Text Agiani Salima
Frightened Rabbit has been around for quite some time now—10 years to be exact. Although primarily a solo project of vocalist Scott Hutchison’s, Frightened Rabbit has developed into a blossoming five-piece band with a row of albums that are hugely successful not only among the critics, but also in the ears of music listeners around the world. The band released their fourth album Pedestrian Verse early this year, which saw them undergoing a shift in the creative process as well as sharing the stage with The National in the States. We chatted over the phone with drummer Grant Hutchison about Frightened Rabbit’s biggest show at Brixton Academy in London, bicycles, and what it feels like being Harry Styles’ new favourite band.
Hi Grant! How was your show at Brixton Academy? We heard it was Frightened Rabbit’s biggest show to date.
Yes, it’s our biggest show ever. It was amazing. Really, really good. A lot of fun. London’s always a bit difficult place to play. The crowds aren’t always the most responsive. But for some reasons, and the venue itself, although it was our biggest show and there were ten thousand people there, it still very much felt like an intimate gig. Everyone was just ready and the reaction was incredible. It felt great.
Do you prefer to play in big arenas or in smaller venues with a more intimate setting?
Yeah, we definitely prefer a more intimate show where it’s better for our sound and our personality. We like to connect to the audience so it’s important for us to be able to do that. But like I said, the show at Brixton, there’s something about the venue that made it feel like one of those intimate shows. So that was great. But recently, in the US tour that we just did, we actually made a decision with our manager and agent to spend a few nights in smaller venues rather than one night in a bigger place because we wanted to get back that intimate feeling that we’ve lost in the last year. So that was great fun.
You just released your fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, and for the first time all band members have a contribution in the songwriting process. What was the story behind that decision?
It was really Scott’s decision. When it came down to actually writing for the new record I think he felt that… He tried to do it himself. I think he felt that he was keeping it to himself a little bit, in terms of the formula for writing the songs, and introducing other people would kind of rejuvenate it. And I think that he felt it would take the band to a different direction. Not to change the sound or anything like that, but with each album we try to better ourselves and try something different. We felt that if we give our fans the same songs over and over it wouldn’t really be fair. And you know, as a five-piece band we’ve been together for years and I think we’re all kind of ready to do it as well.
Does the shift in the creative process bring something new to the band?
Yeah, well I think we all felt more connection to the songs, and that’s important, especially when you’re releasing an album and going to interviews and all that. You get asked about the album and the songs, it’s good to be able to say your thoughts about the songs rather than just say, “Oh, I think Scott would feel like that,” you know? He’ll still write the lyrics because it’s important to keep something that’s been going on through all of our songs and album—to keep it sounding like Frightened Rabbit. I think it’ll bring us closer together when it comes to touring as well.
We heard that you’re bringing along a bicycle with you on tour. How’s that going?
Well, to be honest I do have it with me in the last UK tour but I haven’t been on it at all. I had it for around the year and it went well. I rode on it for most days. And then I came back home, and the weather was very different and I was just a bit tired. We came back from the US and we had two days at home. I’ve been getting all the jetlag so, yeah, no bicycle on this UK run. But we’ve got a couple of weeks in Europe after this, so it’s gonna come with me and I’m gonna force myself to ride it (laughs).
Is there anyone else in the band that will be bringing a bicycle or other sports equipment along on this tour?
(Laughs) No, I don’t think so. I think I’m the only one. But it felt really good, when I’m in the US, to exercise while being on tour. On this UK tour I haven’t done any exercise and I actually end up feeling more tired. So yeah, I’ll force myself.
We’re sorry to bring this up but Harry Styles from One Direction recently mentioned Frightened Rabbit as his new favourite band and it has since became a very huge deal…
(Laughs) No worries, we’re very proud of it.
What was your initial thought when you heard about the news?
Well, yeah I thought it was funny. I laughed initially, but I think the route that they took… A lot of these manufactured bands, they forget that they have their own identities and their own personalities. They always do exactly what they were told to do, you know? That’s generally the case. It’s good to see that he’s a got a mind of his own and he obviously chose that list of bands that we were in on his own and not by somebody who wrote that annual for them. So it was good and, you know, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
If you were in Harry Styles’ position what band would you recommend to your fans to listen to?
There’s a great band in Glasgow who we’re great friends with, called The Twilight Sad. I think they don’t get the recognition that they deserve. There’s also a new band called Holy Esque. They’re just starting out and they just released a four-track, sophomore EP. They’re great, really good. Hopefully, I think, they’re gonna do quite well. They should have an album out next year.
Frightened Rabbit performed at Laneway Festival Singapore on Saturday 25 January 2014 at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay.