After an extensive tour for their 2013 release Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbit took some well-earned time out. Singer-guitarist Scott Hutchinson worked on an album called Owl John with guitarists Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell whilst his brother and drummer Grant cycled around the UK in aid of Cystinosis Foundation UK.
“Fallon is actually really nice, he came up to us and had a chat before the show. Letterman’s a dick though and James Cordon”
Grant recalls: “We’d ran ourselves into the ground a bit. We definitely needed a break from it. It had stopped being fun for us, and we didn’t like that.”
During this time Scott moved away from their hometown of Glasgow to Los Angeles to live with his girlfriend of the time. Although the relationship didn’t work out, the experience resulted in material for their most recent album Painting Of A Panic Attack, and many detailed interviews about the inspiration behind it.
“The lyrics are what people attach themselves to the most, and Scott’s are very personal. He writes about his experiences but they’re experiences everybody goes through. I don’t think he gets tired of interviews getting too invasive, at the end of the day really, he’s dug his own grave there, and he knows that.”
Grant continues: “That’s what our fans love, they’re the kind of fans whose kids will grow up listening to the music. No one is going to be talking about their favourite music in 30 years and play Gangnam Style as an example.
“Its Frightened Rabbit. We could easily put some shit lyrics together and make a song but we want to make something timeless.”
Painting Of A Panic Attack, the band’s fifth studio album, was released in April last year and produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner who had befriended Scott in the US and flown to Glasgow to meet the rest of the band.
Grant reflects on the experience of working with Dessner: “It was difficult. It took a lot of time to adapt. Obviously there was the pressure that comes along with working with Aaron but we didn’t have a lot of confidence in ourselves. We couldn’t turn around and be like ‘actually we like it this way instead’, which was a shame. Not to say it wasn’t a great experience because it was.
“After the break it was easier for us all to work together. We all know now how to communicate with each other; we can just say ‘I’m pissed off, leave me alone’ and it’s understood. But at the end of the day, great albums need tension.”
After touring the UK in December, and putting on three consecutive shows the week before Christmas at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, the band have taken a month to enjoy the holidays with their families.
But will another break be needed after finishing the tour on this album? Grant is pragmatic. “We appreciate where we are, we don’t take for granted the fact that we get to travel the world doing something we love. We just needed some time. It hasn’t felt like a chore this time.
“The Glasgow shows were incredible. I’ve been going to the Barrowlands since I was 16 you know? To play three shows to 2,000 people a night was crazy. Obviously you’ll think I’m biased but it’s the best venue in the world.”
The tour continues in February with some time in Ireland then Australia, then it’s festival season. After a few sets at big festivals last summer, this year is for the smaller, independent festivals, including a headline slot at Leicester’s Handmade Festival.
“Festivals have completely changed in the last 10 years, the volume of them has exploded. The huge corporate festivals are good at what they do; they throw money at bands and keep fans pissed all weekend, it’s good enough.
“But what happens to bands like us when we play bigger festivals is that the crowd is just waiting for the headline act to come on. They’re not as fun as the smaller ones, where the fans are there for every band and the staff genuinely love working.”
Festivals hold a special place in the bands’ hearts; “There was a moment back in 2007 or 2008 at Connect Festival in Scotland that is probably one of my favourite moments in the band, when we were playing the new bands stage as a three piece.
“Scott had posted on social media a while back that he’d send out a biscuit with every demo sold, and before this show he posted again asking fans to bring the biscuits along. We wanted to see if anyone was there for us I guess. So Scott mentions it on stage and suddenly there’s this barrage of biscuits thrown at us. It was brilliant.”
“I can’t remember what biscuits they were… we wanted to avoid breakage so we picked the toughest biscuits. I dunno, what are the toughest biscuits? Maybe Digestives? I don’t think they stayed intact anyway. They’re biscuits, they’re all fragile.”
For my final question, I ask Grant to think back to 2010, when the band performed on Late Night with… Jimmy Fallon, and to tell me if Fallon is a bit of a dick… because… I want to know.
“Fallon is actually really nice, he came up to us and had a chat before the show. Letterman’s a dick though and James Cordon. He didn’t talk to us at all, and he asked what the name of the band was again through his mic that we were all connected to before introducing us, and still got it wrong anyway. Yeah, a dick.”
Frightened Rabbit play Handmade Festival taking place on April 29th and 30th at O2 Academy Leicester.