Normal History Vol. 535: The Art Of David Lester

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.

One of the things that comes up in this comprehensive (two-hour) radio interview that David and I did recently on CKUT (McGill University, Montréal) is that when we tour, we typically go to a college or university radio station on our way into whatever city we’re playing. We do our own booking, so we’re free to structure events to make time for radio, which, we typically use to focus on topics (feminism, grassroots organizing, poverty) other than selling albums (which is perhaps atypical). 

I’m pretty sure we also talked about Smarten UP!, the zine I started in the early-’80s, with the tag line: A How To Change The World Publication, and that’s still the course we’re on. The zine became a label. Onstage, I spoke a lot between songs. We sought out print media, radio and TV interviews to illuminate the idea of women forming bands that focused on their experiences in culture and society, and the idea that it is possible to change the world. I figure we’d have gone on being a band without the riot-grrrl energy, but it definitely re-vitalized our role and purpose, blasting feminism into the future as the New York Times states.

“The Message” from The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):