Category Archives: Normal History

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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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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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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Video: Held

Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar at Chicago’s Lounge Ax in the mid-1990s. “Held” is from “Dovetail” (K Records, 1992).

Held

You’d be surprised alright
where you could be held
there
pinned in an updraft
back against the clouds

Holding sirens’ rage
on a tangle pain
you didn’t know was there
you didn’t know it was there

Gridwork set up for your wing on rise
to place
where you will be held
back against the light

Hammer on, hammer on
towards never getting back
never getting back
hammer on
hammer on

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Video: This Machine (cover)

West Coast Chalice: Karl Blau, Brian Tottenham, Braydn Krueger, Doug Cassidy, and Jesse.

The original version of “This Machine” is from “Dovetail” (K Records, 1992).

This Machine

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing now
I am touching at the future
with a tin edge hollow stamp

I wove the spin of endurance
knots hanging in black twine
jarred up on a plank shelf
oiled to a (dull) shine

I am wanting (watching)
I am wishing
for wind
to knock this stillness out

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing now

Screaming on track
pounding up loud
dreaming down pipe on a sigh
sifting on freight tight
this machine rides

Making it anything
so it isn’t nothing

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VIDEO: Orange Sunset

“Orange Sunset” from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Video and paintings by Jean Smith.

Orange Sunset

This sunset spreads orange
across the sky
a lid pressing down

In Grand Central Station
pickpockets look for tourist eyes

I am more obvious –
white female
ambassador of lust

He said,
“Come with me
I know
you like to suck and fuck.”

Orange sunset
a lid pressing down

 

 

 

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VIDEO: The Dogs

“The Dogs” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands” (K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Video and paintings by Jean Smith.

The Dogs

My thoughts are chased my dogs
trapped in Instamatic snapshots
their eyes are red in the night
I can see into their mouths
past the teeth
past the teeth

I’m at home in the strangest places
but the sea is just pounding water
trying to get revenge
trying to get revenge

The dogs are barking
running towards me
through a roll of twenty-four exposures

The dogs have questions for me
I don’t know what they are

On the train I heard the sea on the tracks
roaring in a straight line
away from me
away from me

Stop it with the gun
Stop it with the gun
was a philosophy of hers
more than a request
but right now she’d like the kid to quit it
he has a sound-equipped machine gun
pointed at her head
pointed at her head

The dogs have been measured out to me

Some of the snapshots have one big dog
some of the snapshots have two dogs
some of the snapshots have three dogs
I don’t know how many dogs there are
more than three
more the ones my flashcube illuminates

The dogs have questions for me
The dogs have questions for me

Dogs don’t mince words

 

 

 

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VIDEO: Lois Wrote About the Farm

“Lois Wrote About the Farm” by Mecca Normal from “Water Cuts My Hands”(K Records, 1991). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Painting by Jean Smith.

“Lois Wrote About the Farm”

America has named its chickens.
Two of them are called The Twins.

America strings its words together neatly;
it is hiding something big.

The check-out girl says she can’t quit smoking.
She’d have nothing else to do.

America, instigator of The Dream.
In my mind my body aches.

 

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