Frightened Rabbit front man Scott Hutchinson chats to Impact about music, the upcoming album and tour, and whether the Scots are more poetic than the English.
For those who don’t know Frightened Rabbit, who are your major influences?
Errrmmm, there’s a lot of them. The Band are one of my biggest influences, Wilco – a great American band, er, I love Ryan Adams, he’s one of my favourite songwriters. And yeah a lot of Scottish music like The Delgados, Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian have been big influences on me as well.
You mentioned Wilco; what aspects of them have you drawn on? Country?
I really like the weird Wilco. I was into them before ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’, but that was the one that completely changed… I mean… I know it completely changed my opinion of what an album could be.
There’s currently a folk music boom going on; how much do you associate Frightened Rabbit with folk?
Yeah, well I think at what the core of what we do is folk music, but I don’t think- if you’re talking about the upsurgence of people like Ben Howard and Mumford & Sons and stuff like that- I don’t really see that we have that much in common with that, erm… in the end, when we get our music out live, we’re much more of a rock band I think. But at the core of what we do is folk music, and I don’t mind being associated with that as such- I just think it can almost be a bit of a lazy comparison. I don’t mind, but I think we’re a lot more than that.
Something like The Byrds with 1960’s folk?
[Laughs] Yeah, maybe that. Something like… Nirvana compared to Bon Jovi.
(Previous album) ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ had a new heavily layered and powerful sound, did its different sound change the atmosphere at live shows?
Yeah, I mean I think we still retained a lot of the raw energy. We didn’t want to just recreate the album piece by piece live; that would have been boring and, like you say, we created a hugely layered sound so that would have been difficult to do. So, I think we took the composite parts that were important and exaggerated them and made the whole thing a bit more raw. So, we always like to do things differently live. It’s important to not just play the album, it seems like you could just put a CD on instead or something and I never really see the point in that.
Some said ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ lost your iconic lyrical intimacy. ‘State Hospital EP’ sounds like a mixture of intimate lyrics and powerful sound, can we expect a balance of the two on Pedestrian Verse?
Yeah, yeah man I think so. Basically, with ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ there was a lot of piercing personal exploration and input which was pretty hard. I purposefully made ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ a bit more vague but I think I lost something in doing so. But you’re absolutely right; there is that balance now between the larger sound of ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ and the lyrical intensity of what’s come before that. Hopefully it is a balance, yeah.
Do you think you got scared about how deep you were going in earlier albums?
Basically, yeah, that’s what happened. But I’ve kind of stopped being scared now; I’ve realised that that’s probably the most effective way that I can write and it’s my way of writing. You know, on ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ I was almost trying to be something else, something I wasn’t. I think I’ve realised now the way I write and the reasons that I write are very personal, that’s just undeniable… so there’s a lot of that on the new record.
On the current U.K. music scene, taking into account the likes of other bands like Belle and Sebastian, are the Scottish better lyricists than the English?
Are they better? [Laughs] Well, I suppose I am biased. I do think there’s lots of fantastic English lyricists; you know people like Frank Turner- I think he’s a great lyricist. But we really have got some amazing ones in Scotland, like Aidan Moffat from Arab Strap who we were lucky enough to do a song with this year. A guy called Withered Hand, he’s one of my favourite songwriters in the world- he’s from Edinburgh. So yeah I think we do punch above our weight as a country with song-writing in terms of size- but I’m not going to do English songwriters a disservice, saying we can write better, because England’s definitely had its fair share of fantastic writers.
What can Nottingham expect in February?
Well, we’re going to play a lot of the new songs. We’re really excited about the new record and we want to air a lot of the new material. We’re going to play some, you know, old favourites as well. Just the thing is, we never want to let the energy drop as we get older and we do more, it can sort of drop. We want to keep that level high and we’re going to try and play some really long sets. You know… we’ve got a decent back catalogue now and we want to try and give people as much music as we possibly can.