From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Lists

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature.


Grant Hutchison: When deciding on what we should all write for these posts, there seemed to be a common theme among everyone’s ideas. That theme was lists. Top-five tour smoothies, best cities for buying thyme and a few more I won’t mention just in case they make it in. I tried and tried to come up with something different. Something a little weird and highly original. All of those ideas were unfortunately total shite, so here is my contribution to our editorial takeover of MAGNET.

My top-five lists
1. Tracklist
The order we choose to put the songs on our records. This can be a very easy, natural process where the list picks itself, or you can get to the point where you’re tearing your hair out, and just think maybe it’s best to put them in alphabetical order just for the fuck of it! There are many things to consider when compiling this list. You want to keep the listeners’ attention for the whole thing. You want to avoid any “dips” in momentum. There’s also the consideration of a vinyl listener and how they might see the record as a two-sided work, and therefore there are two introductions and two conclusions. Our process is always democratic, which can make it even harder when there are eight different lists to choose from. But after many emails back and forth and listening to the album way too many times, we’ve always come up with what we think caters for every listener.

2. The Carnet
This is a rather boring one but unfortunately fairly vital to our touring careers! It is our list of gear for freighting in and out of countries when we are overseas. Obviously, ours is filled mainly with Irn Bru, Freddos and Pringle socks, but there is the odd guitar that goes on there, too. There’s a strange satisfaction in looking it over in Glasgow once it’s been delivered back and counting each piece to reach the same number that’s on the sheet. It is, of course, expected that everything should be delivered back the way it was dropped off, but it’s certainly not a given.

3. My nieces’ list for going on holiday
In between tours in June, my girlfriend and I took my nieces Morven (six) and Ailish (three) away for a weekend in a hotel. Such was their excitement at the prospect of a night away with Uncle Grant they compiled a list of essentials so as not to forget a single thing that could scupper their enjoyment of the experience!! Above is a photo of said list. My favourite entry on this has to be “swooning cosiuoomis,” which roughly translates to “swimming costumes”! Needless to say, nothing was forgotten, and mainly because this list was made we had a wonderful time. Another example of the power of the list!

4. “Alphabet Aerobics” by Blackalicious
This one isn’t strictly a list as a whole, but there are a few in there so I thought it would be appropriate, and it’s an incredible listen, so I don’t really need to justify myself! I first heard this on a mixtape my brother made for me in my teens. We used to record a mixtape for each other every birthday and then managed a couple of CDs, but the art of it all was kind of lost on a CD, so we stopped and moved on to getting DVD boxsets. I instantly fell in love with this song and started trying to memorize the lyrics. I think I made it up to about E or something and gave up. Alphabetical lists are the best kind, but alphabetical lists that are rapped?! Holy shit, they kill!! The EP this is on is actually an absolute cracker with loads of great stuff if you can find it anywhere. I can’t remember the name, but you have Google, right?!

5. The Setlist
I saved the most important one for the end. The setlist. This is something that can be incredibly difficult to get right, and much like the tracklisting on an album, there are many things to consider when compiling one. You have to grab people’s attention right at the start but keep them there until the end. You need to show a decent representation of your work meaning you have to cover all albums even if you think some are a bit shit! There’s the balance of slow vs. upbeat tracks, and whether you’ll do an encore or not. You can’t just have one list for a whole campaign, either. There’s the mind melting season of festivals, where our sets range from 30 minutes up to 80, where certain songs are better received in certain places. We now have five records, so we’ve had to drop a few that might surprise some audiences, but we always promise to play them next time so people come back again. (We will, I promise!) This is a list I see daily and live by when on tour. If it’s not visible by my side when I go on, I would be fucked. And if we didn’t have it at all, the show would be a shambles.

Lists are good. Lists are great. Keep on listing, folks!