Interview: Frightened Rabbit

Posted on September 5, 2012

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It’s been a long two and a half years for fans of Frightened Rabbit. The Scottish indie band who captured many a student and hopeless romantic’s heart with raw, bruising tales of lost love and lost eras with 2008’s Midnight Organ Fight have been conspicuous by their absence since the release of their grandiose third album, The Winter Of Mixed Drinks in 2010. Good news is finally here though, as the band who wear their hearts and most of their drinks on their sleeves are getting ready to unleash album number four early next year and this month they’ve got a second EP to whet your appetite. Nice eh?

State Hospital is the second EP from Scott Hutchison’s band since TWOMD’s release, following last year’s A Frightened Rabbit EP. Both have featured songs that could be considered stylistic departures for the band as well as handful of notable duets; Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat lends his drawl to Wedding Gloves this time round whilst A Frightened Rabbit EP featured Camera Obscura singer Tracyanne Campbell and folk legend Archie Fisher.

“For us, EPs are a platform for songs that don’t don’t quite have a place on the album.” Explains FR’s long-time chief singer songwriter Scott Hutchison, “We had shit-loads of songs so we thought that, just so people know we’re not sitting on our arses all the time, we’ll release a couple of bits of pieces. We were starting to get a bit of an itch to release and tour after, what, a year and a half? And we just wanted something out there to give me people a reasonably generous amount of work, a few different songs, and to say ‘we’re still here and there’s a record on the way’”

Anybody looking to gauge the tone of the band’s as-yet untitled new album would be best served listening to State Hospital’s title track. Hutchison describes the EP acting as a thematic stop gap between what’s gone before and what is yet to come and State Hospital, with its lyrical intensity and ambitious musical scope, a dark, slow building nervous energy, seems to bear that out. After the shift in sound from the jittery guitars of Midnight Organ Fight to Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ rolling ocean of soundscapes however, fans can be forgiven for not quite knowing quite what direction to expect

“The next album is always informed by the one you’ve done before, simply because when you go and tour songs you start to understand really what they’re about. Once you get a a look from a far at it you get to see it’s faults and things you don’t like about it and with Organ Fight I started to feel that, totally by mistake, I’d revealed a bit too much of myself and then when it came to writing Winter of Mixed Drinks I think I just reigned it in quite a lot.

“What happened afterwards was I got a bit sick of that so what we have now is a much darker, lyrically even more intense and personal album even than Organ Fight. Everything is informed by what’s gone before and I think that Winter of Mixed Drinks has informed this to become something really, properly intense.”

What we do know for sure however, is that the album has been recorded in Wales and tweaked in Bath, with Leo Abrahams not only taking over producing duties from The National collaborator Peter Katis but also marking the first time the band have worked with a producer throughout the recording process. Indeed so strong was Hutchison’s belief in the producer that recording of the album was delayed to accommodate his schedule.

That’s not the only major change however, as this also marks the first time that writing duties have been entrusted to band members outside of Hutchison, something that he above all felt they needed to move forward. “When I was writing the last album I think I reached a saturation point, maybe hit a bit of a wall and started repeating myself. By the time it came to start writing this record everyone in the band felt like they had they had their place and I think we were all filling a different role so when it came to start writing this it seemed natural to open it up more and I think the results kind of speak for themselves.

“I’m still writing all the lyrics but musically we get everyone else in and as a result its much more diverse and interesting simply because more heads involved. It’s been an amazing experience and as a result everyone in the band just feels more invested in the album. I’ll never go back to the way I used to write.

The third and final big change between this long awaited new album and what’s gone before it is that this will mark the first full length release by FR on a major label, Atlantic Records to be precise. Historically the move to a major label, the motives behind it and the can be something a an elephant in the room, but Hutchison is understandably defensive of the move “I’m not an idiot, when you sign to a major label you do it for a reason, you want to further your career and we’re not going to deny that.”

It would seem that the band’s feeling was that they had simply reached the end of the road with indie label Fat Cat and what they could do for furthering their prospects and reach, but anybody worrying about possible but the the idea of any label intervention, or a change in writing style, should have no worries as Scott insists they have as much creative freedom as ever: “People say ‘are you going to start writing pop songs’ and I’m like, ‘Fuck off! In my head I’ve been writing pop songs since I started!’”

Frightened Rabbit release State Hospital on Sept 21st. Their fourth album is slated for release in early 2013.

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