Interview: Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison
Frightened Rabbit play the Music Hall of Williamsburg this Saturday with the Spinto Band. Tickets are $15 and still on sale here.
"I tend to judge papers by how many shits it takes you to read through them. I think NME, for what it's worth, is a one-shit paper. After one shit, you're like, 'Alright, I've seen enough of this.'"
Scottish mistletoe for Scott Hutchinson?
It's certainly a familiar formula: jangly guitars, galloping percussion, juicy pop melodies, romantic neuroses. But Glasgow's Frightened Rabbit do it better then anyone else. If the quartet's sophomore record, this year's The Midnight Organ Fight, is indie rock comfort food, then lead-singer Scott Hutchison is the star chef--the bearded bard whose tough break-up (aren't they all) inspired a near-flawless 14-track suite.
Next Tuesday, October 21, Frightened Rabbit will release Liver! Lung! FR!, a live version of The Midnight Organ Fight recorded in Glasgow. But before the band's performance at Southpaw last summer--the final night of a month-long US tour with Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse--Hutchison joined us in a (relatively) quiet back-stage corner to discuss Adam Duritz, Scottish tourism, and the evils of the British music press. -- John S.W. MacDonald
When Frightened Rabbit's first album came out [2007's Sing the Greys], you guys didn't give out your last names, and in a lot of your press photos you and drummer Grant Hutchison are wearing masks. But now, I take a look on your MySpace page and you have your full names listed--first, middle, and last. Why so shy? And why the personality change now?
Well, it was never really a purposeful thing. We just thought first names are all anyone needs really, right? People started to comment on the fact that we were being regular bastards... But you know, I just don't have that catchy a second name.
Given that the first record was re-released in November of last year, and your latest album [The Midnight Organ Fight] came out in April--a span of only a few months--how long was the gestation period for these new songs?
Yeah, there are three songs from [the new] record that are much older--like made at the same time as the first record. They just happen to fit in with the ones that were written and demoed over a block of I'd say three weeks. They were arranged in a short space of time, all with the same sort of feeling about them. The difference was vast because the first record was written while music was still a hobby. I was still in college and I was like writing one song a month max.
This was while you were at the Glasgow School of Art?
Yeah, I was at art school. I didn't really have time for anything else. I was just kind of messing around with my four-track and writing songs that way. This [album] was a more focused effort. I wanted to write an album, as apposed to a selection of songs.
So the short time-span and the focus on coherence affected the songs themselves? They all felt similar?
There was a moment--not a moment, but a period of time that they refer to.
Honestly, producer Peter Katis [Interpol, The National] is not the guy I would have expected a folk-rock band like yours to record with because he does bigger, sleeker, post-punk bands. So why Peter? Did the songs themselves seem to suggest that kind of producer?
I've always had the ambition towards larger production values. The first record sounded like it did because of the means that we had. We had one week in a fairly D.I.Y. studio in Glasgow to thrash some songs out however we could get them done. It was like that just through process, rather then actually wanting that sound. I want our songs to sound like larger pop productions, and Peter's great at putting muscle behind things and a really nice sheen on stuff. And I think that's an okay thing to do. Actually, my goal's always been to couple a really pleasant musical and melodic background with fucked-up lyrics. So there's filthy, twisted stuff lying on top of this really quite polished bass...[Peter's] also a great friend of our label manager, so we got into the backdoor with that--really, the main thing was that. But again, I wouldn't have worked with him if I didn't think it was gonna work.