ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DEC. 14, 1984
By Steve Newton
I heard your laughter ringing out between the waves and the sun/A Mayan secret, one thousand voices carved in stone/We of the sun, we have desire to follow a poem for the future, whose name is tomorrow/I saw your shadow, you were standing at the feet of the moon
“At the Feet of the Moon” is the first single from the new Parachute Club album of the same name. An infectious, skillfully crafted tune with airy vocals and a funky groove, it’s a fitting successor to their Juno Award-winning single “Rise Up”.
Drummer Billy Bryans called from Toronto prior to the awards–where the band won Most Promising Act as well–and related how the song was inspired by the historical and cultural mystique of Mexico. It was written by lead vocalist Lorraine Segato, who visited there earlier this year with keyboardist Lauri Conger.
“They both spent time in southeastern Mexico,” says Bryans, “near the Mayan ruins. And I’ve had friends come back very inspired by that sort of an ageless and timeless feel that you get, feeling something from ten centuries ago.”
The subject matter the Parachute Club prefers to deal with isn’t your typical pop pap–Lorraine herself says the song is about “the unexplainable forces that draw us towards knowledge and desire.” Segato, Conger, and Bryans–along with drummer Julie Masi, guitarist Dave Gray, bassist Keir Brownstone, and sax player/percussionist Margo Davidson–make uplifting music that concerns itself with fear and oppression (“Walls and Laws”), peace and understanding (“Equal/Equality”), liberty and justice (“Freedom Song”), and role-playing/stereotypes (“Sexual Intelligence”).
And that’s just on their latest album.
The band’s first LP, released last year, won thousands of fans with the thoughtful singles “Alienation”, “Boy’s Club”, and the title cut “Rise Up”. Cross-country tours with the likes of Culture Club helped push the debut to gold status in Canada (over 50,000 units sold) and the band swept the U-Knows (a “people’s choice” tribute), taking the Best Album, Best Group, Best Female Vocalist, and Best Producer categories.
Daniel Lanois, the producer of Rise Up, was in Ireland working with U2 when the time came for a follow-up Parachute Club LP. Because Lanois was unavailable, the band decided to try American Michael Beinhorn, who was one half of the group Material and who had had a lot of experience with funk music, having produced such artists as Herbie Hancock (Future Shock) and Nona Hendryx.
The group also picked up a new bassist in Saskatchewan native Brownstone, who replaced current Billy Idol bassist Steve Webster. He became a member of the Club last spring.
“He’s got a great sense of reggae and funk styling,” says Bryans, “and that’s important to us. Plus he’s just a pretty open and aware gentleman.”
Brownstone’s performance at the Commodore recently proved that he’s become a helpful addition to the band. His energetic bottom-end put real life into the show, and helped make it at least as exciting as their previous Commodore appearance, on Halloween of last year.
One of the concert’s highlights–along with the better-known tunes like “Rise Up’ and “At the Feet of the Moon”–was “Sexual Intelligence”, which was inspired by the writings of feminist author Andrea Dworkin.
“If one follows feminist writing,” says Billy, “she’s probably one of the most well-known. She has a book out called Right Wing Women, which really examines the phenomena of the women–especially in America–who are very anti-abortion, pro-family, and pro-Reagan.
“And within this analysis is contained the phrase ‘sexual intelligence’, which is really a spark. Lorraine read the book first and said ‘I’d really like to write a song around that.’ Then I read it and said ‘You’re right–that’s an incredible image.’
“So we had some music around, and Loraine stood up one day as we were playing and said, ‘I think that’s “Sexual Intelligence”.’ She took it upon herself to formulate the lyric idea based on our concept of what sexual intelligence was and some of the images that just occurred to us.”
He learned the rules as a normal boy/She learned them too, but they weren’t quite the same/He learned how to fight, he learned how to win/She learned how to smile, and to stand there by him/They called it common sense, they grew up so different/They were the typical children, livin’ in a myth!”
Songs like “Sexual Intelligence”, which tries to define a new, non-exploitative form of sexual expression, are what the Parachute Club are all about. Here’s hoping other popular Canadian bands will follow their example of putting real meaning to their music.