Scotland Week: Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison (aka Owl John) | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Scotland Week: Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison (aka Owl John)

"Many other countries of Scotland's size are independent and I feel that our cultural identity is in fact stronger then many of those places."

Sep 02, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

We have a special theme on Under the Radar’s website this week which we’re simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we will be posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. For some of the Scotland Week Q&As we emailed out the same set of Scottish related questions to various different musicians from the country.

For this interview we talk to Scott Hutchison. He is best known as the frontman for Glasgow-based four-piece Frightened Rabbit. The band formed in 2003 and has released four full-length albums, the most recent being 2013’s Pedestrian Verse. Hutchison also has a solo project under the name Owl John and just released his self-titled debut album as Owl John via Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records, also home to Frightened Rabbit. Owl John was partly recorded on the Isle of Mull, an island off the west coast of Scotland, and partly on the west coast of America.

Read on as Hutchison discusses his favorite Scottish albums, bands, and films, as well as his thoughts on the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which in a few weeks the people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country.

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

Scott Hutchison: I am in support of an independent Scotland, yes. I think that we have the basis for an economically strong and prosperous future, should we be allowed to govern ourselves more fully. Many other countries of Scotland’s size are independent and I feel that our cultural identity is in fact stronger then many of those places. We should be able to make decisions based on the needs of the Scottish population, not those of the United Kingdom.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I think it can only serve to propel the arts further. For such a small country, Scotland has an incredible output in visual art, theatre, and music. I feel that this output can be encouraged and thrive even more if we are in control of all our resources.

What is your favorite album by another Scottish artist and why?

I’ve always loved The Great Eastern by The Delgados. It came to me at a really pivotal time. Having moved to Glasgow to go to college, I was just starting to write my own music and all of these new external influences surrounded me. This album opened up that chapter fully, displaying all of the drama, romance, and sadness that great albums should have.

Which Scottish musician/band most inspired you to start playing music?

I suppose I answered that in the previous question, but it’s important to note that there was not just one Scottish band that made me want to write. At this time I also found bands such as Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, and The Zephyrs who all influenced me a great deal.

Who is the most underrated or underappreciated Scottish musician or band?

The Phantom Band. Their new album Strange Friend is their best one yet and it still astounds me that they aren’t appreciated by more people. It’s complex pop music, it’s clever without ever being overbearingly so. Another big influence on my own music.

Who is your favorite new Scottish band or solo artist?

They’re not quite new but I have thoroughly enjoyed the latest album by PAWS. If you haven’t heard Youth Culture Forever please seek it out. One of my favorites of this year.

What is your favorite film that takes place in Scotland?

I love My Name Is Joe. Ken Loach is an incredible director who captures the violence, honesty and hope of Scottish people beautifully in this story of a recovering alcoholic. It features an amazing performance by Peter Mullan, another of my favorite Scottish filmmakers.

Who is your favorite Scottish author and what’s your favorite book by them?

He’s not an author as such, but the debut collection by Scottish poet Michael Pedersen is a brilliant piece of work. Play With Me is a selection of bright and, errr, playful poetry but it’s really best to hear Michael read his work in person if you can. A great performer.

Can you explain the Scottish aesthetic and how the Scottish music scene is different from others around the world?

I think it’s a very unified scene, if I may steal a wee line from The Hold Steady. I think Scotland and its people have a sense of being the underdog, so there’s an immense sense of pride when something from Scotland makes an impact across the globe, whether that be a band, an artist, or an athlete. We support our own.

What do you most love about Scotland and being Scottish and what do you most hate about Scotland and being Scottish?

I love the Scottish temperament. It’s unlike anywhere else, there’s a sense of humor attached to failure and despair that I find completely heartwarming. It’s also one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. I don’t hate anything about my country, but some days the weather makes it hard to smile.


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