The story of Mecano starts with a painting, made in 1977 by founder Dirk Polak after finding an old booklet belonging to a Meccano construction box, as fabricated and sold in the thirties.While scanning the booklet, Dirk was struck by a vision of a world built out of Meccano, in painting, sculpture and even lyrics and music.
In the years before Lego existed, Meccano was very popular amongst parents, as they believed that Meccano was not just a toy, but an educative tool for schoolboys with technical abilities. An average box consisted of iron strips, wheels and plates with holes in it, based upon half an inch distance in between. It was designed “for the engineer of tomorrow” and patented in 1901 by Frank Hornby, who advertised it in the swollen tone that colored the first decades of the century and promised membership of “the Meccano Guild” and “unlimited possibilities as the system itself”.
The examples in the instruction booklet set Dirk to paint his Meccano figures, surrounded by surrealistic landscapes and interiors. In those days punk was booming and Dirk thought it was time to start a band and together with Pieter Kooyman and a few hired guns he recorded Face Cover Face, b/w Fools as Mecano Ltd. for the “No Fun” label. But Dirk wanted a real band and so he asked Ton Lebbink to be the drummer. Ton, who was a bouncer at Paradiso in Amsterdam and thus knowing everbody on the scene, immediately introduced the brothers Tejo and Cor Bolten, who also worked at Paradiso, Tejo as floor-manager and Cor, who was a bouncer too and were standing right next to him as he spoke and the band was formed in the blink of an eye. Before that, Dirk was close with Pieter, who was in the short lived “God's heart attack” and also “The Helmettes” and had a single out that was produced by Dirk and so Mecano showed up with 2 guitarists.
Another advantage of Ton and the Bolten brothers, beside their musical abilities, was that they had unlimited acces to Paradiso, the best rehearsing place a band could think of and they started experimenting and putting the music together, mainly based on the ideas of Dirk and the Bolten brothers.