Photo Credit: Troy Nelson
Former Swiss Family Orbison founder (with Danny Wilson’s “Kit Clark”) and erstwhile guitarist with The Pearlfishers, Keith Matheson’s new solo album is a cracker, or rather, a KEKKER !
For his new album, Keith teamed up with former Swiss Family bandmates Gregor Philp and Dougie Vipond (both of Deacon Blue), Ged Grimes (ex-Danny Wilson and now Simple Minds) and SAY Awardshortlisted Dundonian Andrew Mitchell, to record his first solo project. Well crafted songs. superb musicianship, which you would expect from Scotland’s finest musos and great production.
Keith is one of those guys you could spend hours chatting to about music, a “muso’s muso” if you will. Sadly I lost out, as this interview was carried out via email. However, that does not detract from the information he kindly shared. His new songs are very personal to him, which in his words “illustrate the power of reflection”. He shares the album’ and songs background with us…
Q: With many years spent Recording/Touring with “Swiss Family Orbison, The Pearlfishers etc what determined the “right time” for you to release your first Solo album and how did it come about – what was it that fueled the songs and “need” to release ?
“I had taken a break from music and went back to Uni to study Interior Design, got my degree and worked for architects for around 8 years. Also my youngest daughter came along, so music had to take a back seat. We (The Swiss Family Orbison) decided to do a short Reunion Tour back in 2016 and that rekindled my love for playing live again. I had been writing a few new songs in between and it was Gregor who really pushed me to think about an album as a project to get back in to music.”
Q: You’ve been in the business for a long time. Was it inevitable for you to release your own work/songs/album ?
“I don’t know if it was inevitable, but I was very happy with the quality of the new songs I was writing and just thought, what’s the use of writing these if nobody is going to hear them.”
Q: Were you in full control of the songs and production, or did the band members add in their own characters and musical nuances during song development/recording stages ?
“Pretty much, although I didn’t dictate exactly what the guys should play. We’ve known each other and played together on and off for the better part of 30 years and given they are all so very talented, I just trusted them to lock on to the vision for the album (which they did).”
Keith produced the album, so retained to some degree, the vision/sound for the album/songs. so we asked him…
Q: How does the overall sound of the new album differ from say others you’ve been involved in with Swiss and The Pearlfishers – Is this album distinctly you (in your ears) ?
“With 60% of The Swiss Family Orbison on it and given I’m a Swiss co-writer, it’s got a fair amount of similarities to both Swiss albums.”
Opening track of the album “DOVEROVERLAND” which Keith describes as “An observation on how, as we get older, you remember past relationships more fondly. I kiss all my friends and that’s a good thing. Love is the way forward.”
Photo Credit: Troy Nelson
KEKKER – TRACK BY TRACK
Doveroverland – This is an observation on how, as we get older, you remember past relationships more fondly. I kiss all my friends and that’s a good thing. Love is the way forward.
My Dog – The loss of my brother brought on a long-standing deep depression. This was written as a cathartic release. It’s also an observation on the ability of the dark to appear and disappear over a long period of time – and how frightening the invisibility of that darkness can be.
Parachute – This examines my regret in not having been more what you could call “successful” in my life. (Still I wouldn’t change a thing.)
Uncommon Angel – Looking back on various encounters, this reflects on the invention by thirtysomethings of the perfect partner.
Mercy – This is simply an apology to my elder daughter.
Real Wood People
It’s important to appreciate good friends and this is a celebration of all the good friends I have found in my life. It’s also a wringing of hands regarding the state of the planet.
Family Bird – A love song for my daughters.
Poor Spy – We spend our whole life looking for ‘the one’. It’s like a covert mission – observing others, dissecting previous ‘ mistakes’ and then, out of nowhere, along she or he comes.
Friendly Friendly – How painful break-ups can, and sometimes do, result in the closest of friendships.
Suppertime – A promise to my wife.
Q: Did you demo the songs first to iron out any issues ?
“Yes I did on my ipad (all parts)”
Q: Do you have a home studio (DAW) to draft out new songs ?
“Just Garageband on the Ipad with an Irig 2 interface. This programme is MADE for guitarists!”
Q: What’s the plan for the album – any Tour planned ? (as we all know trying to get members of a band or musicians in a room at one time is nigh on impossible..)
“Just a couple of acoustic in-stores initially and we’ll see how sales go. All the guys as you can imagine are incredibly busy.”
Q: Where did the band name “KEKKER” come from ?
“It’s my nickname.”
Q: You’re also releasing on Vinyl, is that important to you – What’s the reason to do that ?
“Very, but probably because I grew up in the 70’s and buying a new album was a very special experience, which I hope is coming back.”
Q: Do you miss Touring/Gigging ?
“Yes I do, not the sleeping in a transit van bit, but all the rest.”
Q: What was the biggest challenge in relation to the album and how long did it take to record ?
“Getting the guys together, finishing writing songs and funding it! We recorded all the guys parts live in 2 days (because they’re amazing) and I went back a couple of times to overdub my guitars and vocals.”
Q: What’s next for 2020 ?
“The next album is written but let’s see how this one does.”
Q: And finally, what advice would you give to up and coming bands/songwriters in Scotland ?
“Just keep the faith, keep writing and playing and your songs will just get better and better. I’m not going to lie it’s very hard to get noticed but for this generation social media seems to be everything and the younger guys will be all over that! (Steep learning curve for me)”
Wishing Keith and all the guys in KEKKER the very best with the new album and continued success in 2020
Photo Credit: Troy Nelson
By Pete Carroll (March 2020)