Interview with Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit
Singer Scott Hutchison started performing many years ago, adopting a stage name that was his mom’s nickname for him – Frightened Rabbit – due to his shyness. Based on his hilarious stage banter that we witnessed at Osheaga, he’s either gotten over it or uses humour to hide it. His solo project turned into a full-on band, sticking with the name Frightened Rabbit. I tried to ditch my mom’s nickname of “shithead” as soon as I could.
The Scottish indie rockers first caught my attention with their 2008 effort, The Midnight Organ Fight. Since then, the band have released a couple more albums, including this year’s Pedestrian Verse, which landed at number 9 in the UK charts. The band are also hitting us (in the best way possible) with a series of EPs, with Late March, Death March getting its North American release on September 10.
Rounded out by brother Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan, and Gordon Skene, the band have nicely transitioned their critical and live successes to the charts, as well as signing with Atlantic Records for their recent album release. We had a chance to interview Scott over email, and chatted about things such as their awesome music videos, the Scottish music scene, Cash Cab, and Wintersleep’s alcoholism.
PeteHatesMusic (PHM): There was a large gap between the album releases for The Winter of Mixed Drinks and Pedestrian Verse. Was this part of the motive for releasing the State Hospital EP?
Scott Hutchison (SH): It was. Also we had spent the best part of two years amassing material, and there were simply too many songs to fit on an album. This EP gave those extra songs a proper place to live, rather than housing them on a b-side or as a bonus track.
PHM: How did it feel writing and contributing as a complete band for the new songs? Did it operate as a democracy or were lots of fist fights and dirty tricks used to solve disputes?
SH: No real fights and no dirty tricks that I was aware of. Every democracy still needs a leader and in some cases that was me, in others it was our producer Leo Abrahams. I occasionally stormed out of the room, but this is always for the best. The collective method of writing is far more rewarding and interesting than solitude.
PHM: Who comes up with the ideas for your music videos? There have been several comical ones of late, including Today’s Cross and The Woodpile.
SH: Two chaps, the brothers Lockey, have done almost all of our video material over the past 4 years. We love their work. Today’s Cross was put together by a group of my pals, who managed to pull it off in around 2 days. Megafeat!
Frightened Rabbit – The Woodpile
PHM: There have always been Scottish bands in music, but do you feel there’s a wave of success emanating from Scotland, with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Twilight Sad, and of course you guys, and more recently CHVRCHES.
SH: I think it’s a fairly constant wave. I think ourselves and The Twilight Sad emerged as a reaction to Franz Ferdinand’s style. Now, there ought to be a slew of bands who fucking hate us and want to do something entirely different. That’s what keeps music exciting in Scotland.
PHM: Is it an accurate statement to say that only in Scotland would someone drunkenly ask someone else to join a band (as you did to Andy), and then have them form an integral part of the band?
SH: Ha. I happened to be drunk that night, but it was an idea I’d had before. And hey, if you want to meet some dumbass drinkers, look no further than our Canadian buds Wintersleep!
(note: check out our interview with Wintersleep to read an awesome tale of drunkenness to prove Scott’s point)
PHM: Not to get too political here, but what are your thoughts on Scottish independence and the upcoming 2014 vote?
SH: Undecided. I’d love to think it could work, but everyone needs to look beyond a simplistic national pride and analyse the facts. Scotland is economically quite strong, and I feel a more localised government would be beneficial. However, there will be teething problems, and no one really knows how seriously those could affect the country.
PHM: When we interviewed your recent tour mates Wintersleep, we asked Loel and Paul how many drinks they consume before going on stage. Loel told an epic story about blacking out on stage during a show. Any stories to top that?
SH: I can’t top those dudes. Ever. They’re machines. All our best drinking tales involve those guys anyway! Next time, ask them about the infamous pickle shots…
(note to self: ask Wintersleep about infamous pickle shots…and a drunken story about Scott)
PHM: On Twitter, a fan said he saw Grant on the reality TV trivia show Cash Cab, to which presumably Grant on the Frightened Rabbit Twitter account tweeted back “I was embarrassingly shite!”
— Frightened Rabbit (@FRabbits) July 13, 2011
PHM: I replied that I was on the Canadian version of Cash Cab, and we passed on the final ‘double or nothing’ question and took the money, to which Grant called me an idiot.
— Frightened Rabbit (@FRabbits) May 23, 2013
PHM: If the guys in Frightened Rabbit could all go in the Cash Cab, who would be the best, and would you use me as “phone a friend” for help?
SH: I thought Grant would be the best, but perhaps I was wrong. I have a bad memory and therefore pretty poor general knowledge, so I’d sit at the back and keep schtum. I think we’d use my Dad for phone a friend.
PHM: Lastly, what band recommendations for you have for our readers? Bonus points if you pick primarily Scottish or Canadian acts.
SH: Holy Esque and Honeyblood are two current Scottish favourites. I’ve also been listening to Bill Ryder-Jones’ album ‘If…’. It’s a score for an imaginary movie of the book of the same name. Really beautiful.
If I’ve learned anything from this interview, it’s that we definitely need a pay-per-view drinking event with Frightened Rabbit and Wintersleep, with me as guest announcer. Beer sponsors – reach out to me. The rest of you, you need to get your hands on The Late March, Death March EP (along with other fine material from Frightened Rabbit).