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Frightened Rabbit accentuates the negative 

Everything you need to know about Frightened Rabbit comes from one place, and that place is Scotland. It's home to the indie rock band, and its culture has clearly inspired and informed the work of bandleader Scott Hutchinson.

What that means, of course, is that you'll rarely hear much that's cheery, optimistic or even close to happy from Frightened Rabbit.

"It's not really in my nature," says the Frightened Rabbit frontman. "I embrace that Scottishness in every form. It could be folk. It could be the accent, the humor — everything. I'm very Scottish. That's just how it's going to be.

"There's a lot to be said for having a positive attitude," he adds. "A lot of people in the U.S. have good positive attitudes. But that doesn't come across in Scotland. You won't get away with it. That dark humor, that pessimism, is how we exist."

At the same time, Hutchinson believes the downbeat tone he brings to the words he writes for the band he's fronted for a decade don't translate into a dark and depressing live experience.

"The music can be quite morose, depressed and bitter, but the show can be a happy joyous experience," he says. "It's one of my favorite things about how our music is put together. You couple that kind of dark stuff with very uplifting music. It's quite satisfying when people come up and say, 'I didn't know what I was singing for a long time. It's really dark.'"

Frightened Rabbit began as a Hutchinson solo project in 2003, utilizing the name his mother put on him because he was painfully shy. Brother Grant joined Scott the next year to play drums. Guitarist Billy Kennedy joined up in 2005, and a year later, the Glasgow-based band released its debut record, Sing the Greys.

That record, and Frightened Rabbit's music since then, has been influenced by its Scottish contemporaries — which Hutchinson said was natural enough.

"It's a very small country," he said. "The bands are all really either in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Everyone knows everyone. You can't help but have something of what others do rub off on you — like I know I've been influenced by Belle and Sebastian, and Mogwai. That's good, not bad. We really are such a small country and a close community. Everyone supports each other in getting Scottish music out."

Three more albums and a pair of EPs followed Sing the Greys, with the most recent release Pedestrian Verse dropping late last year. Along the way the band added guitarist/keyboardist Andy Monaghan and guitarist Gordon Skene to the lineup.

Pedestrian Verse, which happens to be the band's major label debut, has a bigger, more enveloping sound than its indie predecessors. It's also the first record that was made as a band album.

"I'm still writing all the lyrics," Hutchinson acknowledges, "but from the inception of the songs, everyone is involved. In the past, I would have sealed myself away, written the songs, arranged everything and brought them in. This time it was a true ongoing collaboration. Everyone feels ownership of the songs rather than just doing their parts. It felt fresh and something the band needed.

"If there was no progress," he adds, "I'd be worried."

scene@csindy.com

  • The Scottish band embraces its not-so-cuddly cultural legacy.

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