Six years and four album into your career isn’t a common point for an act to reach their peak, yet for Frightened Rabbit it very much looks like being a turning point. Having taken their indie life as far as they could with label Fat Cat and their excellent The Winter Of Mixed Drinks album, the band have moved to pastures new in the shape of Atlantic Records. The result is the even more excellent Pedestrian Verse, a record that cements their new status. State spoke to Scott Hutchinson about the album, in particular the stunning opening track ‘Acts Of Man’ – a song that very much that sets the tone for what’s to come. “It was important for us to do that”, he agrees. “I think there was a collective concern in our fanbase that we’d change somehow after moving to a major label, become this bland concern”.
From that opening on, Pedestrian Verse feels like a true collection rather than a number of songs thrown together. Was that the aim?
“Part of me feels old fashioned for wanting a record to hang together but we did think a lot about tracklisting, although in a digital age people will probably just put it on shuffle. There was eighteen months of writing for this record and that’s quite a varied body of work, but (producer) Leo Abrahams managed to help us solidify the tone and the overall sound of the album. He helped us bring it together at the end”.
If your fanbase were concerned about your move to a major, how did you feel about it?
“To be honest, we were really happy to be on the label but were ready to fight our corner. We knew the classic story of what can happen to a band when they make that move and didn’t want that to happen to us, having spent six years building something ourselves. That fight never had to happen. They were very aware that we were a band of experience and that it would have been detrimental to try and change us so those concerns dissipated very quickly”.
Surely that experience must have counted for something?
“Hopefully. We’ve seen all facets of the industry – we’ve self-released, we’ve been on a very small label – and you learn a lot over that time. We’re not a band who’ve had their arses wiped for them for the past few years. Perhaps if we’d been in this position earlier on in our career it could have been damaging and we might have bowed to that pressure to change, but right now it feels really good to me”.
One thing that stands out in Pedestrian Verse is a sense of place. It doesn’t feel like anything other than a record by a Scottish band...
“The writing was all done in Scotland, three blocks of a month each. I don’t know if I realised it until the record was nearly done but I think I wanted to get across a sense of suburbia, the city and of Scottish dwellings. I was trying to observe Scottish culture and what it’s like to live here in a lot of ways. Perhaps it’s not conscious but where we come from is very important to our identity as a band and I would never want to change that. It’s all over this record. It’s now almost the norm that you sing in your own accent but that used to be very uncool – associated with either old folk music or The Proclaimers. Then it seemed to just happen. It gives the whole thing a great feeling of honesty and that you’re not trying to hide behind anything”.
As a songwriter you have an easy way with a melody. Do you ever have to catch yourself and reign that side of your work in?
“No, no, I love writing like that. I’ve been trying to get to that level of melody whereby it’s so catchy but you can tie in your lyric and it’ll still work. I love hearing that people have been singing along tp one of our songs for a couple of weeks before they even realise what it’s about. They can be quite dark, twisted themes and they don’t know it. It’s like a doorway into something. That simplicity is a great way into our music. I love a pop melody, it’s something that unifies people”.
Pedestrian Verse is out now on Atlantic Records. We have five copies to give away. To enter just send your details to [email protected] by 6pm on Friday 15th February.