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Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison on the power of music on mental health
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Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison has spoken out about the importance of using music as a vehicle to discuss mental health.

Renowned for his frank and confessional writing style, Hutchison has spoken to NME about his relationship with his past songs, other artists and Frightened Rabbit’s own fans when it comes to the dialogue around mental health. Read our full Q&A with Hutchison below.

You’ve always been very open about your demons in your music. What do you get out of putting it into song?

Scott: “It just makes sense of things that don’t make sense. It neatly puts thoughts into a folder. It just makes something kind of neat out of something messy. That’s why I quite like the traditional song form, and I don’t really veer from it that often. It’s nice to have these complex thoughts that I’m having trouble processing, and then put them into almost a mathematical formula. There’s a satisfaction, and that comes before worrying about whether I should be making these things public or not. Some things maybe I shouldn’t, but I think for me it’s a type of therapy.”

Do you get any kind of satisfaction when the listener comes back and says, ‘I feel exactly the same’?

“Oh yeah, I mean that happens all the time. That’s the whole point in a lot of ways. Obviously the songs are quite personal, but there has to be a way in. So once a person talks to me and says that they not only found a way in, but lived within a song or album for a really long time, that’s fantastic to hear. It’s amazing how personal people are willing to be with how open they are to me. Because I guess my voice has been coupled with a lot of their worst times and it’s helped. So I think it’s often seen as a friend in those times. But I’m really, really pleased when anyone says that something I have done has helped them. You know, you can’t knock that.”

I went through a similar thing with the songs on ‘Painting Of A Panic Attack’, then they took on a whole new meaning for me by the end of that tour when you played the Roundhouse. I found a cathartic joy in them.

“Absolutely. I mean by the time I’m playing them I don’t need them any more either. But there’s definitely people in the audience that do. There’s people in the audience that still need [2008 album] ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ – it’s just weird. I don’t question anyone’s interpretation or how they use the song. It is not mine. It doesn’t belong to me after it’s out.”

Are there any other artists that you have that kind of relationship with?

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“Yeah, honestly, strangely, it’s probably like, Max Richter and a lot of that kind of that genre – that’s where I go. I’m not really interested in hearing someone sing, or tell me about their particular troubles, and that’s what works for me. Not all the time though – I get it with The National on some songs. All these things, they create spaces for me to go and sort of hide. Any song that feels like a hiding place I like. And you know, that kind of delicate, dark classical sound that we’ve heard a lot of in recent years is often where I go.”

Yeah, that Max Richter ‘Sleep’ album really did help me sleep quite well.

“Yeah, well this is gonna sound like a fucking dad joke, but I’ve actually only listened to the first three songs ever, because I fall asleep. ‘Memory House’ is one of my favourite albums of all time. I fucking love it. It’s very simple actually. It doesn’t really ask a lot of you, but it’s got enough information there that it pulls you into a sort of trance-like state. I find it quite trance-y a lot of what he does, because it’s like these repeating and overlapping phrases, that just allow my brain to switch off for some reason. I can’t really switch off to a ‘song’ song.”

What kind of state would you say we’re in as a society, when it comes to having less inhibitions about discussing mental health?

“I think that it is less applicable probably to someone in my position who has built a career out of expressing myself freely. That makes it a lot easier. I still find it very difficult in a personal situation. You don’t always communicate with the person who you should actually be talking to, and I think it goes deep – especially for men. Depending on how they were bought up, how their dad was, what he thinks about all that. That’s formative stuff and it can be really hard to break out of that.”

People need to realise that vulnerability is not a weakness.

“Exactly. I hate the idea that opening up is in any way emasculating. Even if it fucking is, who cares? It’s good to lay yourself a bit bare, and you’ll feel a bit better for it. But don’t think we’re all the way there yet. Not enough is moving forward for us up to this point. And that’s one of those things that you’d expect to be progressing a lot faster. But there’s sometimes regression in these things, and I don’t really understand that. It’s hard when men should be at their most open but are clamming up again or taking objection to the way that they see the gender discussions going.

“Now is the time for men to be as gentle and open and emotionally fluent as they can be, I suppose. I think this is the thing that happens to a lot of people who are guys being influenced by Frightened Rabbit. By ‘influenced’, I mean driven to opening up. It’s put in a certain way that they can associate without feeling like somehow they’re being weak. You know, there’s definitely admittance in these songs, but there’s not always weakness. Even if there is, there’s a certain sense of self that they can associate with. It’s important to have a place to put your thoughts that you can’t quite express yourself. So I’m all for making that kind of music, not just for men, for anyone who wants to find a way to, you know, let go.”

As well as giving NME an update on Frightened Rabbit’s next album ahead of their 10th anniversary tour for ‘Midnight Organ Fight‘, Hutchison is also preparing to hit the road and release debut album ‘Dance Music’ with side-project Mastersystem – formed with members of Editors and Minor Victories.

The band’s upcoming tour dates are below. Tickets are on sale here.

MARCH 15: Ritz – Manchester, UK 16: Forum – London, UK 17: Academy – Glasgow, UK

12/03/2018 17:06:28
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