Plans to turn Frightened Rabbit’s fourth studio album Pedestrian Verse into an album about other people’s lives hit a bit of a stumbling block when songwriter Scott Hutchinson endured a relationship break-up.
“It was one of those things,” he says now. “I would never claim for it to have been a life-threatening event, it was just very sad, and it can take over your thoughts.
“I couldn’t write about anything else – it had its way of taking over. I needed a way of expressing those thoughts.”
In a way, the experience mirrored that of the Selkirk indie rockers’ breakthrough album The Midnight Organ Fight, which was also penned after the collapse of a relationship.
“When I wrote The Midnight Organ Fight we didn’t have an audience,” he says. “When the audience grew, it felt like I was reading from my diary onstage.
“We thought the next record [The Winter Of Mixed Drinks] shouldn’t be quite so personal but we maybe lost something in doing that. For this album we wanted to get some of the honesty that people really fell for in this band in the first place. It’s the most interesting and arresting way to write.”
On Pedestrian Verse the band was keen not to dilute their sound, having moved from Brighton-based label FatCat to major Atlantic.
“We wanted to make sure we stayed on the path we were on before,” he says. “The great thing is we have got more freedom, time and resources to record exactly how we wanted.”
When it comes to performing these more heartfelt songs live, he admits he starts to feel a little distance.
“You would love to think that every sound is pure emotion, but when you play a song more than 200 times a year a lot of the meaning is lost,” he says.
“When you’re playing to an audience it’s no longer about you – it’s about them and what they bring to the song. It’s a good way of laying feelings to rest in a way.”
What makes Pedestrian Verse unusual in Frightened Rabbit’s canon is that most of the songs were performed live before being recorded.
“It changed the recording sessions a lot,” says Hitchinson. “It’s something we had never done before. It was something we had noticed with the older material, when you’re playing the songs on the road they took on a life of their own.
“It changed the energy of the record – it was an important step to take.”
It has made the album feel a little more anthemic – particularly on songs like Holy and The Woodpile.
Between writing and performing the Pedestrian Verse songs on the road and going into Monnow Valley Studios with Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams as producer, the band held their own short recording session, out of which came last year’s State Hospital EP.
“We wanted the songs to have a place in the sun rather than being B-sides or bonus tracks,” says Hutchinson.
The EP included a collaboration with a long-time hero of Hutchinson’s, former Arab Strap vocalist Aidan Moffat, who performed on the closing track Wedding Gloves.
“I was hugely influenced not only by Arab Strap, but mostly by his solo stuff he has recorded over the last couple of years,” he says.
“When I was recording the demo I found myself doing a bit of an impression of Aidan – and it hit me that the best guy to do an impression like that was Aidan himself. I couldn’t believe it when he emailed back.”
Frightened Rabbit is part of a wave of new Scottish bands who have enjoyed success over the pond, alongside The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Biffy Clyro.
“We’re almost stepping into the path of a wave of Scottish bands a few years back like Teenage Fanclub, Belle And Sebastian and Mogwai who started doing reasonably well in the US,” he says.
“We were ready and hungry for it. It has been amazing to see myself and my friends in other bands really take off over there.
“You don’t get the same experience everywhere – you can be playing to 1,500 people one night, travel for eight hours and you’re in front of 250 people.
“Part of the dream of the band was to tour the States – it’s easy to forget when you’re on tour number 12 and knackered...”
Support from Wintersleep and Washington Irving.
- Concorde 2, Madeira Drive, Brighton, Tuesday, February 12. Doors 7pm, SOLD OUT. Call 01273 673311