“I posted myself biscuits”: Impact Meets… Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit, a Scottish band which formed in 2003, have recently released their fourth studio album Pedestrian Verse. I sat down with lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchinson for a chat about the Loch Ness monster, biscuits, and of course, whiskey.

How are you feeling today, Scott?

Yeah I’m great. I had a nice wander around Nottingham, went to the contemporary art gallery, and bought myself some coffee. I know how to treat myself.

[loud singing emanates from the corridor]

Frightened Rabbit signed with independent label Hits the Fan Records in 2006 for the release of debut album Sing the Greys. In 2010 you signed to Atlantic. How did you find that transition?

Really easy actually – I was expecting it to be harder.

[singing continues]

Sorry, I’m gunna have to deal with this. [storms out the room]

[returns] He doesn’t even sing! He’s our sound guy, but he’s an attention seeker. Where were we?

I remember when we signed, and some of our fans were a bit like ‘oh well, that’s that then. Frightened Rabbit – used to love them but I don’t think I will anymore’. If people don’t like the new album that’s fine, but it would be wrong to pre-judge what we would come out with just because we’d signed to a major record label.

I had the same fears. We built what we had for 6 years all off our own backs. I didn’t want the label to come in and ruin that, so I was very protective. But actually, they didn’t want to ruin it, they just wanted to make it bigger and for more people to hear it. They didn’t want to change the way we worked and they gave us all the resources we needed. We had more freedom than we ever did. The transition was ridiculous easy.

Frightened Rabbit have recently released a fourth studio album Pedestrian Verse. Did you feel pressure to deliver an album that had moved in a new direction?

No, I didn’t feel much pressure. I just wanted us to make a better record than the one we did last time – I mean, that’s always the goal.

I don’t like it when a band makes a huge contrived step in a new direction, like ‘Oh well done, you’ve bought some synthesisers.’ Are you going to use them all over your whole fucking record? So I think for us, it’s more about a development over a series of albums as opposed to making a brave new step. Things have moved forward, but there’s a lot about it that is familiar to Frightened Rabbit fans. We still have a seam running through our music that has existed on all our albums.

We still have a seam running through our music that has existed on all our albums.

Where did the band name Frightened Rabbit come from?

When I was younger, I was very shy and socially awkward. I was thrown into social situations where I was supposed to make friends, but I wasn’t interested. I would sit in the corner with what my mum and dad called my ‘frightened rabbit’ face. I’m sort of over that now though.

What’s been one of your favourite gigs to date?

I think the Scottish music festival T in the Park, which we played 3 years ago. I was so surprised by how many people turned out, it was like ‘where did you all come from?’ It was a real watershed moment for the band when we discovered that people actually liked us.

The band has done charity work in the form of a collaborative music project with Invisible Children. What made you choose that particular charity?

I liked what they were doing in terms of reaching younger brains via music. Some of it is a little bit too American for me, a little bit saccharine – but I do appreciate what they’re doing. They involve a lot of bands in what they do, and they come out on tour and they speak to people at shows, and I think that’s an effective way of doing things.

Obviously it got a bit weird with Invisible Children fairly recently…but I still think that what they’re doing is essentially good natured.

We got involved with them via Biffy Clyro because they started working with them and then we were introduced to them too.

During your early years as a band you sent out biscuits with your demos. Great strategy – but what type of biscuits were they?

I chose the biscuit based on sturdiness because they were getting put in the post, so I didn’t want them arriving all crumbled. I did a few tests, like posted myself biscuits to myself to see which ones stood up to the challenge. The ones I chose in the end were shortbread; they were flat and round with little raisins in. They don’t crumble, but they do snap.

What is your favourite biscuit?

I don’t think they sell them anymore; they used to be called gypsy creams. I think it must have been a late 90s thing when I was in high school. It was a sandwich biscuit with a cream filling. But the cream filling was so unique. Do you know what; I think there were drugs in it. It was so moreish, I was like, ‘I don’t know what this chocolate flavour is, but I love it.’ They dipped well; they went really great with a cup of coffee. I’ve been on the search for a gypsy cream since 1989.

I think there were drugs in it

What home comforts do you miss on tour?

Whiskey. Actually no, we always have whiskey on the rider so it’s far from missed.

I miss my own bed. I currently sleep in what is essentially a large coffin on a tour bus with a curtain. I can’t even sit up in it. The romantic ideal of what life on tour is like, is just not true. I do miss home.

What does the year ahead have in store for you?

Lots of touring. Lots of rooms such as this.

[glances around the clinically white-washed room with distaste]

Dressing rooms always have the harshest light. It’s supposed to be relaxing, but it’s basically an office without desks.

Maybe you should make some decorations to cheer up your tour bus.

Yeah, that’s what we should do. I did used to buy a couple of lamps at the start of every tour. Inevitably we’d get drunk though and then forget them. I’m not going to spend £100 on lamps every tour just so I can feel relaxed. So I tend to close my eyes…or go to a bar. It’s also a great study technique I find.

Not really.

Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?

Scotland can’t have a monopoly on monsters

Yeah, why not? He might as well. I would have thought that there would be more monsters around the world, because it can’t just be that one Loch. Monsters came out of everywhere. Scotland can’t have a monopoly on monsters. The only thing that’s stopping me from thinking it’s real is that there aren’t any other monsters out in Russia or Sweden. Not that I know of anyway. There’s like a Loch Ness monster and a Yeti, somewhere out in the arctic or wherever he is…

Helena Murphy

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