which will become a distinctive sign in the duo career to date, exploit the techniques, materials, and language of underground cinema (from found footage to gratage, from reduced media to home movies). Regarding “Oh Yes You Can” accompany every EP song, but they do not come close to the longer structured forms (Devo, The The) because they reject the digested form for the market so as to remain fiercely out of touch broadcasting circuits.

Directly by David Lester or Smith himself, who often introduces his work as a painter, are small “expressionist” experiments, in line with the tradition of the American Underground Cinema, with which Mecca Normal and Lester certainly look devoutly, like all the underground American movement born around the musical scene of those years (Dave Markey, Richard Kern) while maintaining a strongly materialistic approach to the images.

Between the spring and summer of 1986, Mecca Normal participates in the Black Wedge Tour along with a crew of poets, anarchists, musicians moving on a bus across the states, bringing together music and political activity. Part of the images contained in the videos, document that journey, while the sounds of that tour can be heard on the Band band band profile.

Tensely D.I.Y. in “Man Thinks Woman”, song and video made in 1987, try to overthrow some gender norms from verbal communication: “Man thinks” woman “when he talks to me / Something not quite right”

In a parallel dimension, compared to a time when “ism” are almost always formal and formally empty to fit into social containers, the Mecca Normal are still active. A sip of fresh water.

Original article in Italian September 19, 2017

(google translator)

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charles aaron

Charles Aaron (former editorial director at Spin) tweeted our video for “I Walk Alone” today.

Live album in the works

Mecca Normal poster Montreal, BNW, 1996Mecca Normal live in Montreal (1996) album (LP, CD, extra tracks on BandCamp) will be released in 2018. Dave found the tape last week and we took it into a studio yesterday to listen to it. Finally, a live album from that era, and it sounds incredible. Until now, not releasing a mid-90s Mecca Normal performance has been one of my biggest regrets.6878

Tentative tracks

1. Water Cuts My Hands
2. Prize Arm
3. Don’t Shoot
4. Tower Island
5. Revival of Cruelty
6. The Dogs
7. Drive At / Peach-A-Vanilla
8. Breathing In The Dark
9. Ribbon
10. Medley: Man Thinks Woman / SWM/ I Walk Alone
11. Armchairs Fit through Doorways
12. When You Know
13. Are You Hungry Joe?
14. Crimson Dragnet

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The Black Wedge 1986 & 87

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West coast line-up, 1986

Black Wedge Tour 1987

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Canadian tour, 1987

David Lester’s Super 8 footage of a stop along the way in the middle of Canada in a Mecca Normal music video.

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Riot Grrrl

I haven’t had any Riot Grrrl queries for a long time, but maybe there’s another round of new interest from what seemed to be new interest a few years back. I got a FaceBook message from 17 year-old Julia in Germany saying she’s working on a school project about Riot Grrrl, hoping I’ll answer questions.

“As I want it to be as authentic as possible and mirror the mindset of Riot Grrrl and show what it really meant for all those girls, I’m trying to reach out to as much people of the movement as possible. You are one of them. ”

Well… here’s my message back which intends to make a connection between “all those girls” and present day activities connected to RG as opposed to simply looking back at it as history. Done. Past.

Hi Julia!

Mecca Normal (my band) is frequently referred to as an early inspiration to the co-founders of Riot Grrrl, but we weren’t a Riot Grrrl band. We’d already been playing, touring and recording since 1986. We had our own thing going called The Black Wedge — anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians on tour in an old school bus.

In 1986 some of the women who co-founded RG saw Mecca Normal perform in Olympia. Which is also when we met the guy who wanted to put out our records on his label. Here’s a link to the first Mecca Normal show in Olympia where a future member of Bikini Kill — drummer Tobi Vail — first saw us. I think she would have been about your age at the time — or younger! I was in my mid-20s.

We hadn’t done many shows at this point, but as we continued on with songs about feminism and social justice, I spoke more from the stage — and in interviews — to encourage young women to get together with their friends and start bands, to write lyrics about their experiences in the scene and in society. There weren’t very many women in bands at that point.

Our first album was out at that time (on my own label) and one of the main songs on it was “I Walk Alone” — which we still perform at our live shows to this day!

It seems there is a lot on the internet about Riot Grrrl. Maybe check this series of video interviews put out by the EMP museum (Experience Music Project) in Seattle. If you search through their material on YouTube you’ll see other Riot Grrrl interviews that should be of interest to you.

Here’s Mecca Normal opening for Kathleen Hanna’s band The Julie Ruin in Portland last year. A new song about feminism.

Good luck with your project, and I hope this helps!
Jean

The Jealous Curator

 

 

It was a thrill to have 5 of my paintings featured on The Jealous Curator‘s blog today.

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“First, oh my word I love these portraits {acrylic on canvas panel} so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story. Are you wondering what you’re still doing here and why you’re not over there buying a whole bunch of these 11×14 beauties? Me too. Here you go… Jean’s Facebook page. You’re welcome.” – The Jealous Curator

$100 USD paintings currently available

Singer #4 by Jean Smith throwsilver@hotmail.comNo Hat 200 500No Hat 167 500No Hat #116 by Jean Smith throwsilver@hotmail.comNo Hat #79 by Jean Smith throwsilver@hotmail.com

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7″ record covers

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Cardboard Box House of Love 7″ (K Records, 1990) art by Jean Smith

Malachi (K) 2010,Paris In April (K) 1996, The Bird That Wouldn’t Fly (Matador) 1995, Echo (Jettison) 1993, Rose (K)…

Posted by Mecca Normal on Saturday, May 11, 2013

All Mecca Normal 7″ covers

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