Tag Archives: Scott Hutchison

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Five Questions with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison

May 26th, 2017

For more than a decade, Frightened RabbitScott Hutchison (vocals and guitar), brother Grant Hutchison (drums), Billy Kennedy (guitar and bass), Andy Monaghan (guitar and keys) and Simon Liddell (guitar)—have been making global noise on the strength of soaring, melancholic arena rock with resonant lyrics that stay with you. Since then, the Scottish rockers (above, doing “I Wish That I Was Sober” live for KTBG FM) have become as equally well known for their fiery live performances as for their recorded output. The band’s fifth LP, Painting of a Panic Attack (stream it below), which came out last spring, was produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. “Though Hutchison’s talent for crafting beautifully dark stories hasn’t changed much, Frightened Rabbit’s sound most definitely has, thanks in part to Dessner behind the mixing desk,” said the Line of Best Fit. “The usual aching melancholy that has the capability to flip to captivating exuberance at a moment’s notice is ever present but Dessner’s experience with the National gives a whole new, often gloomy, depth to their sound.” Frightened Rabbit play Brooklyn Steel next Tuesday. And ahead of the band’s North American tour, The House List contacted the frontman to answer Five Questions.

Painting of a Panic Attack features electronics more than your other albums. Was that a conscious choice ahead of time or is that just the way things went as you wrote? I think we all wanted to move in that direction a little more with this album, but it wasn’t forced. Through necessity, I was figuring out how to use music software for the first time and exploring the raft of sounds held in Logic. Andy has always been interested in electronic music, so for him it was a natural place to go.

So many Frightened Rabbit songs are anthemic, somehow sounding like upbeat tales even when they’re about downer topics—not many bands could get crowds to lustily belt out lyrics about loneliness or “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm.” Is that something you set out to do? I’ve always been looking for that contrast within the songs. From very early on I knew I wanted the melodic qualities of the music to act like an open door, warm and welcoming, sometimes anthemic. Then once you’re in the room, you hear all these dark lines and it might be a little jarring, but we’ve already shut the door behind you. Ha!

What’s your process for recording new material? Is everything written and fleshed out in advance of going into the studio? Or do you just have sketches and ideas of songs ready to go? We’re usually relatively well prepared but recently we’ve enjoyed developing songs from rough sketches in the studio. Being overprepared or too certain of the songs can result in losing those little moments of studio magic. That’s our excuse for not knowing what the fuck we’re doing.

Once a track is recorded and released, does it stay like that in perpetuity, or do songs grow as you play them live? They always grow, they absolutely should. Often it’s just through boredom within the band, but sometimes the audience drives it forward. I never thought “The Loneliness and the Scream” would be a set-closer, but that had nothing to do with us. It was the crowds latching on to a melody and sticking with it. That was a surprise.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much? Absolutely. It’s a big danger and I’ve caught myself repeating themes again and again. However, I do think it’s important to develop your own world within the songs, and repeated lyrical themes are a big part of that. And the thing is: I am still a bit of a drunken failure. I’m not making it up. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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Frightened Rabbit Put on a Barn Burner at Terminal 5

May 6th, 2016

Frightened Rabbit – Terminal 5 – May 5, 2016

Frightened Rabbit - Terminal 5 - May 5, 2016
From the Department of Nobody Feels Sorry for You: I limped into Terminal 5 last night to see Frightened Rabbit banged up from a solid week of having too much fun and not enough sleep, unsure of how long I’d last. But then a funny thing happened on my way to find a place to lean. Watching the band take the stage in almost total darkness and open with a one-two punch of “Get Out,” off the just-released Painting of a Panic Attack, and “Holy,” from 2013’s Pedestrian Verse, I began to perk up thanks to their uplifting songs about downer topics. Five albums in, and Frightened Rabbit—Scott Hutchison (vocals and guitar) and brother Grant Hutchison (drums and vocals), plus Billy Kennedy (bass, guitar and keys), Andy Monaghan (guitar and keys) and Simon Liddell (guitar and keys)—now have a considerable catalog of passionately rambunctious anthems of heartache and pain, fighting and fucking, and, of course, getting fucked up. But it’s too many songs to play in one night.

