Normal History Vol. 452: 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 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Continued from last week

In 1986 some of the women who co-founded Riot Grrrl saw Mecca Normal perform in Olympia. Which is also when we met Calvin Johnson of K Records, who ended up putting out quite a few of our records. Here’s 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 out this series of videos 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!

“It’s Important” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):