Date: August 16, 2007
Location: 13th Note, Glasgow
Interview subjects: Frightened Rabbit
Background info: Frightened Rabbit are a band based in Glasgow, comprising Selkirk-born Scott Hutchison (vocals, guitar), his brother Grant (drums) and Billy Kennedy (guitar). The band brought out Sing The Greys – effectively an album of demos – last year, pressing 1000 copies. This summer they signed to FatCat, who are releasing Be Less Rude as a single next month as a preview to a revamped version of Sing The Greys (out in October). Their first proper album is released in March – read on to find out exclusively what it’s called…
Today we bring you The Pop Cop’s first interview. We bestowed FRIGHTENED RABBIT with this honour (right, guys?) because they symbolise a certain quality that’s common in all of the best Scottish alternative bands. It’s in their drive to push the boundaries of pop music and a willingness to graft in order to make themselves heard. Frightened Rabbit deserve every reward that is coming their way and if The Pop Cop can help them reach out to a few more fans, that’ll give us our own sense of satisfaction.
THE POP COP: What’s the difference between the old Sing The Greys and the new one?
SCOTT: Little bits and pieces have been re-recorded. We’ve re-amped some of the drums in different rooms to get an ambience about it. It’s louder and everything is fuller and bigger.
GRANT: Originally FatCat were just going to release it on a low scale as a taster for the new album. But when we remixed and mastered it, it sounded like a proper album and we felt those songs were too good to just brush under carpet.
THE POP COP: Tell us about the album you’ve just recorded.
SCOTT: It’s called The Midnight Organ Fight. It’s a line in a song. There’s a running theme throughout the album – it’s quite relationshipy. I wanted it to have a sort of lightness, a different interpretation rather than ‘this is all about me’. I don’t think anyone knows the title apart from our label.
It was produced by Peter Katis. He produced the last two National records and the first two Interpol records, so there was a way it was always going to sound given who he is. We went to his house in Connecticut. Peter was always talking about the last National record which took four and a half months. You stay in his house while you’re recording so he had them in his house that whole time. I don’t even know what they would have been doing in that last month! We were there for a month and managed to get something we were pretty chuffed with.
It sounds a little less indie, a lot more polished, which I’m happy with. I always wanted Frightened Rabbit to be a really good pop band as opposed to a scrappy indie band. The record still sounds like it was made by a Scottish band, in the lyrics and the chords we use. Plus it’s still pretty miserable to the core!
THE POP COP: Which track on Midnight Organ Fighting most stands out for you?
SCOTT: There’s a song about throwing yourself off the Forth Road Bridge. I’ve thought about it before. I’m not bullshitting. When I’m miserable, I’m genuinely miserable. I don’t think you can write without having a real intensity. This album is a lot more intense than the first one. There’s a lot more blunt imagery. It almost spells out what’s happened.
Socially, I’m maladjusted in a lot of ways and I don’t really talk about things. In terms of my personal life I don’t always express myself properly and this is a way of doing that. Most of the lyrics are pretty direct. It’s not metaphorical, not at all.
However, I always feel that no matter how morose the subject matter there’s always a way that we as a group find of putting a positive slant on it, whether it be a depressing lyric put to a really pleasant melody or just a positive spin in the end. I hope people don’t feel depressed when they listen to our music.
THE POP COP: How did you come to sign for FatCat?
SCOTT: We had a bad experience with a label last year, a major label. They pulled out the day before we were due to sign. They wasted six months of our time. It was bad. When we were dealing with them we were always speaking to someone three steps down from where the decisions were being made.
FatCat were so loyal and were always there. I have the number of the FatCat boss on my mobile. I can call him any time and I know if he’s says yes or no, it’s yes or no. He makes the decisions.
THE POP COP: How do you fund the rock star lifestyle?
SCOTT: It’s hard. At the moment none of us have jobs. We all need jobs but we don’t have the time to be working. We did more than five festivals this summer, which is weekends. You can’t have a part-time job and say you can’t work weekends.
GRANT: But the stuff we do is pretty good fun so I’m not complaining. We’re lucky to be able play music to people who enjoy it. That’s kind of the point.
THE POP COP: Where does the band’s name come from?
SCOTT: Our mother. Like I said, I’m socially retarded. When I was younger, if you put me in a social situation I would just retreat into a corner and become scared – ‘frightened rabbit’.
THE POP COP: Would you consider adding more members to the band?
SCOTT: Definitely. The new record is not the sound of a three-piece. It’s complex. In some songs there’s hardly any guitar and there are a lot more keyboard elements. I don’t know how we could recreate it with just the three of us, we just wouldn’t do it justice. The next record’s going to require someone else.
However, we’re a bit anal and controlling about the band. It has to be understood that no one else is going to get involved in the songwriting. We all have different roles within the band. The key to this person is that they’ll have to take the parts that they play and just be happy with that.
THE POP COP: How would you describe the energy of your live shows?
GRANT: People who have seen us several times say it’s almost like the first time we’ve played together, or the first time they’ve seen us. A lot of bands don’t understand it’s their job to makes things exciting. Some people miss that point.
Frightened Rabbit – Heads Roll Off
September 1, Connect Music Festival, Inverary
September 4, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
September 6, Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
September 15, The Admiral, Glasgow
September 21, Oran Mor, Glasgow
September 25, Underground, Dundee