Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 35-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
Late last year I got a Facebook notification that someone had mentioned Mecca Normal. The beauty of the faint cultural presence we enjoy is that we see and savor any and all references to our history, whether it’s radio play (a station in Newfoundland recently played all of Flood Plain—what a thrill!) or inclusion in historical overviews that alter our legacy. I bet bigger bands regard a near-constant flow of commentary on their doings as something of a burden to keep track of. Maybe even boring or irritating. And what about those bands that get so big that they’re trapped within their own infrastructure with employees who depend on regular output (albums and tours)? Mecca Normal has always been more of a group (than a band), I think. I regard this weekly collaboration as the work of Mecca Normal as much as any song or show.
It was very early in the morning, and when I clicked on the FB notification, I really did wonder if I was still in dreamland. The video snippet showed a band in London rehearsing “Strong White Male” (“a cover by the amazing Mecca Normal” for a fundraising show two days hence). The band description: “non-binary and female people of colour taking up space. We make DIY punk music.”
“OK Here We Go” from Who Shot Elvis? (Matador, 1997) (download):