Mecca Normal Press Kit


Mecca Normal. Photo by Sean Raggett

Jean Smith – vocals
David Lester – guitar

In 2019, “I Walk Alone” was featured on Better Things and it was on the New York Times “Riot Grrrl United Feminism and Punk” list of “25 songs that fueled a rock revolution”

13 or so albums on K Records, Kill Rock Stars and Matador

Irritated by the standard four-guys-on-stage scene in the early 1980s, Mecca Normal – Jean Smith and David Lester – formed their voice-and-guitar duo with one thing on their mind. Changing the world. Weirdly, they succeeded.

Jean Smith turned her zine Smarten UP! – A How to Change the World Publication – into a record label to release the first Mecca Normal LP in 1986.

“I Walk Alone” from the first LP (1986, Smarten UP! re-released by K Records)

Frequently cited as an inspiration to the co-founders of Riot Grrrl, Smith regularly spoke from the stage between songs in the 80s and 90s, encouraging women in the audience to form bands of their own, and a few key figures did just that. “Jean Smith was really poetic and had feminist ideas at the core of a lot of her songs and she wasn’t ashamed of it. And when I saw her, I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill (The Fader, 2010)

In 2016, Mecca Normal opened three shows for The Julie Ruin (two Bikini Kill members) at which Kathleen Hanna said from the stage: “Their music is still as relevant as it was 25 years ago when I first saw them. It makes me happy that their music is still relevant because they’re doing it better than ever. And their new songs are so fucking great and hilarious.”

“I Am Here” opening for The Julie Ruin, 2016

Mecca Normal’s most recent album LIVE in Montreal 1996 was released in March of 2019 on Toronto-based Artoffact Records.

Jean and David’s incredible creative partnership continues, but its focus is currently visual art. David is working on a graphic novel about Emma Goldman and Jean is selling her 11 x 14″ $100 USD paintings on FaceBook. Money from sales (above her expenses) is going towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change in western Canada. 800+ paintings have sold so far.

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Jean Smith’s paintings on the LP insert for LIVE in Montreal 1996

Guitar player David Lester is the author / illustrator of “The Listener” graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011) and the illustrator of “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike” (Between the Lines, 2019)

Illustration by David Lester from “1919. A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike”

“Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed.” – Douglas Wolk

Most recent studio LP produced by KRAMER, “Empathy for the Evil” (2014, M’lady’s Records)

In April 2009, Mecca Normal celebrated its 25th anniversary with 25 shows in 25 days, including university and high school presentations of “How Art & Music Can Change the World” – an event intending to inspire audiences to consider adding political content to their creative self-expression.

As part of the regional D-I-Y scene in the 1980s, Mecca Normal co-founded the Black Wedge – anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians “setting wild hearts free, spreading the damn difficult word of how to combine poetry with activist resistance culture”. At the Black Wedge show in Olympia (1986) Jean and Calvin met and traded LPs – Mecca Normal’s first album for the first beat happening record.



David Lester Interview

North by Northwest (CBC Radio) interviews illustrator David Lester about “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike”


1919 Winnipeg

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