Keith Matheson: Breakdown of Writing Process for Kekker’s “Parachute”

Tullio Crali, Before the Parachute Opens (1931)

In my review for Kekker’s “Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2,” I flagged the track “Parachute” as being a unique, distinctive addition to the album. I spoke with Keith Matheson about the song and asked about his inspiration for creating it. He kindly shared the following:

Spanning the early to mid 20th Century, Italian Futurism was a school of art that glorified motion, aggression, and modern culture. Though Futurist paintings resembled the Cubist paintings of their French neighbors, the fracturing of Futurist image was less reflective of a deconstruction of the image and more indicative of the speed and motion of and around the objects inside the paintings themselves. This technique was also used to create a disconnect or tension between the clarity of the event and the way it is remembered afterwards.

Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali, is a prime example of this school of art. In the painting, a solitary parachute soldier plummets toward the ground below. The painting feels kinetic and dynamic, and the use of distortion lines gives the impression of a funnel of air through which the soldier is falling.

These lines also direct the viewer’s line of vision toward the top left corner of the piece, where a small town is hidden under the soldier’s knee. The overall effect is one of intense aggression and heroism, as if the lone soldier was a form of human bomb rushing toward impact with the enemy country below.

I had come across this image of a painting by Crali in a random image search back in the earky 2000s when I was at uni studying interior design and I fell in love with the graphic quality of it. I remember thinking ‘what a great song title and image for a single sleeve’ then promptly forgot all about it.

Jump forward to 2018 and I’m sitting in the living room at 2am working on coming up with a ‘quiet’ number I think is needed to complete the KEKKER album track list. iPad on, guitar, iRig and headphones…check. It started with a 2 chord stacatto repeating riff that appeared out of nowhere but I thought had merit. I sang various melodies over it until I found the one that suited, then recorded them roughly (so as not to forget them the next day) then went to bed at 5am.

Next night I found the chorus chords and melody, laid down the looping bass part and the ‘Chris Issacs’ call and response lead lines. Over the next couple of days I sketched out a few lyrics and ‘before the parchute opens’ fitted very nicely indeed. It was at this point I settled on the concept (very simple really). Basically it’s my reflection on how ‘successful’ I have been in my life(being 56 some stark realities started pushing themselves forward).

I decided I wanted the track to be really bleak and hypnotic in it’s backbeat (Dougies drums sound like a grandfather clock which suits the songs message completely). It’s also much longer than most songs I write which further adds to the passing of time motif.

Verse 1: The background noise suspends my self belief. Our landscape moves to blurred from sharp relief. My task was having everything in place. Before the parachute opens. I had worked most of my life in pretty safe jobs and reasonably well paid band environments and didn’t give much thought to planning for the future (who does when you’re young).

Verse 2: Young altitude drops through the purest air. A mile a year brings on a quiet despair. How long it takes us all to realise. Before the parachute opens. Being made redundant (for the first time in my life) from an architects practice 5 years ago I scrambled to find some ideas as self employed to earn enough money for bills etc and the worries that this brought had me second guessing my life choices (‘If only I’d done that……etc etc’) and this ‘noise’ in my head would come back a few times a year to shut me down. Then I started playing music again and with the total support of my wonderful wife started enjoying life again as well.

Chorus 1: A hug, resolve, as hopes revolve and flee. A kiss, in turn, I see, I yearn through thee. I won’t ever be a millionaire and sometimes do regret not planning so well for the future (opening the parachute and floating gently into retirement) but you know what? I really wouldn’t change a thing!