There's something different about Frightened Rabbit this time around. Maybe it's the more serious tone of the songs on their fourth record Pedestrian Verse
, or perhaps it's the maturity of their songwriting, but Frightened Rabbit's new album sounds vastly more polished than their previous records. The Scottish band, led by vocalist, lyricist and guitarist Scott Hutchison, has entered new territory with their latest record. The band worked inclusively to write and produce their music, which brought a more open-minded outlook to the stories told. Frightened Rabbit enlisted the help of Leo Abrahams, who has worked with Brian Eno and David Byrne, to produce Pedestrian Verse
. The result is something of a reincarnation of Jeff Magnum's Neutral Milk Hotel and in between the sound of Los Campesinos! and Local Natives.
Overall, Hutchison still has the comforting, melancholic sound down to a science. As past records may have been sonically disjointed, this record seems to have all of the tracks connecting like perfect puzzle pieces. Hutchison's lyrics are still just as romanticized and the harmonies are just as poignant as ever, but the band has moved to a new level. Listen to "Holy" or "Nitrous Gas" and try to disagree.
We recently gave Hutchison a ring to discuss Pedestrian Verse
and what it was like to share songwriting duties with the band.
I'm a big fan of your new record. It's been a bit of time since you released some new music. What have you been doing since your last record?
Well, we toured the last record for a bit. Following that, we took a long time to write. We came up with a long list of songs. The writing started off a little bit slower. We were writing for the first time as a group. All of the music that was previously written by myself and the whole thing was brought to the band as a finished article. This time around we started writing as a group, which meant that things took a little bit longer. I think the final product was worth taking that time to try and find a new way of working.
What was the story behind Pedestrian Verse? Was it from a lot of autobiographical events, or was it a concept album?
Really, the idea I was going for initially, which is why it's called Pedestrian Verse
. I was going to write lyrically about broader sections of society rather than just songs about my own life or my own personal experience. I started the record like that, and a few songs came out with the band after that, but I guess personal shit got in the way and it started seeping into the songs more and more strongly. It's almost like a record of two halves where a few songs focus on stories of characters that are not me; then there's some very, very personal stuff in there for me. I guess the way I started writing and the imagery I was using, which was maybe suburban or urban, more than the landscapes that I used before worked its way into the personal stuff. Hopefully people don't feel like it's too disjointed as a whole.
The whole album was produced by Leo Abrahams. What was it like working with someone who has worked with such a variety of artists?
He's got a real wealth of experience. By working with a diverse range of things, he not only has musical experience, but experience in dealing with different personalities. He's a very good person to work with. He's very open. He is completely up for experimentation, but at the same time, is very happy to say when something is not working. He really does take the range, which is weird for me because the range was before in my hands. It actually ended up being a fantastic experience for me to be able to let go a bit of control. It was great having Leo around. From the very outset, he completely got the songs. He really understood us as a band. I think that comes through on the record, how solid he deals with things. Actually, in making subtle changes, he made quite large ones in the process. It was kind of a feat. He's fantastic.
So, your EP prior to Pedestrian Verse was called State Hospital. It was quite an interesting name for an EP. What made you choose that name?
There were a few ideas for me. That actually boringly came down to a song from the EP. It was the name of a song. For me, it was an introduction, thematically to the next record. I guess, I wanted that song in particular to be the lead off of the EP, so people could see that I was trying to make some changes within the songwriting lyrically and sonically as well. I think it was a good bridge between records. State Hospital
, the naming of it, I don't know; I couldn't think of a better one.
You've been making music for a while now. How does this record reflect how you've grown as a musician and as a band?
Like I said before, a lot of the growth was within learning to work as a group as opposed to it just being my project. That was huge step for the band to feel like they were fully invested in the new songs, rather than having them given and their parts given. So, there was an investment there. The whole unit is perhaps solidified. I think everyone is comfortable with what place they have, what role they have within the band. Personally, I think naturally, in time, the more you do something, the better you become at it. This record more fully realizes things that I've been trying to do on other albums that I haven't been able to do. I think this is the one where it succeeds. That's the natural learning process. I've always learned from previous work.
Do you have touring plans yet?
Yup. We're going to be starting to tour on the 8th of February in the UK. That's four weeks. Then we come over to the U.S. around the 8th of March for four or five weeks. Then onwards to Australia and onwards to festivals. This plan is taking us up to the middle of May. All of the UK and half of the U.S. our support will be Wintersleep. Then the other half of the U.S. tour will be with a Scottish band called The Twilight Sad. I haven't met Wintersleep yet, but I'm a huge fan. I'm really pleased that they're coming out on the road.
What's the biggest change you've seen musically?
I think a lot of changes come from the process of learning. When we made our first record, we still weren't sure of how to use a studio or play in a studio. We knew part of what we were going to achieve, but we just grew through greater knowledge. I think our sound has been perceived to me more polished, but actually, what we've been doing is learning how to do that. In fact, that's what we wanted to sound like in the first place. Things have expanded, and things have become slightly more cinematic sounding than our first record, which was slightly more claustrophobic and didn't have quite the wide scope sonically that we have now.
is out now.
U.S. Tour Dates:
3/8 Seattle, WA Showbox at the Market
3/9 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre
3/11 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
3/12 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
3/13 Los Angeles, CA The Music Box
3/18 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre
3/19 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre
3/21 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theatre
3/22 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theatre
3/23 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
3/24 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley
3/26 Cincinnati, OH Bogarts
3/27 Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
3/29 Millvale, PA Mr Smalls
3/30 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
3/31 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
4/2 Boston, MA House of Blues
4/4 New York, NY Terminal 5
4/6 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
4/7 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
4/8 Carrboro, NC Cats Cradle
4/10 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
4/11 Birmingham, AL WorkPlay Theatre
4/12 Little Rock, AR The Rev Room
4/13 Dallas, TX Trees