Bill Cummings 03/08/2008
An unconventional four-piece with a defined personality, Frightened Rabbit Comprises brothers Scott (vocals, guitar) and Grant Hutchison (Drums, vocals), Billy Kennedy (guitar, keys), and latest recruit Andy Monaghan (guitar / keyboard). Lyrically ranging from incisive social commentary, to lucid, humourous explorations of interpersonal relationships, Scott's songs convey candid tales of ordinary folk with a wry, acerbic wit via an eloquent, emotive, modern garage-pop aesthetic. Always a riveting live force the band have recently played dates such as T In The Park, The Big Chill, and Summer Sundae, as well as support slots with the likes of Sons & Daughters, Editors, We Are Scientists, and Idlewild. They even played a show in Cardiff for GIITTV zine!
FREE DOWNLOAD- FRIGHTENED RABBIT- THE MODERN LEPER- MP3
Earlier this year they released their second(Fat Cat released) album 'Midnight Organ Fight'. Recorded by Peter Katis (Interpol, Mercury Rev), the album has gained considerable acclaim, with a number of sources citing it already as one of the year's best. It see's the band step up to embrace a more lushious sound showcasing their unique ability(unlike many bands) to make personal experience connect on an almost anthemic, universal level. They've just released a full UK tour in support of their new single' I Feel Better/The Twist.'
We caught up with main vocalist, guitarist and lyricist Scott Hutchinson for a chat about Frightened Rabbit, the sexual euphemisms running through their album title and some songs, his distrust of the Counting Crows comparisons, his addiction to the TV show Sheer Genius, and what the future holds for the band.
Hi, there how are you?
I am fairly well. Just eaten some nice dinner. Always helps.
What's your name and what do you do?
My name is Scott, and I mostly play guitar and sing in Frightened Rabbit.
Can you tell me a little bit about the genesis and evolution of Frightened Rabbit and how you arrived at the current line up?
The initial line-up in Frightened Rabbit was just myself. I had really only been messing with my 4 track for about 6 months before I started playing some shows on my own. Some of the songs still didn't have words and I was mostly just mumbling nonsense half the time. Grant joined a year later, making the outfit much noisier. Billy came along about 6 months after this and actually made it a bit less noisy. He's very calming like that is Billy. Andy has been in the band since January, and adds all the extra details we were missing before. Still not sure if we're finished gathering members...
Who would you pinpoint as your main musical influences? Some people compare you to American acts, some have mentioned fellow Scots The Twilight Sad, and Idlewild, do you try and ignore comparisons?
I usually agree with them, aside from the Counting Crows comments... hmmmm. It's hard to pinpoint one influence, as even single songs tend to come out as a mash of my favourite things from other artists. I'd say Elbow have been one of the most consistently excellent bands in the world and if i had to choose an act i admired and wished we could be like, it would be them. I don't think we'll ever be as graceful as they are, but we do try.
Would it be fair to say that the emotional lyrics come out of personal experience?
Absolutely. I can't really write about anything else, and i can still visualise the events in each song, which perhaps makes the delivery more genuine.
Songwriting wise how does it work in the band what comes first, music or lyrics? Or is it a mixture of the two? Your sound is very heartfelt, and driving, is this intentional or just how they emerge? Are you trying consciously trying to move the listener?
It's usually the music first, and I hum and sing syllables to feel out the rhythm and melody, then I finally write the words. Most songs just arrive the way they do by accident, and its certainly not particularly contrived. It's very important to move the listener and I feel that is music's main goal: to make another human feel something.
Do you think that's what makes you stand out a bit in the current identikit indie climate?
Perhaps. I feel like so many bands have such throwaway lyrics. I'm aware that our records could hopefully last far beyond my own lifetime, so I try to scrutinise every line. Its a real privilege to be able to release songs, and one that shouldn't be taken lightly I feel.
How was it working with Peter Katis(Interpol, Mercury Rev producer)? What do you think he brought to the sessions?
He's able to bring a sonic muscle to the songs, and a trademark atmosphere that is entirely his own. He kind of pulled us out of the indie rock basement into a more luscious soundscape. He has a great pop sensibility and a very different approach to mixing music than I do, being more sparing and structured with instrumentation than myself so it was a learning experience as much as anything.
