Where Were You: The Mekons

Jul 16, 2015

We're better off crafting our own things in isolation. The best times when the band has really been? When we thought nobody was that interested in us, so I think that's when the really creative moments have come about, when we didn't think there was anything at stake, when we could just do what we wanted. - Jon Langford

Rumor has it, they once asked a bass player to leave because he was too good.  

The Mekons have been called many things: sonic adventurers, exuberant luddites, willing outcasts ... and the most revolutionary group in the history of rock 'n' roll. They have no leader (but that's because everyone is a leader) they don't separate themselves from their audience, there are no breakups and no scandal, and no drug addiction. Their music is a mixture of unbearable sadness with a lining of optimism, tinged with the kind of political pessimism (they did, after all, revive in 1984 to support the miners' strike against Thatcher) and undeniable hope that fuels the punk scene. 

The Mekons formed almost 40 years ago in Leeds, England, and continues to play around the world. And still, they are a band best known for not being known. We spoke to Jon Langford and Sally Timms about the band, the music, the rumors, and about Joe Angio's 2014 documentary Revenge Of The Mekons.

You can go to see Revenge Of The Mekons tonight at 8pm, at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- and hear the Mekons play at 3S on July 24th at 8pm -- it's certainly a film and a show you won't want to miss.

I just kind of got inducted into the band. If you waited long enough and hung around long enough than you would inevitably end up being in the Mekons. Even you would, Virginia, if you were around just long enough you would be in the Mekons, it just seems to kind of absorb everyone by osmosis somehow. - Sally Timms

Revenge Of The Mekons is a 2014 documentary by Joe Angio, as much history and documentary as a celebration of the band. Jon Langford, however, joked that he might have preferred "if they'd hired young, attractive actors to read a scripted version of what we thought the Mekons were about."

You can read more about the film in Rolling Stone:

If you want to catch up on your favorite Mekons songs before the show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, we compiled a list of (only some of) the Ten Best Mekons songs. A band known for not being known, and yet one of the most legendary bands in the history of punk-rock. As Jon Langford told the Chicago Tribune in 1991, "the key to our success is the lack of success. we survived becuase we weren't supposed to survive."

I think for an outsider, I would say that the thing that I would take away from it, if I were looking at us, is that you can persevere in the face of obstacles and still be able to do things that have value in the world. And value to me isn't how much money you make, so that would be a success in my opinion, that we're still about to do this. - Sally Timms

(Some of) The Ten Best Mekons Songs

Where Were You

Curse of American Astronauts 

Never Been In A Riot

Memphis, Egypt 

The Curse

Hard To Be Human

Waltz

Club Mekon

Chivalry 

Big Zombie