By Jennifer Lynn
2013 is looking set to be quite the year for Glasgow’s indie boys, Frightened Rabbit. Now signed to Atlantic Records, the foursome were holed up writing their fourth album for much of last year, and are finally ready to share the fruits of their labour with the world. We caught up with frontman Scott Hutchison to talk music, money and making it in America…
Your new album Pedestrian Verse is out on February 4th. How does it compare to your previous three records?
I mean you should probably always say this about your newest record, but I think it’s better than them. It’s sort of a process of refinement, realising what kind of band we are, and starting to become more comfortable and confident in our own music. It’s definitely the most detailed, subtle, refined record we’ve ever done, so I’m more excited about it than I have been about the others.
What’s the story behind the album title?
The first song I wrote for this album was State Hospital, and the words “pedestrian verse” are from a line in that the song, so I focused on it. I wrote the words on the front of my notebook as a working title, but can you imagine if the record had come out, called Pedestrian Verse, and it had really shit lyrics? I mean, some people might still think it’s shit, but I tried to challenge myself to make the lyrics live up to the title. I think it made them denser and more interesting, so it was almost like a gauntlet that I threw down at the very beginning, and a few songs on the album are also about looking in on other people’s lives – pedestrians, I guess. I’d only ever really written about myself in the past, and I think that on this album I wanted to look into someone else’s window, but not in a pervy, horrible way!
How different was the process of writing the album now that you’re with a major label?
A lot of things changed. The great thing about being with Atlantic is that we had more resources, more time and, if I’m being brutally honest, we had more money to take the process where we wanted. We were able to do things like go to big houses for writing sessions and actually live together while we were doing it, writing every day, which is something that hadn’t been available to us in the past. It is extremely nice to go through the creative process without that money counter clocking up and thinking, “Shit, we’re going to run out”. Maybe it’s a bit crass to talk about money, but it’s a massive factor of putting out a record, and it changes a lot.
Do you think that made you more able to relax and enjoy the process?
Totally. I mean nobody had to have another job while we were doing it, we were able to focus entirely on music and there was nothing else for us to do but put these songs together. The whole thing just got a lot more intense. It allowed us to relax into our own way of working, and we were so far removed from the label, up north in the Borders. They just kind of left us to our own devices, so we were, in a very serious way of course, able to muck about!
You recently admitted that the first record you bought was by Vanilla Ice, but whose music are you listening to now?
I’m really into this singer from the US called Angel Olsen; she has a lovely yet borderline creepy voice, and she writes really beautiful songs. I’ve also been getting into New Order, which seems absolutely ridiculous to say because they’ve been around for ages, but I think I just ignored them before! And I got the new Villagers album, which is really, really good. Oh, and the new one by Winter Sleep, who we’re going on tour with. There’s a few!
As you’ve said you’re heading out on a UK tour in February. What are you most looking forward to about going on the road?
Not just because it’s you, but we are really looking forward to coming back to Scotland. I think those three shows [Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow on February 26th, 27th and 28th respectively] are going to be really special for us, just to get that whole homecoming vibe after going round the UK.
Was it intentional to have the Scottish dates as your grand finale?
Hopefully they planned the Barrowlands one so that we can all actually go out and get drunk afterwards! We have to be kind of sensible on tour these days, which sounds very boring, but my voice goes if I have a bit of a heavy night.
After a quick break you’re then off to the US. Which venues are you most looking forward to hitting?
I always love going to New York. It’s so cliché, everyone says it’s amazing, but having been there a few times now it doesn’t lose its charm. There’s a few places in the middle of America where we’ve never been, and that’s always really exciting. Some places in Kentucky where we’ve never been and there are new fans to play too, and we’re going to SXSW too, which will be awesome.
Is cracking the American market as much of a big deal for British bands now as it used to be?
It’s very important to us, and the most common way that bands used to approach the situation was to break Britain first, then go over to America. We’ve kind of just been chipping away at both at the same time. If you can build a fan base there, it’s a very loyal one; we’ve had one for a good wee while now. When you start a band when you’re younger you totally dream of touring America, and sometimes now I have to remind myself when I’m moaning about how long the drive is, that, “Man you’re in America and you’re touring, so shut the fuck up!” It’s an amazing feeling, so long may it continue.