Frightened Rabbit Interviewed: "Songwriting Is A Dark And Twisted Process"

The much-loved Scottish rockers are just about to release their first album on a major, but they won't let you believe it's changed them...
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The much-loved Scottish rockers are just about to release their first album on a major, but they won't let you believe it's changed them...


The last time I saw Scott from Frightened Rabbit he called me a cunt. Now, to be fair to Scott it wasn't just me he called that; there were a fair few of us at 93 Feet East towards the back end of last year. Arriving onstage Scott announced: "This is for you lot at the front, not you cunts at the back".

When I spoke to him last week to talk about new album 'Pedestrian Verse', signing to Atlantic Records and a god awful American T.V show, I thought I'd bring the 'cunt' comment up early on:

Scott: (Laughing) Right yeah, I was aware of how much industry were there and we were conscious of not changing (since signing to Atlantic Records). We had to present the band's character and not just walk on and pretend to be this big band all of a sudden, it's not really our style. I wasn't including you in that, by the way...

S.T: Fair enough, is it right that new album 'Pedestrian Verse' was the first time other band members contributed to the songs?

Historically, I'd go away and write all the material then present it to the band, but towards the end of the last record I could see I was slipping into patterns and it wasn't moving forward enough, bringing them in was the logical step and a necessity if we were to progress as a band.

The record seems to be spilt between songs of society and heartache?

The idea was to write solely about other people and not myself, but inevitably personal stuff got in the way and I found myself only to being able to write about that. I wasn't really presented with a choice; I had to write about what was happening around me for the sake of my sanity I made a conscious effort not to edit or censor myself. I did that on the last record and that was one of its flaws. It's hurtful for the people involved in the situation to hear it in a song, it's a selfish thing to do really, but at the same time so is songwriting.

You've said that 'songs are a way of masking your flaws around something beautiful'.  Do you find yourself writing about the same flaws?

There is always a new set to write about, there is something strange in giving grandeur to the worst aspect of human behaviour, trying to provide heroic sounds to something shitty; it's a dark and twisted process, but that's how I deal with it.

You recorded at the notorious Mono Vally studios, what was it like?

When I was a kid I was into a lot of the records that were made there. The Charlatans - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - The Stereophonics. Just imagine the amount of shit that went down in those rooms, sounds crap now, but it meant a lot to a 15 year old me.

Mono Valley is a residential studio isn't it? Surely a few days got lost faffing around with drum patterns and excess?

Not for me unfortunately, I need a routine and to feel like I'm clocking on and off. Some people enjoy going till 5 am but for me that's a total waste of time.  Your brains are mush and you're basically dead. Other people had more time on their hands I suppose; if you're in Duran Duran or something you can fill your days with drugs, but there was none of that for us

What was the worst DVD you watched while you were there?

We got really into a show called 'Cheaters', which is a terrible, terrible show. I mean it's fair enough because it's the sleuthing out of unfaithful spouses and televising the confrontation.  But one guy, when confronted, ran into the toilet with a gun and threatened to shoot himself. I mean you have to laugh, but it's not strictly funny.

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Signing to Atlantic seems to of caused a bit of a stir?

I understand why people are talking about it, but its over the top and it's almost like people have formed their opinions before they have listened to the music. It's not relevant to us or the label- they have the right ethic and that suits us down to the ground. At the end of the day it's about the record.

You toured the remote parts of Scotland on your 'Highlands tour'.  What was that like?

We were lucky we never had to play to one man and his dog, although some people only came out because they'd heard a band was in town, they came up to us afterwards and say 'you might be onto something here boys'.

There was this 60 year old guy on his own in the hotel bar, it was 2 in the morning and he was on his iPad, we invited him over and it turns out he was training to be a hypnotist; he managed to put some really skeptical guys under, none of them turned into chickens like, but he was pretty slick, and thats how we met 'The Great Appletini'.

Took cojonas to cover of 'Whole Of The Moon' on New Years Eve?

We were going to something obscure but who wants to hear that on NYE? You know the demographic so just have to go for it you know, it's a bit cheesy buts that's what it's about isn't it? A couple of days ago, Mike Scott got in touch to say he approves, so that's good enough for us.

(It's at this point I went on a long and passionate eulogy about this video, in my opinion it's justification for the invention of the Internet, you may have different opinion (although it would be wrong)).

 Night is tonight, what are you doing?

Addressing the haggis with whisky and poetry- most Scottish celebrations involve getting drunk, so some rich oaty meat and a good old fashioned drunk.

Finally, can you settle a debate on the best pub snack for me?

Scampi Fries. I can do Bacon Fries, there all good, but it's scampi for me, I just like the way you can put it in your mouth and it will melt within 3 1/2 minutes. Tread carefully though...

'Pedestrian Verse' is released on the 4th February, through Atlantic Records