From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Ian Svenonius’ “What Is A Group?”

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.

Liddell: We are all lucky to be alive at the same time as Ian Svenonius. He’s been kicking around since Nation Of Ulysses in the late ’80s, through the Make-Up, Weird War and, currently, Chain And The Gang. These are all deserving of your attention, as is his recent short film, What Is A Group?: a retro sci-fi documentary on the mechanisms within contemporary rock ‘n’ roll and its positioning in a planet driven by capitalism, seen through the eyes of two visiting members of a superior alien race.

“Dysfunction is seductive, attractive, glamorous. This rock ‘n’ roll music is based on that very principle.”

An interesting cast here, the “group” features the awesome Mary Timony (check out Ex Hex, who made one of my favourite records two years ago), along with members of Chain And The Gang, the Priests and incredibly, Kid Congo Powers, who is hilarious and trippy as a caricature record producer (“See this button? This is drum viagra!”).

Q. What makes a record successful?
A. Bribery and mass hypnosis.

I met Ian once a few years back, in my previous life as a music promoter. Chain And The Gang was touring the record Music’s Not For Everyone (maybe the best album title ever), and the show stopped by Stereo, Glasgow. He had also just published a collection of essays called The Psychic Soviet. Seek it out, friends; it’ll fit in your back pocket.