“I don’t have whatever drugs Bruce Springsteen has. I can do a 90-minute show, maybe an hour-forty-five. I only have regular-person drugs,” said the affable frontman before the band launched into The Midnight Organ Fight’s “The Modern Leper.” It was the first time—but not the last—the packed crowd would enthusiastically sing along. And so, regardless of my disposition upon arrival, it was impossible to not get swept up in the building wave of emotion. Resistance was futile. I quickly surrendered, and then my lingering fog began to do the same. By the sixth song, “Living in Colour,” off The Winter of Mixed Drinks, shafts of blues and reds, and, later on, strobe lights, cracked through the darkness—my own and the venue’s—more clearly revealing a giant version of the new album’s cover as the stage backdrop. Throughout the performance, Scott Hutchison’s endearing chattiness, rolling Scottish brogue and easygoing comfort lent the show an intimacy despite the size of the room.

Although Frightened Rabbit didn’t play anything from their debut full-length, Sing the Greys, the set was an even mix of their other four albums. The newer stuff relies more on electronics than their previous material. So some songs featured three synths, like “Lump Street”—which proved to be one of the more jammed-out songs of the night—while others were driven by three guitars. And at the heart of the matter, that’s really what makes Frightened Rabbit go: the guitar. It’s soaring, melancholic arena rock with literary lyrics that stay with you. Not many bands could have nearly 3,000 people singing, “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm.” But there we were as the five-piece closed out the set with The Midnight Organ Fight’s “Keep Yourself Warm.” They quickly returned for a three-song encore: Scott doing a solo acoustic “Die Like a Rich Boy”—the line “Want to die like a rich boy/ Even if we’re as poor as we are now” eliciting hardy applause—and then full-band takes on “The Woodpile,” perhaps their most well-known tune, and “The Loneliness and the Scream,” the audience so lustily clapping, stomping and singing along, it felt more like an amped-up crowd at a rowdy soccer match. And so it was only fitting that live music, which had kept me out too late too many nights in a row, would rescue me in the end. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Sing Along with Frightened Rabbit Tomorrow Night at Terminal 5

May 4th, 2016

It began as a solo project that soon enough blossomed into a family affair before becoming a full-fledged band. Scott Hutchison (vocals and guitar) launched Frightened Rabbit—his mom’s nickname for him thanks to his childhood shyness—as a stage name for his one-man shows in Southeastern Scotland more than a decade ago. The solo act became a duo when Scott’s brother, Grant Hutchison (drums and vocals), joined in 2004, and then Billy Kennedy (bass and guitar), came on two years later in time for the band’s promising debut full-length, Sing the Greys (stream it below). AllMusic said, “Sing the Greys isn’t a landmark album by any means, but it’s got all of the ingredients for a follow-up that kicks open the door instead of pushing it just enough to get a good look.” And that’s exactly what happened: With the release of each subsequent album, Frightened Rabbit (above, doing “Break” late in March at Rough Trade NYC for WFUV FM) have revealed more and more about their upbeat music about downer topics, or what Pitchfork dubbed “ramshackle anthems of heartbreak and hangovers.”

The A.V. Club called their acclaimed 2008 breakup album, The Midnight Organ Fight (stream it below), “the emotional apex of the Scottish band’s dark, terrific second album, which circles the drain of failed relationships and bad sex—and somehow finds sparks of hope in mountains of crushing hopelessness.” AllMusic, again, weighed in on 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks (stream it below), “With each release, Frightened Rabbit’s music grows by leaps and bounds…. On The Winter of Mixed Drinks, they focus and polish Organ Fight’s epics—and add a healthy dose of optimism.” The rave reviews continued with 2013’s Pedestrian Verse (stream it below). “The result is a collection of stirring, instant anthems to get fists pumping in the air and swaying crowds singing along,” according to the Guardian. “Frontman Scott Hutchison—a tempest of a man whose voice may well have been crafted by yelling from the tops of mountains—has a gripping, literary style of lyric writing, and you can lose yourself in his dark, yet uplifting tales.”

