“It’s a good combination of beauty and horror…” - hmv.com talks to Frightened Rabbit
As they release their new album Painting Of A Panic Attack (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page) we chatted with Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison about writing new songs between continents, why this is an album inspired by isolation and their plans for a summer of festivals.
Your new album’s out today, how did making this album compare to making your previous four?
“It’s the longest time we’ve ever spent making an album and there are a couple of reasons for that. We took a break after touring solidly for a year and a half on the last album, we had a few months away, reset and came back in August of 2014 and started again. Then I was living away in Los Angeles and so we had to write remotely and it just took a while to find our feet. Once we’d found them it came together quite quickly, there were just a few stumbles.”
This is your first time recording without Gordon (Skene, former guitarist) and with Simon Liddell on guitar, how was that?
“Simon was a really key part of this record, he was incredibly enthusiastic about recording and we really fed off that. 10 years of writing and touring dulls your senses, but his passion really rubbed off on us.”
Has how you write songs changed as the band has evolved?
“It’s evolved a lot. At the start it was just me, it was that way for the first three albums, Pedestrian Verse was the first real album that we wrote as a band and this time it was really tipped on its head. The band were writing in Glasgow and I was writing on my own in Los Angeles, we’d send each other stuff and then take it away, so it’s a real mongrel of an album, it was written all over the place. I like that though, it’s eclectic.”
You worked with Aaron Dessner, who’s in The National, why did you decide to work with him?
“We’d toured with them and we knew he liked our band and my solo record and we kept in touch. It happened after a chap from our record label bumped into him and mentioned that we were looking for someone to work with and he was really keen straight away. I went to his house in Brooklyn and played his some demos and we did five days working together and we got through a lot. He seemed really invested in the material and I wanted to keep going. I think this album really has his stamp on it and I’m happy about that, there aren’t a lot of people we trust to get so involved with us, but he’s one of them.”
What do you look for in a producer? Would you ever produce yourself?
“I look for someone who is able to rein us in. I can go over the top and make these big, luscious sounding songs even if the song doesn’t demand it. Aaron likes to let songs breathe, to practise restraint and be lean, I want a producer who is opposite to me, rather than someone who will be a total yes man.”
Can you sum up the album lyrically?
“I’m only just starting to get my perspective on it really. It’s a lot about isolation, building an island with one other person and how lonely and intoxicating that can be, the two of us against the world kind of thing.”
Where did the title come from?
“It’s a line in the first song and I think it sums up the record, like with a lot of our albums I think it’s a beautiful way of remembering something that wasn’t very pleasant to go through at the time, it’s a good combination of beauty and horror, an easy soundscape matched with dark and twisted lyrics, so the title refers to that contrast.”
Do you find titles easy to come by?
“Last time I had Pedestrian Verse from day one, this time we went through so many rounds of discussion and our label had to chase us for a title. I wanted something less familiar, but this one just made sense, although it took f***ing forever to get there.”
You could have always self-titled it...
“I hate that! I don’t think you can do that for album number five, it’s a cop out. Maybe I’ll eat my words on the next record though, I’ll come and apologise then.”
What are your plans to take the record out live?
“You’ve got a short UK run and then a big US run and then it’s a summer of festivals. I’m really looking forward to it this time and we’re all itching to go again, we’ve been off the road for two years so we can’t wait to get out there.”
What kind of setlist are you bringing? You’ve got a lot of material now...
“On our last tour we played the same set for six months and because we know we have a lot of songs we’re going to vary it a lot more, it’ll still be an hour and a half, but much more rotated.”
Frightened Rabbit’s new album Painting Of A Panic Attack is out now and available to purchase here from hmv’s online store.