Frightened Rabbit And The Art Of Airing Grievances
  • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2013

  • Posted by: David Pitz

In addition to stirring hearts with their beautiful, three-song acoustic session we recently caught up with Grant and Scott, the brothers Hutchison, of Scotland's Frightened Rabbit to discuss the roots of their songwriting, the personal qualities that seem to percolate about their craft, and how their newest album, Pedestrian Verse, turned the focus away from Scott Hutchison, the writer, to Frightened Rabbit, the band.

The Interview
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The get-together took place on a blustery day, east of the East River, at The Brooklyn Art Library, which houses The Sketchbook Project. The boys, it seems, have always felt quite at home in our city and up and down the East Coast. It was the first American region they explored and, being from Scotland, the easiest to come back to. Before they had the opportunity to take on our shores though, America was always on Scott's mind. "I grew up listening to American music," he told us. "The whole start of my songwriting career and path was when I was listening to artists like Ryan Adams and Wilco and Laura Cantrell and a lot of what you would term alt country."

The appeal of such artists has a lot to do with where Frightened Rabbit come from. "It's quite easy to see the connection between American, essentially folk music and Scottish folk music," explains Grant. "The roots of both are quite heavily tied to the land and working. There is a definite strong connection between the two."

On past releases like The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter of Mixed Drinks, that kind of work has been of the introspective variety, as Scott has never been shy of plodding and tilling his own life for inspiration. The deeply personal nature of his songwriting has always been part of the band's appeal, though it hasn't come without complications. "The public nature of the outlet has caused problems, I guess," explains the singer. "It's an unnatural way to air grievances. A lot of times, even Grant, my brother, or people I've been in relationships with, the first they've heard of these instances were within song, and that's odd."

For his part, Grant doesn't seem so concerned. "When Scott first started writing songs, there wasn't an audience there to make it a conscious decision to use it for that purpose. That came on record two or three, which I guess is when it became a public outlet," says the other Hutchison brother. "By that point you can't really change it, you can't take it back." Those old habits certainly inhabit a song like "Holy", which the band performed for us. It's a story about a period of time where Scott admits to "drifting off the map a bit", not heeding his friends' advice, and being a "slightly belligerent fool." He later explains, "One of the reasons why there are still a set of personal songs on this record is because I kind of can't help it."

Still, as meditative qualities inflect the album, the band also tried to shape the sound and the process a little differently when they set out to write and record Pedestrian Verse. Where earlier releases were very much rooted in Scott as the main singer-songwriter, this album is more collaborative in nature; a quality that makes Pedestrian Verseunlike any album the band has released before. As our own writer Dorit Finkel testified when the album was first released, "Their songwriting has taken on a new maturity and focus thanks to their freshly collaborative approach. The result is stunning: instead of a tentative confessional collage, each song comes off as a piercing novella, be it about homelessness, addiction, or songwriting itself."

That piercing quality has had an effect on the band members themselves as the new processes have sparked a whole new investment in the band. "There is definitely a greater sense of togetherness and achievement," Scott concludes. You'll hear it in the album, you'll hear on the stage, and we think you'll hear it in the band's very special, three-song Baeble session.

The Session

Watch the full video at Baeblemusic.com

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