Did you feel like you were stepping up a level as a band recording 'The Midnight Organ Fight'? Its certainly aroused a lot of attention, I heard one of your songs on Hollyoaks the other day!
Yes, like I said, I think we're out of the basement now, I think we actually stepped up quite a few levels, but we always want to be better.
How ambitious are you as a band? Are you more concerned with self expression or success or do you want both at once!?
We've always said that as long as we are moving forward, then we will feel we are succeeding. That could mean more people listening to our music, or being better as a band, but as long as we are not static or making backwards steps, we are happy and content.
Where does the title come from? The body theme runs through your artwork and songs?
The title has a couple of possible meanings, but the main one is a euphemism for sex, as it's in the song Fast Blood, which is essentially about fucking... I didn't realise i was so drawn to physical and biological imagery until I put the whole record together. I feel like heartache is very physically painful, in lots of ways, so it seems natural to gravitate that way.
What can you tell me about your label? How did you end up working with Fat Cat? Are you fans of other Fat Cat bands?
FatCat is a fabulous label. They have been in touch with the band for about 3 years now. We went through a bit of a rankle with a major label, which ended with us being bitterly disappointed and angry at being royally fucked over. We went back to Fatcat to see if they'd still have us! Thankfully they did and we've been really happy since. I admire the eclectic nature of the label, and they truly do only sign acts they love, not bands they feel they can make a quick buck from. I like most of the stuff on the label, but our favourites are The Twilight Sad, Gregory and the Hawk, Tom Brosseau and Silje Nes.
How was it playing SXSW Festival? Did you manage to catch any other bands?
I only saw The Raveonettes, Anathalo and a bit of the Lemonheads. We were so busy I didn't really have time to go to anything else. After a full day playing music, I just wanted to get drunk and avoid the shows.
What can fans expect from your next batch of live shows? Who is supporting you?
In the UK, we'll be playing with new FatCat signing We Were Promised Jetpacks, also from Glasgow. They are incredible. We'll be playing all the stuff from the last record, and a random assortment of older tunes, for those who have been with us from the start.
In the US we'll be opening for the Spinto Band, so expect a half hour of energy for those one.
Can you tell us about your new single 'I Feel Better'?
That song is kind of a sequel to 'Snake' from the first record. The melody in the chorus is the same too, and after 'Snake' documents me traveling to New York to see my girlfriend, 'I Feel Better' deals with returning home without her, single and a bit confused. In spite of this, I think it's a feel good number!
What do you think about the new music download revolution? How is it changing the business?
I think its a great tool for getting your music into homes and headphones that may once have been out of reach, especially to smaller labels like FatCat. I am not at all opposed to free downloading, and I think it's a great place for new bands to be heard. There's so much out there now, and you can have it!
Since my site is called God Is In The TV what's your favourite TV show?
I've been enjoying Shear Genius at the moment. It's about hairdressing. Shit and addictive.
What are your Future plans?
I guess we'll be recording a new album next year, after finishing off 2008's tour schedule. I'm excited at the prospect of being in the studio again.
Thanks for your time, good luck with the new shows. Thanks for playing for us in Cardiff a while back.
New 'I Feel Better/The Twist' 7” / DL released SEPT 22 through FatCat.
Full UK Tour Listed:
Fri 5 Sep MANCHESTER NIGHT & DAY CAFE
Sat 6 Sep LONDON 229 (supporting Camera Obscura)
Sun 7 Sep BRIGHTON FREE BUTT
Mon 8 Sep SOUTHAMPTON ORANGE ROOMS
Tue 9 Sep READING SOUTH STREET
Wed 10 Sep LEICESTER FIREBUG
Thu 11 Sep NEWCASTLE THE END BAR
Fri 12 Sep SCOTLAND RAPAL (Radio Show)
Sat 13 Sep NOTTINGHAM TBC
Sun 14 Sep DUBLIN HWCH FESTIVAL
Tue 16 Sep DUNDEE UNI STUDENTS UNION
Thu 18 Sep ABERDEEN BARFLY
Fri 19 Sep ULLAPOOL LOOPALLU FESTIVAL
Thu 25 Sep EDINBURGH THE CAVE
Tue 30 Sep GLASGOW THE ARCHES
Thr 2 Oct LONDON HOXTON BAR AND GRILL (Headlining Show - Concrete and Glass Festival)