Frightened Rabbit Discuss ‘Pedestrian Verse’

Scott Hutchison performs with Frightened Rabbit in London, September 2012. Photo: Helen Boast/Redferns

Last week Scottish rock act Frightened Rabbit announced the followup to their 2010 breakthrough, The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Dubbed Pedestrian Verse, the 12-song set is their major label full-length debut for Atlantic/Canvasback and features the band writing together for the first time as a five-piece unit. Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt) took on production duties, and the songs were recorded while the band lived together in some “big houses in Scotland.” Exactly where is the new Frightened Rabbit headed?  Hive caught up with the band’s lead vocalist Scott Hutchison to learn what to expect from Pedestrian Verse.

This fall Frightened Rabbit released an EP called State Hospital. Is that song indicative of what we can expect from the new album?

We chose that track because it felt like a good bridge between the last album and this one in terms of the sound and the content. Although I think a lot of the ideas that were in “State Hospital” are in the new record. Some of the ideas on “State Hospital” have been stretched a bit on the new record. I think there are definitely weirder elements than that song on the album, but we felt it was a crossing point. So there are clues there, but it’s not the entire story.

What are some of the ideas the new record shares with “State Hospital”?

A lot of what I’ve written about in the past has been centered around my own life. It’s a classic thing: When you spend your life in a band on tour, your life becomes much less interesting to write about. It’s not a bad life, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear songs about me being on a bus, then going and playing shows, and having a good time. A lot of what I fed off in the past were moments of turmoil in my life, and there were less of those. I spent so long writing about what I knew, and who I was, and what was going on in my life that I just wanted to see if they could turn my hand to something wider.

Stream the State Hospital EP below:

How has signing to Atlantic changed what you do?

It’s changed a lot. We did three month-long sessions writing together and living together, whereas before, we never had the means to do that. We never wrote together: I took them to the band, and that was that. It’s changed a lot. I think it’s made the whole process more exciting for me. We were given so much time. Financially, Atlantic don’t really need the next Frightened Rabbit album to come out ever – there was never any pressure, like, “When’s the album coming? When’s the album coming?” We were just left to write until we felt we were ready. It was a really free process where we didn’t have anyone leaning over our shoulders at all.

Whenever anyone says, “This is our full-band album,” the expectation is that it’s going to be a bigger, louder, more rock and roll album. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

It’s definitely not a rock-and-roll record. But the other thing we did differently is that, at the heart of all the songs, even though there are various overdubs and layers of sounds put on afterward, the heart of the songs is a live take, with all five of us in the room together. I think there’s something about that. Even though we haven’t made a raucous, live-sounding album, there’s an energy within that first take that you can’t get from just layering up drums, and then putting bass on top of that, and then putting guitars on top of that. That, I think, makes a slightly more stale product. So there is some of that “can’t-put-your-finger-on-it” type energy, and spontaneity. There are live takes on there, but it’s not a raucous, rock and roll record. I don’t see that in our future.

Did you have any specific goals in mind when you started working on this album?

I just wanted to do something different. With the last record, toward the end of the writing process, I might have started to feel like I was stagnating. My creative process was becoming too familiar to me, and there were patterns in the way I was doing things. I got a bit fed up with the way that I was working. For me, the goal at the start was to do something that felt new and fresh, rather than treading any old ground. There are still familiar elements to it that are absolutely – people who’ve listened to us over the past four or five years are going to find familiar parts – but all I wanted to do was do something that felt different, and felt exciting to me again. For my own perspective, the creative process had become a bit stale.

Pedestrian Verse is out February 5. Pre-order it here

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