Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Interview: Frightened Rabbit & The Twilight Sad [pt 2]


In this, the second part of our Twilight Sad/Frightened Rabbit feature, TLOBF moves on from the ‘C’ word filled spewings of Part 1 to chew the fat with Scott Hutchison and James Graham on why both bands were overlooked at T In the Park, where they think their standing is in the current Scottish Music scene and what the pair have planned for the future.

I noticed that at T In The Park you were both in small tents. What did you make of that?
James Graham:
Yip, we were in the Unsigned Bands tent. I was quite happy to play it but I saw it as a kick in the nuts because we’re not unsigned and there were bands on that bill who weren’t where we are and hadn’t put in as much work as we have.
Scott Hutchison:
You feel like you’ve produced good enough music that you could be treated as a real band and not be lumbered into one of those tents. There’s a lot of promoter politics to get a good slot at T In The Park.
JG:
It worked out well but at the time it felt like ‘for fucks sake’.

So will you be looking for a bigger stage next year?
JG:
I’d be happy never to play it again.
SH:
I preferred Belladrum, it had a much more hospitable atmosphere.
JG:
I don’t like T In The Park at all – it’s pish. Connect was good but the line-up’s shite this year as well. It’s really disappointing that it’s gone down that road.
SH:
It’s not really healthy to see your career in terms of the size of the tent, what’s important is who was there and who has enjoyed themselves.
JG:
After we’d done an interview at T in the Park I saw some band on the NME stage and I said to the guy ‘I never want to be like that’. I’d be quite happy to stay on a smaller stage for the rest of my career.
SH:
It’s quite rare for a band that explodes to ever make a long term success out of their career. I’d rather see it as a job. It’s a particularly fun one but it should be work at the same time and I wouldn’t want to have anything that I hadn’t earned. So although I thought we’d earned a stage bigger than what we got at T In The Park, we actually earned an audience there.

It’s rare to see a critical word said against you and you’re pretty well renowned on both sides of the Atlantic. Did you ever envisage this is where you would be when you started out?
JG:
I think there’s an element of luck, hard work and timing.
SH:
I don’t know how this will read when you print it but I knew when we’d made our second album [The Midnight Organ Fight] that it was really good and I expected it to make us more popular. I think you visualise where you would like to be and I’m happy where we are currently.
JG:
I wanted to be doing this and I wanted people to like the band but I just didn’t know whether the songs were good enough. The fact that people are enjoying what we’re doing is amazing. Some more money would be nice. In fact, any money would be good.

Surely you guys aren’t doing too badly cash-wise?
JG:
I’ve been on and off the dole for the past two year – mostly because I haven’t signed up for the PRS or anything like that.
SH:
Well, that’s your own fault isn’t it?!

So did you guys know each other before ‘the fame’?
SH:
I definitely knew who they were when they were at demo stage because I was playing them to everyone.
JG:
Aye, I would go round to his house and play him our demos and he’d play me his – [laughing] it was quite gay actually.
SH:
Ahh…memories. But – and this is going to sound really bummy - I actually don’t think there’s a band I enjoy listening to and enjoy spending time with as much as them. I don’t know if it’s because it started happening at the same time for us both. I remember when Alex from Fat Cat told them that Frightened Rabbit were playing at the old Stereo [Glasgow venue] and they came down to see us. Afterwards there was this group of drunken lads talking to my girlfriend and I was saying ‘what the fuck are you doing? Who are you?’
JG:
We were like [Swings arms in air and puts on a particularly impressive drunken slur] ‘Alex fae Fat Cat said we’ve got the same spirit’.
SH:
Aye, from then on we just went to each other’s gigs and I don’t think I missed a show until they fucked off to America. I don’t think I’ve heard a Scottish record I’ve liked as much since they released [Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters].
JG:
Cheers. It’s the same for us. This is a bumfest isn’t it? You do know we’re going home together after this gig?
SH:
We’ve already spooned.
JG:
[Cracks up] Aye watching The Bodyguard drinking mouth wash.
SH:
[Almost choking with laughter] Can I get a gammy?

Erm..moving on then. Do you think the spotlight is too heavily focused on the Glasgow scene, almost to the detriment of other areas in Scotland?
SH:
No, I think it’s a good thing. It’s the one place that’s constantly maintained a presence with its music scene. Y’know Dundee came and went with The View and Aberdeen never really happened either. Not too slag Aberdeen off, it’s a nice city and all that.
JG:
I’m a shareholder at Aberdeen football club.
SH:
[Shocked] Are you? Really? And you’re complaining about being poor?
JG:
Oh aye, the champagne’s on me. I’ve also got shares in Euro Disney as well.
SH:
What the fuck? Check out stock market boy. [Mimics James’ accent] ‘Oh I’ve got nae money but I’ve got shares in Aberdeen Football Club and Euro Disney’. You’ve probably got some sitting in Microsoft too.
JG:
[Laughs] I wish!

