"There's this great website where all the people who've screwed rock stars write in and rate their sexual performances," says the Mekons singer. "Like people saying how he didn't buy me breakfast, or so-and-so was really bad at such-and-such, or he's under-hung, or whatever. I love that stuff!"
Expressing a unique, well, charm has always been the credo of Timms and the rest of the British-by-way-of-Chicago band during their long, baffling, and gloriously ragged history. Always drawn to the irreverent and the bizarre, the Mekons have spent a generation maintaining the spirit of punk through countless stylistic reinventions that have always kept things interesting, if not properly celebrated.
Lost amid the ballyhoo of punk rock's "Silver Jubilee" of 2002 is the fact that not only are the Mekons celebrating their own 25th anniversary, but with more than 20 albums to their name, they've never gone away in the first place.
"All these anniversaries and we just thought it would be funny to have our own, too," says Timms. "I mean, that's kind of an achievement--25 years and we didn't break up. But we've always been unfashionable, and there's going to be times when we're way more unfashionable than anyone can ever imagine. Actually, it's been when the band has been at its most interesting when no one else has bothered to listen."
For sure, the Mekons have, throughout their intriguing career, never been precious about their legacy, staying true only to their own collective muse. They've blasted their way through every genre of music imaginable--damaged pub-rock, dub-reggae, electronica, subverted roots-pop--with absolutely zero regard for commercial viability. Lots of bands can (and do) make that claim, but for better or worse, the Mekons have the track record to back it up.
As with any career-retrospective tour, the Mekons will be obliged to dust off some of their earliest material, dating back to when the group was a gang of Leeds University revolutionaries with enough left-wing ideology to rival the Clash. Timms, who became part of the ever-changing lineup (always centered around founders Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh) in the mid-'80s, says it will be a riot to take a stab at the early stuff. "They've told me to learn songs that I don't even remember hearing, so I have to go brush up on those," she chuckles.
Though their chops only improved over the years, the Mekons still rate the energy and spectacle of live performances much higher than technical prowess. Their chaotic shows are especially notable for the bawdy, caustic rapport between Timms and Langford--playful insults, not to mention microphones, are known to be hurled between the two.
"Frankly, I could lie on the floor for the whole gig and it would still be okay as long as I managed to sing the songs, and it's a nice feeling of liberty to know that it really doesn't matter," she laughs. "We've done really horrible tours by some people's standards, but I can't say that I've ever enjoyed being on stage more than my moments with the Mekons."
The Mekons play at the Northwest
Airlines Blues Stage at the Mural Amphitheater,