The Glasgow-based band—now rounded out by Andy Monaghan (guitar and keys) and Simon Liddell (guitar)—released their fifth studio LP, the electronics-enhanced Painting of a Panic Attack (stream it below), produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, just last month. “‘Evolution’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the music industry; bands are expected to grow with each release as stagnancy is frowned upon,” wrote Paste magazine. “Frightened Rabbit evolve the right way with this release, changing their sound, but not so much that they lose their trademark sound. This is still the Frightened Rabbit we all know and love, as gloomy as we last heard from them.” Plus, they’re still just as rowdy and rambunctious as ever when performing live, and they headline Terminal 5 tomorrow night. Local four-piece Caveman open the show.

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Frightened Rabbit Leave ’Em Wanting More

April 5th, 2013

Frightened Rabbit – Terminal 5 – April 4, 2013


In the span of just three years, Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit have gone from performing in basement-sized venues to commanding audiences of thousands each time they play in New York City, and after last night’s sold-out show at Terminal 5, it isn’t hard to understand why. In front of what singer Scott Hutchison said was the biggest crowd they had played to in America, the sweet-sounding rock band from Glasgow showed that it wasn’t just the venues that have grown in that time. The band jumped right into showing off their more refined and expansive sound, which is featured on their newest album, Pedestrian Verse (the artwork of which inspired the towering backdrops onstage).

Gone in the newer material was the hyperfocus on Scott Hutchison and his more vulnerable style of singing and songwriting, as it was replaced by a shared load in the vocals—the band often sang three- and even four-wide, including the drummer, Hutchison’s brother Grant. This tonal shift in their sound was perfectly echoed when, following a small stretch of songs performed solo, Scott began “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms” as the rest of the band returned to the stage to a howling crowd for a dynamic finish. With all the extra drum hits, vocal swells and Americana tinges, it would be easy to fall into a trap of pegging Frightened Rabbit’s sonic shift as one toward becoming a folk band, but there were multiple moments that proved that theory wrong, like during the distorted-guitar, strobe-light-backed shredder “Acts of Man,” with which they wrapped the first set.

Other songs on Pedestrian Verse deal with acceptance of change, of growing up and of wanting to be someone new with someone else. Fitting, since Hutchison had joked at the start that he wanted those in the crowd to meet their neighbors and that by the end he wanted “marriages and babies” from them. And while there were no impending nuptials, Frightened Rabbit’s NYC audience had finished its massive evolution. After the band encored with “Living in Colour,” the fans stayed put, belting out and repeating the entire line of “whoa-ohs” that were sung during the song. And even though the band didn’t return, surely no one left with any doubt that they’ll be back. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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See Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band (Plus Scott Hutchison) Tomorrow

February 11th, 2011

Growing up in Idaho, Josh Ritter heard the Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash version of “Girl from the North Country” on his parents’ copy of Nashville Skyline and knew he wanted to become a songwriter. Some dreams do come true, because years later, Ritter was named one of the 100 Greatest Living Songwriters by Paste magazine. The folk-leaning singer-songwriter has earned favorable comparisons to Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen (or as Mary-Louise Parker says, he “is usually compared to the legends, the ones you have been listening to since you were 15, the ones you love most”), and he’s put out a considerable amount of material on EPs and full-length albums. The most recent of which, So Runs the World Away, came out last year, and Josh Ritter (above, playing “The Temptation of Adam” at last month’s Sundance Film Festival) has been touring with the Royal City Band ever since. See them with Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison (below, doing “My Backwards Walk”) at Terminal 5 tomorrow night.

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Josh Ritter on 2/12

February 8th, 2011

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Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band—along with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison—are coming to town for a pre-Valentine’s Day show at Terminal 5 on Saturday. And if you’d like to go but don’t have tickets try to Grow a Pair from The House List. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Josh Ritter, 2/12) and a brief message explaining why Valentine’s Day is or isn’t important to you. Eddie Bruiser, not necessarily a believer, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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