“I recorded the demos for the last record in a wee studio in Glasgow called The Diving Bell. It’s near the university in the West End of the city. The downstairs part of the studio doesn’t have any windows, which is great because you can get lost in the process and disregard time altogether. It smells a bit damp but it’s cosy if you put the little heater on for an hour or two. One day some kids threw face cream and curry sauce at the door whilst I was inside. I opened the door and got the mixture all over my hands. After that all I could smell was curry and coconut.
For those sessions I had a Yamaha keyboard that my brother got for his 8th birthday or something; my Telecaster, a hotrod deluxe amp, my Taylor acoustic, a Fender precision bass through a bassman head and a pretty beat-up drum kit which I couldn’t really play. I record into a Tascam 2488 digital 24-track. It burns the CD for you right after you record, which is handy. I monitor only in headphones, as I’m more interested in getting the arrangement right than achieving any precise monitor mixes. I also use a wee orange plectrum to strum.
It’s important to have good ambient lighting. It’s nice to feel like I’m locked away from the world and concocting secret things in the den. It’s also important that I have everything pretty much set up all the time so that I can jump from instrument to instrument at any moment. In terms of inspiration, I need to figure out when it’s going to be empty first, as it’s a working studio run by a friend of mine. Last time I used it, Marcus was on holiday in France, so I snuck in for a week to do some work. He’s very accommodating though and usually says “aye” if I ask to use the space.
I tend to work on my own to begin with. I don’t work that well with others, as I have a fairly strong idea of where I want to go with things. It’s nice to get others involved later, to add the smaller details and make suggestions for change. I never write with anyone around. I don’t even like doing it when someone is in the next room! The starting part is the key. Once you get going, the floodgates often open and you have a bunch of material pouring out all at once. I write in blocks, so it’s quite common for me to go a few months without writing. It’s not something I do every day, and I like to be able to look back on events and sum them up, rather than writing in a diary format.
I use Amps, keyboards, guitars, anything with strings on it. I used to record all my piano parts at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, as they have piano rooms which you can hire for an hour or two there. The thing I like about the piano is that I can’t really play it, so it’s all quite instinctive and untutored. It makes the results a bit less rigid.
What I like most about this space is that it has a working toilet and a shop round the corner for Twixes.”
Musical Rooms was talking to Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit are a Scottish indie rock band consisting of Scott Hutchison (vocals, guitar), Grant Hutchison (drums, vocals), Billy Kennedy (guitar, keyboards, bass) and Andy Monaghan (keyboards, guitar, bass). The band has so far released two studio albums, with their second, The Midnight Organ Fight, receiving widespread critical acclaim. They play The Academy in Dublin on Wednesday April 1st. Tickets cost €13.50 from Ticketmaster. For more details, visit www.myspace.com/frightenedrabbit or www.frightenedrabbit.com/.