I’ve interviewed a number of new Scottish bands recently and they’ve cited you guys as the main influences in their sound. It must be quite flattering to have taken the reigns from Franz Ferdinand and stopped the glutton of slanty-fringed guitar bands we had a few years back?
JG:
I really don’t think anyone should look up to us at all. We’ve only released one record and that’s nothing really.
SH:
I mean it’s very flattering and I think it’s a more substantial well to drink from than Franz Ferdinand. I don’t really hear the influence in these newer bands - it must be very subtle - but it’s a nice shift in the way things sound and bands like El Padre and We Were Promised Jetpacks are pushing that forward. I feel like Glasgow has a bit more romance now and [looks lovingly at James] we’re part of that.
JG:
Well there’s a lot more spooning going on. Go to [Nice ‘n’] Sleazy’s one night and you’ll end up going home with someone and spooning.
SH:
[Despairingly] This is going nowhere… move on please. Please.

Have either of you noticed a change in the grassroots of Scottish Music since you set out?
JG:
We didn’t really gig about a lot so I couldn’t tell you. I’m not really sure what it was like to begin with.
SH:
I think it sounds a bit different. There was a lot of electro and twee going on and I think that….[tails off]. Actually I don’t really know what’s going on in Glasgow these days, I’m rarely out.
JG:
I couldn’t tell you what Glasgow was like but I could tell you what the scene is like in Banton [small town outside Glasgow].
SH:
So what’s going on in Banton then?
JG:
Well we’ve got a jukebox in the Swan and our drummer used to be in a band called Stone Whisper. They were amazing.

There was a lot of pressure on Scottish bands to move to London a few years back…
JG:
S-H-I-T-H-O-L-E: Shithole.

…I take it that’s not something you’re going to consider in the future?
JG:
Nah, I’d rather be miserable up here than down there.
SH:
I don’t think it’s the centre of the universe and there’s a lot of…
JG:
Arseholes?
SH:
Aye, but there’s a lot of arseholes everywhere. The difference between the arseholes up here and those down there is that they don’t see anything outside of their big, huge playground. You do put a lot of pressure on yourself when you first play down there but I would urge new bands not to consider London as the end of the yellow brick road.
JG:
I just get really stressed there.
SH:
We were playing that White Heat and I never knew the audience but the moment they walked in they oozed were proper hipness.
JG:
Like Nathan Barley?
SH:
Aye, exactly like that.
JG:
I just end up sitting in the corner trying to avoid eye contact with people when that happens.
SH:
Places like Leeds – that’s my favourite city to play in the world I’d say – have much more atmosphere and the crowd are with you constantly.
JG:
Aye, the first two rows in London are like that [wildly waves arms in air] while the back rows are just looking at you like [sits perfectly still]. Christ, I don’t know how you’re going to write that up.

Aye, I’m starting to wonder. Now you’ve grown in stature, what’s the craziest commercial offer you guys have had.
JG:
Naebody’s really offered us anything yet.
SH:
Well we had Hollyoaks and the one that’s coming up that’s really fucking big [TLOBF has been sworn to secrecy].
JG:
Nobody likes us; they’ve nae offered us anything. Nae tampon adverts or sexual favours. Although our bass player does offer them out.
SH:
All we do is sit about and say ‘Ah my life’s shite, naebody comes on to me. May as well go and write another album’. So going back to the start, that’s where the misery comes from.

What would it take the for you guys to produce a chirpy, up tempo pop song?
SH:
I would say that ours are poppier than theirs. I wouldn’t class them as pop but if you take the words away they’re definitely a bit poppier.
JG:
We definitely won’t be writing one.
SH:
He and I are going to do something together when we get a bit of time. We’ll try and take each other out of what we’ve been doing; removing me from lyric writing process to concentrate on the music, whereas he can concentrate on writing music that’s a bit quieter and a different background for his voice. That could be a pop sensation.

Is this definitely going to take place?
SH:
I’d like it to happen. My mate has a place up in Fife which is always empty so hopefully we can sort something out.
JG:
I’m up for that.
SH:
I’m up for it as well. It’s just a nice holiday for us.

2 comments:

JC said...

Thanks again.

But its stretching a bit to call Banton a small town......

Dave Kerr said...

A rare conversation, great read Billy.