Scott Hutchison was a man who understood the fragility of human existence, as the lead singer of Scottish indie band, Frightened Rabbit as well as in his solo project Owl John and his second band, Mastersystem, he delved into the humour, the kindness, the heartache and the warmth that comes with being alive. He passed away, aged 36.
Frightened Rabbit began as a solo project in 2003, named as such because Hutchison was such a shy child his mother referred to him as a frightened rabbit. Soon after, his brother Grant joined him, playing drums and the band released their first album, Sing the Greys in 2006.
Hutchison’s immense talent for writing was fully realised on 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight, which met with much critical acclaim and gained the band a worldwide fan base. The Midnight Organ Fight is filled with tender, humorous and emotive songs about dealing with the pain of a break up. The range of styles on the album from anthems to pleas to lost love and finding yourself again, showcased a band emerging into their prime with Hutchison laying his heart bare. The sting of an ex-lover moving on is confronted with a bitter humour on Good Arms versus Bad Arms, with the line, ‘don’t touch him he might have diseases’ but ‘good arms versus bad arms will win hands down’.
The album proved so popular that a live acoustic version was released in 2009, aptly titled Quietly Now! Liver! Lung! FR!, the showcased the band’s folk roots, with Hutchison’s warmth and kindness shining through, as he joked with band mates, and stormed through songs like Old, Old Fashioned, prompting a sing along with the audience, a testament to their live shows.
The Winter of Mixed Drinks followed in 2010, and saw Frightened Rabbit gain further prominence after Swim until You Can’t See Land was featured in a prime time advertisement. The beauty of Hutchison’s lyrics were again centre stage amongst a haze of guitar and charging drums, most notably on Living in Colour, Hutchison seemed to have found hope, singing ‘And as the night started swallowing. You put the blood to my blue lips Forced the life through still veins. Filled my heart with red again.’
2013 saw the release of Pedestrian Verse, and Hutchison’s skill at finding humour in the mundane came to the fore in in Acts of Man, ‘I am the amateur pornographer, unpleasant publisher by half’. He was nothing if not adept in revealing the human condition, in all its (sometimes) uncomfortable glory. ‘I’m here, I’m here, not heroic but I try’ he confesses.
Frightened Rabbit’s latest release, 2016’s Painting of A Panic Attack, featured duets with the likes of rising star, Juilen Baker. The album contains a mix of stirring anthems and quieter moments of reflection. On this album, if anywhere, Frightened Rabbit sound like a band who have honed their craft and Hutchison channelled everything into his art.
Scott Hutchison emoted talent, kindness, empathy and a true concern for the state of the human condition throughout his career. As he once stated, ‘While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth.’ He certainly achieved that.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, please know that help and support is available and people will listen. The Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/) and Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/)