Monthly Archives: July 2014

30 Years Today


30 YEARS ago TODAY, Mecca Normal played its first show.

On July 27, 1984, long after Vancouver’s “punk” scene was over, Mecca Normal opened for D.O.A. at the Smilin’ Buddha and then this strange account of the show appeared in the weekly music paper saying that D.O.A. had played “mecca normal” songs that night. A correction was printed the following week.

And that was just the beginning of the 30 years of weirdness and intensity that continues to this day.

Turns out that working with David Lester is the best decision I ever made.

Video: One Man’s Anger

“One Man’s Anger” is the sixth song on Mecca Normal’s new album “Empathy for the Evil” out September 16, 2014 on M’lady’s Records

The lyrics are directly out of Jean Smith’s novel “Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage.”

Produced by KRAMER. Recorded in Miami Beach by Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room in November, 2012.

Jean Smith vocals (and a bit of piano, sax and guitar)
David Lester: guitar
KRAMER: bass on all tracks (with mellotron, synth and organ)

Press Kit: photos, liner notes, videos, lyrics

Video by Jean Smith

Summer Tour 2014 Photos

David Lester, Calvin Johnson, Jean Smith, Tobi Vail in Portland at the Red and Black Café.


More Boating with Clyde photos




More photos from the Summer Tour

Video: “One Man’s Anger” live

“One Man’s Anger” is on the new Mecca Normal album “Empathy for the Evil” (M’lady’s Records, September 2014).

PRESS KIT: videos, lyrics, photos, liner notes

The lyrics for “One Man’s Anger” are directly out of Jean Smith’s novel “Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination & submission in a small town garage” (literary fiction). Jean Smith is represented by the Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency.

Our last show on this short tour was the Unknown Music Festival in Anacortes. It was great to see people we know. Bret and Denise, Phil and Genevieve, Arrington, Mariella and a few others. We didn’t have much of a chance to talk to anyone though.

I was going to video and record (with the Zoom H4n), but we had very little time between sets, so I opted for video only.

With a couple hundred people sitting on the floor, a handful of people on benches along the walls and a few more standing at the very back, I carefully positioned the camera on the end of a table on the side of the hall. It was difficult to figure out where Dave and I would be on stage because the red velvet curtains were still closed, so I went for a wide shot.

During our set I happened to look in the direction of the video camera and noticed that someone had brought a chair over and positioned themselves in front of the camera. Damn. Later that night, back at the motel, I rewound a bit of the video to see if I got anything of use. It seems like the camera must have gotten bumped off-center at some point, but I did manage to get a nice shot of a guy wearing a neck brace. Thank god someone else decided to sit in the static space to the left within the first quarter of the song. You know, after a session of hugging between two other folks.

The guy with the neck brace blocks some of me and all of Dave for the entire set and this seemed like the most hilarious thing in the world at the end of the night, back at the motel with cheese burgers, fries and chocolate shakes in the middle of the night.

I know it’s totally goofy to post this without Dave in the shot, but there’s something about it I like.

Portland Mercury

“Of all the bands that emerged from the vibrant ’90s underground scene, the one that’s most unfairly glossed over is Mecca Normal. It’s likely something to do with the Canadian duo’s uncompromising sound: the slashing guitar chords of David Lester snapping at singer Jean Smith’s challenging feminist lyrics and fearless singing. It was blues music filtered through a punk prism. Twenty-plus years later, and the pair haven’t shifted their aesthetic in the least, only calmed it a little. Their most recent album, Empathy for the Evil, was recorded with former Bongwater founder Kramer, who adds a welcome psychedelic tinge that lends a strangely wistful quality to these often stirring political anthems. This show continues M’lady’s Record’s series of shows celebrating the Portland label’s seventh anniversary.” — Portland Mercury, July 16, 2014

Video: Odele’s Bath

“Odele’s Bath” is on the new Mecca Normal album “Empathy for the Evil” (M’lady’s Records, September 2014).

PRESS KIT: liner notes, videos, lyrics, photos, liner notes

The lyrics for “Odele’s Bath” are directly out of Jean Smith’s novel “The Black Dot Museum of Political Art” (literary fiction).

Jean Smith is represented by the Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency

Video: Spider and the Webs

Tobi Vail dedicated a song to Jean Smith at the Portland show!

Spider and the Webs – Leaving Larwrence (To His Waves)

Tobi says, “It’s about the women’s liberation writer and feminist historian Shelia Rowbotham.”

Portland, July 16, 2014 at M’lady’s Records 7th Anniversary Party at the Red and Black Café. Video by Jean Smith.

Tobi Vail – vocals and guitar
James Maeda – bass
Chris Sutton – drums
Bongo Randy – bongos and maracas


Boating with Clyde

Mecca Normal live on Lake Washington (Seattle) at the beginning of a short tour on the west coast in July of 2014. Thanks to Clyde Petersen of Boating with Clyde for welcoming us aboard!

Mecca Normal performed songs from the new album “Empathy for the Evil” and debuted “Anguish/Misogyny” which has grown in intensity since that day. It must be the only sitting down debut Mecca Normal has ever done!


Tour 2014


Mecca Normal shows

Seattle, Washington, July 15 at Hollow Earth Radio
Portland, Oregon, July 16 at the Red and Black Café
Olympia, Washington July 17 at the Little House on the Perry
Anacortes, Washington on Friday July 18 at the Unknown Music Series

Check our FaceBook page for updates and details.

New album Empathy for the Evil
Press Release, Photos, Videos, Lyrics, Liner Notes

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