Musical homecoming: Former Chainsaw Kittens frontman Tyson Meade will play his old stomping grounds at Norman Music Festival
From the decorated dolls in the chandelier to the gorilla mask on the bookshelf, Tyson Meade’s living room boasts a punk-art aesthetic befitting “The Godfather of the Alternative Rock.”
But his home at NW 13 and Gatewood Avenue — across the street from Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips — also is appointed with an aura of finally feeling at home, five years after returning to his home state.
“I love Oklahoma because I absolutely would not be who I was if I hadn’t been born here,” Meade said. “For the most part, I just love … being back.”
The Bartlesville native will make a musical homecoming this weekend in Norman, the old stomping grounds of his pioneering alt-rock bands the Chainsaw Kittens and Defenestration. He will play one of the last sets of the 12th Annual Norman Music Festival at 1 a.m. Sunday inside Opolis.
“The Chainsaw Kittens played the very first one — they flew me back from China to play it,” Meade recalled. “Now when I play … usually the band that I have playing are 20-somethings playing with me, and it’s just so much fun to be on stage with that excitement of youth. I never really would have predicted that.”
Meade is one of more than 300 acts on the lineup for the free, independent festival, set for Thursday through Saturday at several indoor and outdoor venues. Few if any can match Meade’s influence: Kurt Cobain credited Defenestration as an influence on Nirvana, and the Smashing Pumpkins are among the Chainsaw Kittens’ fans.
“The Nixons came up in the early ‘90s and we would sneak in — because we were broke and poor — and we would go watch The Flaming Lips and the Chainsaw Kittens,” said Nixons frontman Zac Maloy, a fellow Oklahoma native now based in Nashville. “That really was inspiring.”
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- Video: Tyson Meade to play his old stomping grounds
Meade never would have predicted 30 years later that his bands would remain so influential.
“I just set out to form a band that I would really want to hear myself,” he said. “I’ve always just gone my own sort of direction — and fortunately, I found guys that would help me.”
After the Kittens disbanded in 2001, Meade’s direction eventually took him for a few months to Saudi Arabia and then for seven years to China.
While his 2014 solo album “Tomorrow in Progress” was inspired by his expatriate existence, his new release, March’s “Robbing the Nuclear Family,” delves into his life back in Oklahoma, where he has learned piano, written his first children’s songs and even run for Congress, losing to eventual victor Kendra Horn.
“I’m at this age where I thought my life would be so much different. I’m in my 50s … but I feel like this is like my creative zenith,” he said. “I’ve had this bizarre life that’s been really amazing.”
12th Annual Norman Music Festival
Where: Various venues in downtown Norman.