HT Interview: Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit

RD: So tell me about you and Grant’s childhood together as brothers; were you guys friends growing up?

SH: Uhh, I always got on with him quite well. We never really played music together though, especially in high school. It’s not exactly the coolest thing to have your little brother in the band. But there was never really any sort of physical violence [laughs].

Grant Hutchison: I could beat him up [laughs].

SH: He’s not really giving the same impression that I am. Well, he had a real severe hyperactivity problem as well, especially when he drank certain sweetened juices.

GH: Yeah, Scott and my older brother used to torture me.

SH: We used him as therapy. You’ve really burst a damn here. I think tonight’s show is going to be tense.

RD: You mentioned in a couple of previous interviews that Frightened Rabbit might not be through adding members? Are you thinking of adding a bass or perhaps other instruments like the banjo or mandolin from the live album?

SH: There is some bass in there now [gesturing towards keyboard player, Andy Monaghan]. We use some bass pedals and occasionally a bass guitar. There’s almost getting to be too much bass. Maybe we’ll scale back on bass [laughs]. No, we think it works fine at the moment, but we’ll see what happens when we record again, depending on how complex the next album gets. That was one of the main reasons we added Andy [for Midnight Organ Fight].

RD: Having toured pretty much around the world and being knee deep in the U.S. tour, are there any differences you’ve noticed between the U.S. music scene versus the U.K. or Europe?

SH: It’s a completely different beast, really. In the U.K. specifically, it’s pretty governed by one main publication – The Enemy. The hype there is so intense that no band could ever last. Sometimes, it’s even the case with these bands that haven’t even recorded anything yet, so the pressure is just tremendous. In the U.S., the blogs are cool. I mean individually, they don’t have too much power, well maybe one or two, but as a mass they do. I think it’s easier for a band like us here that isn’t necessarily making hip music today to garner an audience.

RD: So this is kind of a weird question, but have you heard of this movie, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist? It’s a sort of indie rock coming of age romantic comedy movie.

Grant: Just today we heard of it. Michael Cera’s new movie right?

RD: Yeah, so after I saw that, I mentioned to my wife that I thought some of your songs would be great in a movie like that, especially something like “Floating in the Forth” with the big climactic parts. So, the question is, if you could work on a movie or score a soundtrack, what would it be?

SH: You mean we’d be the next Randy Newman [laughs]?

GH: Animation would be really cool –I’d say the next Pixar film.

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RD: So, if you could recommend one European or U.K. music venue for U.S. to hit on a pilgrimage, what would it be?

SH and GH: The Barrowlands.

SH: The Barrowlands in Glasgow. It’s really important in the history of Glasgow music. It also has the comforts of being that one venue where you grew up seeing all your favorite bands, if you were lucky enough. It’s this old ballroom and the construction of the building is really well… old, so it doesn’t have exactly the right number of fire escapes. So, it feels really empty inside now days, so it has slightly lost its appeal. We’re not exactly selling it are we? No, it’s still really cool to see a band there.

RD: In terms of the guts of the music, it seems like most of your songs are written in a major key?

SH: Absolutely, I can’t seem to catch a melody in a minor key. I think I have a comfort zone that I feel sometimes I should leave, but my head seems to really like things tied together and that seems to work best with the major keys. I should probably try to move away, but I tend to gravitate to them.

RD: This question is for Grant. You tend to create really cool, technical drumlines, but constantly avoid drum fills. Is this by design?

GH: Yes, I like to keep it as simple as possible. You’ll notice there are no guitar solos either. We made the decision that we like better songs and that meant we had to get worse at our instruments. We used to be all about solos, but we found it sort of removes the feeling. I don’t really listen to any of those guys like Neil Peart that try to cram as much in there as possible. Hopefully people hear the drums and recognize the style though.

RD: Are there any bizarre comparisons that you tend to get?

SH: There’s one that happens all the time that I don’t get, which is the Counting Crows. I’ll accept it though.

RD: [laughs] I thought you might say that. I thought that too when I first heard you guys.

SH: There is one other one we get a lot too that I don’t see, which is the Fall.

RD: Finally, what do you do on the road to kill time? Any entertainment guilty pleasures?

GH: Lately, we’ve been watching a lot of The Office DVDs.

RD: British or U.S.?

GH: U.S., there is way more material. Plus, it’s a better show. I mean the British Office at the time was brilliant, but it’s done. I also just got a new drum pad to practice on, so I plan to annoy everybody with it. Oh, and we never talk in the van.

Thanks to the gents for taking the time to speak with us. Frightened Rabbit is currently in the midst of an American tour that takes them to Skully’s in Columbus, OH tonight, the Metro in Chicago tomorrow, High Noon in Madison on Friday and 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis on Saturday. For more tour dates and further information on Frightened Rabbit head to their MySpace.

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