Scottish folk purveyors Frightened Rabbit have been steadily rising over the past few years and, with their new album ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks,’ look set to continue their trajectory. Originally the solo project of singer/guitarist Scott Hutchinson, the band eventually evolved into a fully formed band – including Scott’s brother Grant on drums. After the release of their second album ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ and its hectic tour schedule – which saw the band support US indie stalwarts Death Cab For Cutie – the band headed to rural Scotland to begin work on their third album.
‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ is an assured return, the gradual development of the group is obvious at the first listen – the tracks possess a sonic depth not heard on previous work – still they still maintain that qualities that made the band so intriguing in the first place. We caught up with them to discuss the new record, the recording process and their plans for the rest of the year.
Your latest album ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ is out now, tell us a bit about it?
I'm very happy with how it turned out. We had more time to create this record than we ever have, and I think that shows in the details we were able to put into each track. It’s a less personal record than the other two, though I feel it's more open and complete as an album. It was written in a village by the sea and I think that may have been the greatest influence on its content and sound. It’s a wide sonic landscape, and the central theme is of a human's journey to the wilderness, by whatever means: swimming/walking/drinking/jumping etc...
Where did the name come from, or is that period a bit of a blur?
No, I do remember the where and why of it all. It's an old nickname, given as a result of my lack of social skill. I thought it was mildly amusing to use it as a moniker when playing to rooms of people - something that has honestly never terrified me in the same way as a social occasion can.
The lead single ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ made the NME top 50 tracks of last year...how much do you take notice of accolades like this?
It's nice to be recognised in that way, especially as I've never thought of us as an 'NME band'. But I'm glad they liked it. I do read most of our reviews, and although our fans' opinions matter more to me than most journalists, it can buoy the spirits if you read a good one.
You decamped to a small town in Scotland to record the album. Was escaping the hectic routine of touring important for you to make the album?
Very important. I felt a need to get healthy again, physically and mentally. I didn't expect to start writing again so quickly, but being out there alone just got my brain working. Touring so extensively is just not good for the brain or the body, and I never write on tour so I had to do something reasonably extreme to offset that.
How did the location influence your song writing?
The location became a central part of the content. I was right on the coast and references to that landscape permeate the record as a whole. I think the sound is perhaps calmer, less grasping than ever before, and I would certainly attribute some of that to the effect that Crail had on me.
The band's lineup has expanded since earlier recordings. Was this a natural progression? Or did you feel you needed a larger group to translate your ideas.
Well, both I suppose. Since we started, one new member has been added each year, which is about as slow and organic as you can get really. It's important to choose carefully when adding to the band and thus far we've got it pretty much right, as right now we feel better than ever about our live set up.
You played to 80,000 people at 2009’s Hogmanay – how did it feel playing to such a large audience?
Well, they weren't all watching us, but it was a nice night all the same. I'd never been to the NYE celebrations in Edinburgh and it was quite a sight to see all those faces in front of us as we played. Plus I got to wander home afterwards, which is always a pleasure.
You guys are playing SXSW later in the year, have you played before?
Yes, twice. Can't wait to go back. Austin is a complete zoo for those 5/6 days, and there's really no guarantee that it'll work out for you - but it’s the pure randomness of the whole thing that makes it exciting.
After the calm of recording, or you looking forward to getting back on tour?
Yes I am actually, though I personally hit a bit of a wall with the touring last year. I had stopped enjoying myself, which sounds ridiculous and perhaps a little spoiled, but it was really losing its appeal. After a bit of time off, you find the desire grows back and now I'm itching to play the new songs.
Finally, how would you sum up the album?
That's not really for me to do. I'll leave that to everyone else.
'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks' is out now through Fat Cat Records.