Frightened Rabbit join Editors in band of brothers
Having an ‘angle’ can make an interview a lot easier. But you can be spoiled for choice when it comes to interesting discussion topics.
Take Mastersystem. Scott Hutchinson is best known as founder and songwriter of Frightened Rabbit. But now there’s the ‘supergroup’ he’s formed with brother Grant (the FRabbit’s drummer) and Justin and James Lockey – yes, another family affair. Surely there must be some tales of sibling rivalry?
The seeds of Mastersystem were sown in a Frightened Rabbit tour of the Highlands more than five years ago, with the Lockeys videoing the whole trip – filmmaker James has since hooked up with sundry members of Mogwai and Slowdive in Minor Victories along with brother Justin of chart stars Editors.
So the supergroup tag is again merited, but for Hutchinson, it was more a chance to do something different. “Justin and James presented me with the instrumental tracks pretty much fully formed, so I didn’t have to play any guitar on this album at all,” he revels. “It was nice to have another outlet that was simply lyrics and vocals.”
Frightened Rabbit fans may fear that their favourites may neglected the ‘day job’ with this new diversion, but Hutchinson is quick to allay these fears. “Maybe some of these themes could have ended up on a Frightened Rabbit album,” he admits, “but we weren’t really writing a lot at that time, so it all went into Mastersystem.”
The new album has been described as “middle-aged angst”. “There’s always more where that came from,” laughs the singer, who has approached depression and mental wellbeing in previous Frightened Rabbit works. “I feel like the next Frightened Rabbit album should maybe have a bit less of that on it anyway, as it’s all getting a bit tried and tested. What I’ve taken from writing for Mastersystem is that there can be really pleasing results in NOT overthinking the lyrics.”
However, fans should have no fears of Frightened Rabbit winding up business just yet. “Fifteen years is a decent shift,” concedes the singer, “Only having one facet to your work life can get pretty boring and dipping the toes in elsewhere can only benefit the band as far as I’m concerned.
“I think we’re all restless,” he continues, “which is why we do things like this. Simon was recently involved in making music for a theatre production, Grant’s looking to start a cider import business - genuinely!"
All that lies ahead, as does the First Incident festival, the band putting on a one-day summer event in Glasgow.
“There came a time recently where we recognised that what we have now in terms of success and reach is probably not going to increase much, so we felt the need to attempt to grow other branches on the tree," Hutchinson admits.
“All the side projects and endeavours are actually aimed at sustaining Frightened Rabbit, not ending it. I think we would like this festival to be properly curated in every sense, from the music to the drinks, the food and the rest of the night after the bands are done. Although ours is taking place in the city, not a field, we’d take inspiration from wonderful festivals like End of the Road or Electric Fields. They both present a great consistency in the experience.”
Despite all this forward planning, we could as easily be looking backwards, as Frightened Rabbit are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of breakthrough album ‘Midnight Organ Fight’.
“A lot of it was luck,” he admits. “I didn’t sit around constructing a story or narrative to the album, but it did end up having one. Heartbreak, hurt, sadness and emotional anguish will never go out of fashion.
"I think it’s a very human album and as long as there are humans, I hope it will still have a few ears tuning in.”
Mastersystem’s album Dance Music is out now. Frightened Rabbit’s First Incident festival takes place at Glasgow’s SWG3 on June 1.