Frightened Rabbit Interview + Show Tonight

Published on October 28th, 2010

Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit have been making waves ever since their sophomore album, The Midnight Organ Fight, was released back in 2008 to critical acclaim. The boys have since released The Winter of Mixed Drinks, a grand, anthemic follow-up that does not disappoint. They’ve just embarked on a huge US tour, accompanied by Plants & Animals, which includes a stop tonight (10/28) in Philly at the Starlight Ballroom.

I had the chance to talk to frontman Scott Hutchinson about the inspirations behind the new album, collaborating with Craig Finn, life on the road, and finally being over that breakup we heard so much about on The Midnight Organ Fight. Check out the interview by clicking ‘More’ below, and we’ll see you at the show tonight! Tickets can be found here.

 

Claire: So, how are you today?

Scott: I’m quite well, woke up in New Orleans, so not too bad.

Claire: Oh really?

Scott: Yeah, it’s quite nice and warm.

Claire: Nice, well I just wanted to start off with a few questions about the new album, if that’s ok.

Scott: Yeah.

Claire: The production style on The Winter of Mixed Drinks is kind of different from that of The Midnight Organ Fight, so how were the processes of recording those two albums different?

Scott: Well, the first thing that was different was that we had a lot more time to record and produce The Winter of Mixed Drinks. The Midnight Organ Fight was done on a really short schedule, on the last day we were still trying to add more instruments and even then it wasn’t quite…you know, a lot of things weren’t quite the way I wanted them to be. But we didn’t have the time, because we were still an unknown band when we were recording that. We had the opportunity with The Winter of Mixed Drinks to have more time in the studio and add those layers, the things that we wanted to. I think that in many ways as a result of the past…not necessarily regrets, because the album turned out how it turned out and that’s fine, but things that I wanted to be on there…as a result of that, I thought we went a bit over the top with The Winter of Mixed Drinks, just layer upon layer. In many ways, we needed to do that in order to move forward with the next album, to just get that out of our system. So yeah, the process was that we had strings, people come in and play horns, there’s a lot of different elements on there and many, many layers. It was the only way that it was going to come out for this particular record.

Claire: I noticed that there are some clear oceanic themes on the new album, I was wondering what was behind that.

Scott: Actually, to write the bulk of the album, I was able to go out to a small village in Scotland by the sea, it’s called Crail. A friend of mine had a home there, he was on tour so he didn’t need it, and he was like, just take it for as long as you want basically. And I did. I’d never lived by the sea before and it had a big effect on me. I had my daily routine of going out and taking a walk by the coast, and usually I find my walking tends to generate ideas. Usually I’d come home with an idea in my head and I’d work on that for the rest of the day. But the whole oceanic, nautical thing took me by surprise by seeping into everything I was writing. In many ways, even just aside from the lyrical content, I think that the way the songs move, something’s got that swell thing going on. I only noticed that in hindsight, but yeah it had a huge effect on me.

Claire: That’s really cool. I would think it’d be fair to say that The Midnight Organ Fight was somewhat of a breakup album, would you agree with that?

Scott: Yeah, totally.

Claire: New material like ‘Not Miserable’ seems to indicate that that’s over though, so what direction do you think you’ll be taking your songwriting in next?

Scott: Next, I think I’m going to try and look away from myself. I don’t think I’ve got anything left to say about my own life. I go home and I’m definitely happy and comfortable with my girlfriend in my own home and stuff. I think of course it will all still be based around my own thoughts, but I don’t think there’s any kind of trauma to describe, I’m kind of over that now.

Claire: Well that’s good, I mean that’s definitely a good thing right?

Scott: (laughs) Yeah, no, I’m pleased.

Claire: Well you guys just kicked off a huge tour, so I was wondering what life on the road is like for you.

Scott: Well it differs, depending on where we are. In the US, we’re able to afford a bus, which makes life a lot easier. We can sleep a lot more and feel a bit more rested and relaxed. But then, over in the UK, we’re not able to afford a bus so we’re still in vans and that can be quite exhausting. But yeah, generally we’ve gotten into a mode of living on the road that finally kind of suits us, we try and be reasonably healthy with our eating habits. It’s taken a while, I don’t mean we’ve always been that way, but it gets to a point where you get into a certain size of tour where you really can’t go that length of time…well ok, maybe we drink a bit too much. But everything else, I think you can’t go that length of time without at least looking after yourself a little bit. So, we’re getting used to it.

Claire: Do you have any favorite cities to play in?

Scott: Yeah, I mean there are two different facets to that. There are my favorite cities to play in and there are my favorite cities to visit. I really love playing in Boston, but I don’t really connect with Boston as a city that much. I love going to New York, but sometimes the shows there can be a bit more stale than other places, so it’s different. Everywhere we go you can always find something good.

Claire: Yeah. And how is touring with Plants & Animals this time around?

