By Simon Weedn
In the indie music world, Scotland has a lot to be proud of these days. Both Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand have garnered a great deal of acclaim over the years and now, Selkirk’s Frightened Rabbit is seeing similar success. Having started in 2003 as a solo endeavor by lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchinson, the band has since filled out to include Scott’s brother, Grant Hutchinson, as well as Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Gordon Skene while developing a devout, international fan base ever since. In the seven years since becoming fully formed, the band has been incredibly prolific, releasing four studio full-lengths, a live album and a slew of EPs all to great critical reception. The band’s hard driving and beautifully passionate brand of indie rock is nothing short of stunning and their albums have thus far done great justice to representing the band’s talents.
Most recently the band released its fourth studio LP entitled, Pedestrian Verse, which shows the band continuing to evolve and work tirelessly to hone its style and skills. Frightened Rabbit has always gone for a big sound on their records, yet, Pedestrian Verse seems to see the band going sonically to the next level. The album is incredibly enveloping and songs like “Holy” are so captivatingly passionate that it almost feels like Hutchinson is reaching through your speakers, grabbing hold of your collar and commanding your attention. While there is no doubt that the inclusion of veteran producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, David Byrne) helped the band to achieve such heights with Pedestrian Verse, the album’s strengths might also have to do with many changes in the band’s approach to writing the album. Hutchinson explained in an article he wrote prior to the record’s release that he had tried to broaden his focus lyrically. Many of the previous records had mainly been about himself, and even more specifically, bad breakups. Though another rough end to a relationship made its way into some of the lyrics in Pedestrian Verse, much of the record attempts to focus outside of Hutchinson instead of within him. Additionally, for the first time, the band took many of the songs out on the road prior to recording in an attempt to hone them and craft them further before entering the studio. On this topic Hutchinson muses, “We had all the tunes written and assembled and then we took them on a small tour of Scotland last year because we’d noticed, over time with the older songs, the more we played them, they’d sort of develop and change simply through us getting a little bit bored with them. So we wanted to apply some of that to the new songs, so by the time we got into the studio, we felt that they were worn in.”
A final major change to the band’s path with the new record was Hutchinson’s involving the band in the entire writing process. In the past, most records were completely written by Scott whereas this one, he sought out the input of the other band members, he explains, “I wanted this album to be written inclusively, you know, with everyone in the band,” he continues, “I wanted this to be a band album, that was one of the reasons we took the songs out on the road and, for the first time, recorded the songs live as a five piece in the room together. “It is most likely due to these changes in approach that the band was able to capture the power and strength in a studio with Pedestrian Verse, that most only attain in a live setting.
One thing is certain, those in attendance of its shows, especially the band’s headlining engagements like the one at The Glass House, will be in for a real treat. There is nothing quite like seeing a band that thrives in a live setting, performing and headlining shows that ensure the band has full control over the length of their set times. Though the band is happy to be playing for support slots for bands as renowned as The National, Hutchinson admits, “It’s difficult, we only really have between half an hour and forty-five minutes and that doesn’t even cover the lens of one of our records and you have to admit that you’re going to disappoint a few people by not including certain things.” Conversely, for the headlining spots Hutchinson explains, “We can kind of play as long as we like and I think, especially now that we have all that material under our belts, it’s good to be generous with it.”
Frightened Rabbit w/ AUGUSTINES at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.com. Thurs, Oct. 3. 8pm. $20.