by Ian Clement.
Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit is a busy man. Not only have the band been touring their last album (Pedestrian Verse) but he’s also had time to move to L.A. and start a brand new project called Owl John and Scott gave up some of his valuable time to answer some of our questions for us about the new project.
What inspired you to start this new project? Is it a musical itch that you wanted to scratch or is it the sort of music you want to make in the future?
It was a bit of both really. Frightened Rabbit had been working fairly solidly for about 18 months and it was time do something else. I think the main purpose of this album was to refresh the palate somewhat and get excited about working with the band again. Making this album will definitely influence the direction of Frightened Rabbit, just as every new experience does.
The new material sounds quite raw and stripped back compared to your Frightened Rabbit material. Was that a conscious decision or was it something that came about during the writing process?
The process determined that level of restraint to an extent, though we were conscious that we didn’t want it to be an overblown affair. Most of the album was written and recorded within two weeks, as we tried to stick to the “one song per day” rule. What we had at the end of each day was pretty much what you hear on the album (minus the vocals) and I think that’s where the raw, spontaneous feel of the songs comes from.
What can we expect in terms of lyrics? Is there a central theme or concept running throughout the record?
Shortly after finishing the music on the Isle of Mull, I moved to Los Angeles. It was there that I wrote and recorded the vocals, so there’s a lot of content regarding my initial few weeks there. It talks about alienation, uncertainty, anxiety and also a bit of good ol’ love.
Why did you choose the name “Owl John” instead of just calling it a “Scott Hutchison” album?
Apart from the fact that I reckon I’ve got a crap name for an album, the project became a very collaborative effort between myself, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell. I wouldn’t have felt right putting my name on it as it would have meant that their work went largely unacknowledged. Perhaps I am the ‘face’ of Owl John, but it I don’t have sole ownership.
You recently did a solo USA tour with Withered Hand. How did the new material go down Stateside?
It went well. I didn’t play a large proportion of Owl John material, as I always think it’s a little indulgent to make people stand through a raft of songs that they haven’t heard yet. But what I did play was well received, I think.
What can we expect from your live shows? Is it going to be a few guys getting sweaty on stage or do you have something grander planned?
Not grander at all! The shows will simply be me and a guitar, thrashing it out together. If there is ever a desire on our part to present Owl John with more musicians then we’ll look at that when the time is right. I suppose that depends on whether anyone would care to see that.
Is any of the “Owl John” material going to seep through into the new Frightened Rabbit record or are you deliberately trying to make it something totally separate?
These things always have a cross-pollination about them. Just as elements of Frightened Rabbit can be heard on the Owl John, I’m sure the experience of making the “solo” album will affect my work with the band. But the two should be seen as separate things and I’m very pleased to be back to the day job with FR now.
Finally, any advice for upcoming bands and musicians?
Never stop. Sometimes persistence is the only thing that will get your music heard and it’s worth doing a bit of elbowing to get your head above the crowd. Be unique and be honest. Most of all, be nice. It goes a long way.