|Origin||Leeds, West Yorkshire, England|
|1977 - present|
|The Three Johns
The Waco Brothers
Rico Bell (aka Eric Bellis)
J. Mitch Flacko/Flacco
Mark "Chalkie" White
|The Mekons 77|
|Origin||Leeds, West Yorkshire, England|
|1977 - 1979; 2017 - present|
Mark "Chalkie" White
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.
By the mid-1980s (revitalised by the 1984 miners' strike) the Mekons had returned as an active group. The band was now augmented by vocalist Sally Timms, violinist Susie Honeyman, ex-Damned member Lu Edmonds, accordionist/vocalist Rico Bell (a.k.a. Eric Bellis), and former The Rumour drummer Steve Goulding. They began to experiment with musical styles derived from traditional English folk (tentatively explored on the English Dancing Master EP prior to the hiatus), and American country music. Fear and Whiskey (1985), The Edge of the World (1986) and Honky Tonkin (1987) exemplified the band's new sound, which built on the innovations of Gram Parsons and blended punk ethos and left wing politics with the minimalist country of Hank Williams. Subsequent albums, such as The Mekons Rock'n'Roll, continued to experiment with diverse instrumentation (notably the fiddle and slide guitar).
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 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 temporarily 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 including Blackpool's Rebellion 2017, and, in April 2018, is scheduled for further gigs in the UK, right after with the release of the new LP "It Is Twice Blessed", which was 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.
Jon Langford is also a visual artist, as is Rico Bell. Langford has worked as the founder and member of several solo and band projects including the Waco Brothers, a punk-meets-Johnny Cash-like ensemble, and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a project that explores the music of Bob Wills, Johnny Cash and others. Besides his solo albums Langford has released CDs with Richard Buckner, Kevin Coyne, The Sadies, Kat Ex (Katherina Bornefeld) of The Ex.
Bloodshot Records is a Chicago, Illinois, record label that has released Mekons solo material by Sally Timms, Jon Langford, Rico Bell and side projects such as the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and The Waco Brothers.
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.
Originally published in 2010
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