Going on 30 years together now, underground provocateurs Mecca Normal are still at it pushing buttons with their art-minded and politically charged music. But those more familiar with the searing, rough-hewn sound of Mecca Normal’s best-known works might be surprised to the hear the layered melodies and expansive compositions of Empathy for the Evil, the Vancouver duo’s first full-length effort in eight years. What’s a constant here, though, is the intellectual depth and socially engaged intensity that Jean Smith and David Lester have been known for across numerous artistic media. PopMatters caught up with Smith to find out more about the concepts behind Empathy for the Evil and how her and Lester’s work in writing and visual arts relate to their music. Empathy for the Evil is releasing on September 30 via M’lady’s Records and Mecca Normal embark on a new tour this week (see the dates below). Their new video for the album track “Between Livermore & Tracy” premieres here on PopMatters.