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Frightened Rabbit has come back to Boston. “You can’t take away from what Boston crowds bring to show, there’s something… I’ve always said it’s the closest I’ve felt to playing at home,” said frontman Scott Hutchison. “Honestly, I don’t just say this about everywhere. I’m not just buttering you up.” And we’re clearly happy to have them, especially at WERS studio, where three of the band’s members–Scott Hutchison, Grant Hutchison, and Gordon Skene–stopped by to play a few tunes.
The band is on the last leg of the American segment of their tour, which won’t wrap up in its entirety until early December. Touring aside, it’s been a prolific year for Frightened Rabbit. In late 2012 they released their EP State Hospital, as a proper introduction to their fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, and in September, they released another EP, Late March, Death March. “We made a lot of music and we didn’t want to just have it lying around or relegate it to B-side status, and an EP is great for that, to give those songs a place.” said Hutchison about their many releases.
Pedestrian Verse marked a new beginning for the band in a lot of ways (and perhaps hindsight will prove it a turning point). Their previous releases had been with Fat Cat Records, but for the fourth album, they teamed up with their first major label, Atlantic Records. This was an unusually positive experience for the band. “It was a really new and more exciting process because we were given the space, time and resources to do whatever we wanted,” said Hutchison, “But they were so open and you have to give them credit for letting us alone and letting us make the record the way that we wanted.”
It also marked the first time that the band composed together. Previously, Scott wrote all of the bands material, much of which dealt with his own struggles and heartbreak. “It was starting to get indulgent,” he said, “People would show up for a… gig and listen to me moan at them for an hour and a half.” So the band rented a house and worked for a few months as artists in residence and built a record. Hutchison didn’t just expand the writing duties beyond himself; he opened up the scope of characters featured in the songs. “Home From War” (from the State Hospital EP), inspired by the Scottish sitcom Gary Tank Commander soldier returned from war without anything to do, discusses the feeling of listlessness of returning home without a purpose, a feeling Hutchison can relate to, coming home from a long tour to find that everyone else has moved on and you’ve got nothing to occupy the day The song “State Hospital,” featured both on the EP of the same name and Pedestrian Verse, tells the story of a woman born into poverty and treading the same downward spiral that everyone tells her she will follow. It began as an experiment. Inspired by his favorite songwriter Craig Finn from Hold Steady, Scott wanted to write a song from the female perspective, something that Finn does with skill. She is based on several people that Hutchison has known throughout his life and the kind of poverty that he has seen in his hometown Selkirk and in Glasgow, where he now lives.
In the WERS studio, the Hutchisons and Skene played a three-song acoustic set. The first song was “Holy,” which features propulsive guitar and percussion and toys with religious imagery. Next up was “Backyard Skulls,” stripped of the organ and synthesizers that the song normally calls for, but allowed the witty lyrics to really shine through. Finally, they played “Candlelit” off of the Late March, Death March EP, a beautiful tune that may be as close as Frightened Rabbit will ever get to a hopeful love song.
Once the tour has wrapped up and the new year begun, Frightened Rabbit plan to head back to the studio. Seeing as they’ve taken a new path with their most recent album, what’s on the horizon with the next album? Sappy love songs? “I wouldn’t go that far.” Hutchison chuckles. Whatever they produce, it’s sure to be good.