Meet the Frightened Rabbit

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Paul John Caña

Paul John Caña

The Singapore leg of the annual Laneway Music Festival happens this Saturday, January 25 at The Meadow at the Gardens By The Bay near Marina Bay Sands. For the third straight year, I’m going to be covering the event, bringing you all the highlights and sidelights from what is undoubtedly the region’s biggest indie music festival.

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For the past few weeks, I’ve also brought you exclusive interviews with some of the artists in the Laneway lineup, including Chvrches, Haim, Kurt Vile and Jagwar Ma. My Laneway 2014 artists’ series concludes today with this interview with Grant Hutchison, drummer of the Scottish indie rock group Frightened Rabbit. The band that has its roots as a solo project of Scott Hutchison (Grant’s brother and vocliats/guitarist) has been a staple of the Scottish indie music scene since the mid-2000s. The band achieved widespread acclaim when they signed with a major label in 2010 and came out with Pedestrian Verse just last year.

Composed of the Hutchison brothers, Billy Kennedy (guitars/bass), Andy Monaghan (guitars/keyboards), and Gordon Skene (guitar/keyboards), Frightened Rabbit has a melodic rock sound reminiscent of Biffy Clyro and We Were Promised Jetpacks. The band’s popularity has shot up in the last year or so, thanks in no small part to an enthusiastic endorsement from teen pop group One Direction’s Harry Styles. Excerpts:

The Manila Times: Where are you and what’s outside your window?

Grant Hutchison: I am currently in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Outside I can see a truck full of our gear.

TMT: The band used to be a solo project of your brother Scott. How did it evolve into what it is now?

GH: Scott was on his own supporting friends during open mic nights. He didn’t really tell anyone that he was doing it. He had songs these songs in his head. He asked me to join him and eventually we got together with Billy, Andy and Gordon.

TMT: When you and Scott were growing up, what sort of music did you listen to?

GH: A lot of Scott’s and my musical taste arose from Neil, our older brother. When we went to university, we had very similar tastes in music. Personally a band that I was into a lot was Ben Folds Five. When I started taking drums in high school, they were a band that I really liked. I also liked Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a really good album. Basically Americana music and a lot of Scottish artists. Belle and Sebastian to some extent, you know.

TMT: You’ve been a band since the mid-2000s, but it was only with your fourth and most recent album, Pedestrian Verse, that you really exploded and reached a wider audience. What did you do differently?

GH: Well, the writing process for this record was quite different. Before it was just Scott who wrote the music, but this time it was more of a collaborative effort from all of us. I think this created a broader sound. Previously, the solo effort gave it a narrow scope, so [everyone’s input] helped in sort of opening up the band sonically as well.

TMT: I have to ask about One Direction. Ever since Harry Styles said he was a fan of yours, have you noticed an increase in the number of teenage girls in your shows?

GH: (Laughs) Not yet! I mean, when that post went up on Facebook and Twitter, it was the highest activity we have ever had on both those sites. And in terms of the gigs, we’re coming to the end of a current [tour]so I wish he’d said it at the start of the year, you know? (Laughs) but yeah, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but obviously they have their own sound, and we have ours.

TMT: Are you a fan yourself of any mainstream pop artists?

GH: Absolutely! I’m a huge fan of Ellie Goulding. I think Katy Perry’s latest song “Roar” is really great. I don’t actually know many One Direction songs (chuckles). But I do love mainstream pop, it’s got its place in music.

TMT: You’re playing in Laneway this  month. Have you been to Southeast Asia before? And who are you most looking forward to  seeing perform?

GH: We have never been to Southeast Asia. We’ve been to the airport in Singapore on our way to other places, but of course that’s not the same. I can’t wait. I’m so excited and I’m really looking forward to it. For me it’s going to the best part of the trip. It’s just somewhere that I’ve really wanted to visit and travel to for a very long time now but I’ve never really had the chance to go. As for the festival I’m looking forward to seeing Haim, Chvrches, and so many other bands. And hopefully, there would be local bands in some of the legs, in Australia especially, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Tickets to Laneway Singapore are still on sale. Manila-based indie music fans can purchase their tickets via <ticketworld.com.ph>. For more information, visit <singapore.lanewayfestival.com>

Email me at pjcana@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @pauljohncana

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