De Stijl Records has re-released Peter Jefferies’ seminal 1990’s album The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (originally released on Xpressway). Congratulations!!
Pitchfork ran a story articulating the greatness of the album with much enthusiasm, but incorrectly stated that Peter and I were at one time married. The author (who turned out to be a Mecca Normal fan) changed this and asked when the new Mecca Normal album might be out.
Then I saw a reference to Mecca Normal and 2 Foot Flame being from “here” presumably meaning the USA (as opposed to “there” — meaning New Zealand). To clarify, Mecca Normal is from Vancouver, Canada and 2 Foot Flame formed (and recorded one of its two albums) in New Zealand with its three members from New Zealand and Canada. Both bands were on Matador, a US record label.
Peter was a fan of Mecca Normal’s before we’d heard his music, but what an introduction The Fate of the Human Carbine was as we were driving around Europe on one of our mid-90s tours. Our tour manager, Dirk Hugsam, was trying to bring Peter to Europe and his English wasn’t great at that time, so I offered to phone Peter in New Zealand to tell him he should trust Dirk and do the tour. It was brought up that I should replace the guitar-player that was unable to make the trip, but, at that time, of course we hadn’t even met.
– Between 1994 and 1997, Peter Jefferies and Jean Smith worked together on six albums and toured in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand while living in Vancouver, Canada and Dunedin, New Zealand. Smith and Jefferies were in the studio together within two weeks of meeting and, when they last parted ways, they’d been in the studio the day before.
– Peter Jefferies produced two Mecca Normal albums, The Eagle and the Poodle (Matador, 1996) Who Shot Elvis? (Matador, 1997).
– Peter Jefferies played drums on many of the songs on The Eagle and the Poodle (Matador, 1996) including The Revival of Cruelty.
The Revival of Cruelty
– Peter Jefferies played piano on “All About The Same Thing” on Who Shot Elvis? (Matador, 1997).
– Jean Smith produced Peter Jefferies’ album Elevator Madness (Emperor Jones, 1996) and played guitar on Elevator Madness, Loop and Shut Out, and keyboards on Sunset.
1994 – 1997
April 19, 1994
Mecca Normal meets Peter Jefferies at the Fast Forward Festival in Nijmagen, Holland, about a month after Jean encouraged Peter to take a chance and tour Europe with Dirk Hugsam.
May 1, 1994
Recording in Augsburg, Bavaria, Peter Jefferies played piano on “Vacant Night Sky” and “Cyclone” for the album Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995).
Vacant Night Sky
Mecca Normal books west coast and northeastern US tours with Peter Jefferies.
Jean Smith moves to New Zealand and forms 2 Foot Flame with Peter Jefferies. Michael Morley plays guitar on many of the songs. Mecca Normal tours New Zealand with Peter Jefferies solo and Michael Morley’s Gate (a solo project) after which Mecca Normal and Peter Jefferies tour in Europe where they learn that Matador will release the 2 Foot Flame album (1995).
Peter and Jean move to Vancouver and book a US tour for 2 Foot Flame (Smith, Jefferies and Morley with Peter Jefferies solo and Gate). Much of the second 2 foot Flame album is recorded on that tour, at Larry Crane’s Laundry Rules in Portland, Oregon. The remainder of the album is recorded after the tour at Peter and Jean’s apartment in Vancouver. Ultra Drowning is released by Matador in 1997.
Mecca Normal (with Peter Jefferies on drums), 2 Foot Flame (with David Lester replacing Michael Morley on guitar) and Peter Jefferies (solo) tour the west coast.
Smith and Jefferies tour as 2 Foot Flame in the US from Austin to Boston (Smith plays guitar and sings, Jefferies plays drums and piano at the same time) featuring a now archived live-to-air set on WFMU’s Stork Club. The set includes Peter singing three songs, including “The Other Side of Reason” from The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World — he plays piano and drums at the same time AND SINGS.
Peacock Coal LIVE at WFMU, 1997
Austin to Boston is followed by 2 Foot Flame (the Smith and Jefferies duo) tours in Australia and New Zealand where 2 Foot Flame (the duo) records a third, unreleased, album at Killer Moa Studios in Inglewood, Taranaki.
Jean Smith and Peter Jefferies
Email address for Jean Smith