Frightened Rabbit are bringing last year’s Painting Of A Panic Attack to Oz. Lead singer Scott Hutchison tells Kate Kingsmill we might be lucky it exists at all.
They say you should write about what you know, and since their debut record Sing The Greys in 2006, Frightened Rabbit have developed a virtual trademark on epic songs about heartbreak and hangovers. Their latest album, Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, appears to be inspired almost entirely by drinking.
“Inspiration might be the wrong word,” says guitarist, singer and lead songwriter Scott Hutchison. “I think it’s certainly something that for better or worse has been a fairly constant thing since I was a young adult. I think it’s partially the same in Australia, although you may be a little healthier than us in Scotland. I think a lot of people don’t understand how ingrained it is in Scottish culture that that’s where things happen, in the pub, and that’s where I spend a lot of time, especially being on tour and stuff, it’s just sort of always there. And that’s not a good thing, necessarily, as I guess you can tell from the songs a lot of the time.”
Australia’s own robust drinking culture means Frightened Rabbit feel quite at home when they play here, returning regularly — almost annually — for the last few years. “You tend to find about a third of the audience is Scottish anyway when we play in Australia. And I do feel like, specifically noting the differences between Melbourne and Sydney, not to play them off each other but it’s very similar to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow’s the kind of dirty town where there’s a very thriving arts scene and music scene and Edinburgh is slightly more professional, slightly more grown up, and expensive. And I think Melbourne has that feeling as well, it’s like a place where good art happens and it just goes into the culture.”
As for heartbreak, Hutchison says emotional intensity is something he is drawn to. “For better or for worse I’m drawn to extremes of emotion. When I feel something it’s a big deal, and that’s what informs it,” and the songwriting process helps him make sense of it all. “I am drawn to a big chorus, and I do love the standard structure of a song, I like that format, it’s what helps me to solidify ideas that would otherwise just float around in my head.”
There was a time, Hutchison admits, before the band embarked on Painting Of A Panic Attack, where they wondered whether or not the world needed another Frightened Rabbit record. He’d moved to LA to be with his girlfriend, leaving the rest of the band in Scotland, and there was initially a lack of direction. “It was just a certain amount of time before we found our feet with it, before we found the reason for it to exist. And then when we found this sort of theme, it really took shape and that’s when we discovered that there was a reason for it to exist. Essentially we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to mildly reinvent ourselves each time.”
Read the article on themusic.com.au here