The Mekons are a British-American rock band. Formed in the late 1970s as an art collective, they are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands. Through the years, the band's musical style has evolved, incorporating aspects of country music, folk music, alternative rock and occasional experiments with dub. They are known for their raucous live shows. The Mekons are often described as a post-punk or alt country band.
The band was formed in 1977 by a group of University of Leeds art students: Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh - the Gang of Four and Delta 5 formed from the same group of students. They took the band's name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950s-1960s comic Dan Dare (printed in the Eagle). The band's first single was "Never Been in a Riot", a satirical take on the Clash's White Riot. For several years the loose-knit band played noisy, bare-bones post-punk, releasing singles on a variety of labels. The Mekons' first album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, was recorded using the Gang of Four's instruments, and due to an error by the Virgin Records art department, featured pictures of the Gang of Four on the back cover. After 1982's The Mekons Story, a compilation of old recordings, the band ceased activity for a while, with Langford forming The Three Johns. Corrigan became a tour manager for many years before founding a company that provides visa and immigration services specialising in the entertainment industry.
The Mekons Rock and Roll was the band's first major label release. Issued by A&M Records in 1989, Rock and Roll was not a commercial success, but it was met with critical acclaim.
Just as the Mekons began to grow in critical stature, their relationship with A&M Records became tense, and the Mekons were soon dropped by the label, unable to fulfill their commercial expectations. However, they continued to record at a prolific rate, releasing such notable albums as 1991's The Curse of the Mekons, 2000's Journey to the End of the Night, and 2002's OOOH!Natural moved the band to a more folk-flavoured sound. In April 2009 the Mekons returned to the studio to complete a new collection of songs, released in 2011 as Ancient and Modern on Bloodshot Records.
In a September 2010 interview, Jon Langford revealed that new Mekons album called Ancient & Modern was recorded and that the band would tour the United States in 2011.
In a February 2011 interview, Langford discussed the music documentary about the band, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio. The film premiered in 2013 at the DOC NYC festival with members of the band in attendance.
The band has toured and recorded with a mostly unaltered lineup (Langford, Greenhalgh, Timms, Goulding, Bell, Edmonds, Honeyman, and bassist Sarah Corina) throughout the 1990s and early 21st century, and has a highly devoted following. Starting in 2015, Dave Trumfio, of Chicago and Southern California, replaced Corina on bass.
Their second single, "Where Were You?" was featured in 2016 in an Acura commercial.
The Mekons celebrated their 40th anniversary with the "Mekonville" festival near Ipswich, UK, with both the current 2017 line-up and the re-united original 1977 lineup performing. At that festival, Mekonville, a 12-inch "split single" was released, with one new song from each of the two lineups. The 1977 line-up, as "The Mekons 77", also performed several days later at Blackpool's Rebellion 2017, andwith more gigs in 2018 in the UK. In early 2018, Mekons 77 released the LP "It Is Twice Blessed", which had been recorded in early 2017. The "current" line-up, still as "The Mekons", also performed several concerts in the UK and elsewhere in Europe in July and August, 2017. Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh are the only members common to both line-ups.
In 2014, some of The Mekons, dubbing themselves the "mini-Mekons", along with Robbie Fulks, went to northern Scotland to perform, sample the local whisky, and write and record an album on the island of Jura, in the studio of world and roots producer Giles Perring, a long term collaborator with Mekon Susie Honeyman in the band Echo City. The record, named Jura, was released in November 2015 on Black Friday and is made up of original songs written on the trip, traditional songs, and a new recording of one Mekons song.
2017: Mekonville: "How Many Stars Are Out Tonight" b/w "Still Waiting" - (Sin/Slow)
1980: Mutant Pop (PVC/Jem), a US reissue of various early Fast Product singles, including the Mekons first 7", Never Been in a Riot b/w 32 Weeks, as well as Where Were You?, both first released in 1978.
1985: "They Shall Not Pass" CNT Miner's Strike compilation includes "Fight The Cuts" and "This Sporting Life"
1986: The Mekons Story--re-released in 1993/2008
1987: Mekons New York (ROIR) -- re-released in 1990/2001 as New York: On the Road 86-87
1989: Original Sin (Rough Trade Records) -- Collects together Fear and Whiskey, parts of The English Dancing Master,Crime and Punishment EP, and Slightly South of the Border EPs
1999: I Have Been to Heaven and Back: Hen's Teeth and other lost fragments of unpopular culture, Vol. 1 (Quarterstick Records)
1999: Where Were You? Hen's Teeth and other lost fragments of unpopular culture, Vol. 2 (Quarterstick Records)
2001: The Curse of the Mekons/Fun '90--combined reissue