Scott: It’s great, we’re still just getting to know them. We’ve only been away for two weeks and we’re traveling separately so it’s difficult to get to know each other, but I’m enjoying watching them play. I’m a fan of their music and I think we’re just starting to get to know each other now so it’s fun.

Claire: How did you guys get hooked up touring together?

Scott: You know, I don’t know. I guess at the start of the tour our agent puts together a few bands, options and things, and I was definitely interested in having them along, having seen them before and listened to their music. They were one of the top selects. Sometimes it’s completely random how these things turn out, but I guess we had a say in it. I don’t know how it came to be on the table, but I’m happy it did.

Claire: The video for ‘Loneliness and the Scream’ just came out, and I’ve always just been curious about this, what is your level of involvement in the making of your music videos?

Scott: Some videos we’ve done literally entirely ourselves. And then that one, we got presented some plans, they just describe how the video’s going to be, and we got three or four of those, and that one just really stood out. So as far as involvement goes, we had none. Also, one of my favorite things about that video was that we didn’t have to be in it. I think it turned out really well, the guy seemed to know what he was doing and he had a really strong idea, and I think if someone’s going to come to us with that then I’m happy to let them just go with their own vision because they’ve obviously had it well thought out.

Claire: A while back, I know you guys almost signed to a subsidiary of Universal, I was just wondering what happened there

Scott: What happened there? I don’t know. I think we just weren’t ready, it was a very complex kind of situation where there were almost too many people involved in making it happen. We had a couple of managers who were our friends and that didn’t really work out, and then there was another manager who came on half way through and he maybe fucked things up a little bit. Just by the end of it, it was complicated. I was really upset that it didn’t happen, but looking back I’m so glad it didn’t, it would have been a bad idea.

Claire: Yeah, and how is your relationship with Fat Cat now?

Scott: Oh yeah, they’re great. We’re kind of technically no longer with them, but we didn’t end it on bad terms or anything, I think it’s fine. We’re really grateful for all they’ve done for us over the past few years, so I think we can still sit down and have a pint.

Claire: Well that’s always good.

Scott: (laughs) Yeah.

Claire: So Frightened Rabbit was originally just you, right? And then how did the other current members of the group come into the mix?

Scott: Well that just happened gradually, I started off I suppose it was probably about five years ago now, maybe more. Reallyy, I just kind of found people I wanted to be in the band. I drafted my brother one year, the next year Billy joined, then we were a three piece for maybe a year and a half. Then Andy joined, you know it’s just been a long process. And then finally Gordon joined last year, the last piece of the whole thing, and I think we’re done now at five. But I’d always imagined it being a band rather than just a solo project, it was just kind of a necessity that it was a solo project because no one else was involved, or wanted to be.

Claire: What would you say is the biggest difference is between the American and the Scottish music scenes? I mean, would you say you guys still have a large connection to that scene?

Scott: Yeah, well less so now because we’re on tour so much, I think when we go back my finger’s definitely not on the pulse as far as Glasgow bands go. I don’t know really what’s going on because we’re never there, but I think we still have a connection to it, in that we started out there and we’ll always have that. I don’t know, it’s difficult to say; in Scotland the music community is pretty tight, close-knit. It’s a small place so everyone kind of knows everyone and I think that’s healthy, because it doesn’t just include musicians in Glasgow, it includes artists of any type and there’s a lot of cross-creation going on.

Claire: Well you’ve done a few covers, most recently the one of Elton John with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, does something about covers appeal to you in particular, or has that just kind of happened?

Scott: Well I’ve had that in my head for a while, to have that song done by two guys. Craig Finn was at the top of my list to do that, so when he came back and said yes I was pretty excited. But yeah, I don’t know why I’ve always had this idea, it was just something that if I never did it I was going to regret it, so we just went and did it. It’s a kind of fun song, and hopefully one day we’ll get to play it live with Craig as well on vocals, that’d be good.

Claire: Along those lines, if you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Scott: Probably Jeff Tweedy. I’m a huge fan, and I think he’d probably be a complete bastard to work with, but I’d like to at least try. It’d be one of those dream scenarios for me/

Claire: And just to wrap things up, I was wondering if you could tell me three new albums you’ve been listening to lately.

Scott: There’s a new album by the Scottish band called The Phantom Band who are actually going to be on tour with us as of next week. Their new album The Wants is out and it’s really, really stunning. I also love a band called Meursault, as in the wine region, they’re really good, I’ve been listening to their new album All Creatures Will Make Merry a lot as well. And what else? I generally just get stuff given to me and have a listen, but those two are definitely in pretty heavy rotation.

Claire: Well that’s great. I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.

Scott: Oh it’s fine, thank you.

Claire: And I will see you guys when you stop in Philly on the 28th.

Scott: Alright, that’ll be great.

Claire: Thank you!

Scott: See you, bye.

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