GUY RAZ, host:
Back in February, NPR music producer Stephen Thompson played this song for us on the program. It's by the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, and it's called "Swim Until You Can't See Land."
(Soundbite of song, "Swim Until You Can't See Land")
FRIGHTENED RABBIT (Music Group): (Singing) I salute at the threshold of the North Sea of my mind. And I nod to the boredom that drove me here to face the tide and swim.
RAZ: Needless to say, we were intrigued by this song, so we contacted the band to find out what else is on a new record. It's called "The Winter of Mixed Drinks." And the founding member and front man for Frightened Rabbit, Scott Hutchison. He is with me from our studios in London.
Scott Hutchison, welcome to the program.
Mr. SCOTT HUTCHISON (Founding Member, Frightened Rabbit): Hi there.
RAZ: Ever since I heard this song, I wanted to ask you about it. It's about fighting the tide to get away from the shore. And it's just very delicate and beautiful song but it's also quite dark. Can you tell me the story behind it?
Mr. HUTCHISON: It's funny, yeah. I was just - I only just recently remembered exactly where the original inspiration came from. It was from a kind of average movie called "The Wackness" in which Ben Kingsley stars. And he at one point, he does just that, he swims out and sees how far he can get. I think he's going to try to end his life and he eventually comes back and life seems a bit different after he's done that.
And then, you know, once I started writing the album, I was based in a small coastal village in Scotland called Creole(ph), and the whole thing just kind of with the solitude that I was feeling there. And also maybe at that point in my life, mentally, things were a little crumbly for me as well.
RAZ: I mean, you have a line on there where you say she is there on the shoreline throwing stones at my back.
(Soundbite of song, "Swim Until You Can't See Land")
Mr. HUTCHISON: (Singing) She's there on the shoreline throwing stones at my back...
Yeah, right. I mean, that was perhaps a direct relation back to the previous record that we did called "Midnight Organ Fight," in which, you know, it charts the breakdown of a relationship in my life. And, you know, it just acknowledges it. And then the whole record here is perhaps about moving on to another stage in life.
RAZ: The very first track on this record is called "Things," and I want to hear some of that for a moment.
(Soundbite of song, "Things")
Mr. HUTCHISON: (Singing) I didn't need these things. I didn't need them, oh, pointless artifacts from a mediocre past. So I shed my clothes, shed my flesh down to the bone and burned the rest. I didn't need these things. I didn't need them, oh, took them all to bits. Turned 'em outside in and I left them on the floor and ran for dear life through the door, oh...
RAZ: I read a review that described this song as a slow burn. You sing: I didn't need these thing, pointless artifacts from a mediocre past. It's a pretty intense opening to your record, and it's almost like you're starting from scratch. You know, you're sort of announcing it to your listeners. Is that how you wanted to frame the record?
Mr. HUTCHISON: Yeah, absolutely. the thing I love about that song is how we -it casts the rest of the record into a certain light. It was a real kind setting out the plan for the rest of the album and the rest of the songs maybe don't sound the same after you've heard that one first. So, it was a really purposeful move to do that on the front of the record.
RAZ: You guys recently toured with the American band Modest Mouse, which of course results in the double billing of Modest Mouse and Frightened Rabbit, which is a concert poster that I need to get my hands on. But can you tell me about the name of the band, Frightened Rabbit?
Mr. HUTCHISON: The name was - came about from a nickname that my parents gave me when I was younger. I was extremely socially awkward as a child and to the point of basically sitting in a corner all kids' social occasions. I didn't really want to talk to anyone, so I'd have this frankly terrified look on my face, I think. And it was it came from that moment that they used to call me frightened rabbit because of that wide-eyed glare that I'd be giving the room must, you know, just wanted to get out of there.
RAZ: When did that change?
Mr. HUTCHISON: Part of it stays with me today. But I've been forced into change. You know, to live my life, you have to get on. And especially now I've learned how to deal with that kind of situation. But even now, you know, throw me into a party full of strangers and I'll sink for sure. I don't deal with it well.
RAZ: Back to being a frightened rabbit.
Mr. HUTCHISON: Yes, exactly.
RAZ: I'm speaking with Scott Hutchison. He's the lead singer of the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit. Their new record is called "The Winter of Mixed Drinks."
Scott Hutchison, one of the things people have written about Frightened Rabbit in the past is your sense of melancholy. But you seem to be kind of fighting it on this record. And you even have a song called "Not Miserable."
(Soundbite of song, "Not Miserable")
Mr. HUTCHISON: (Singing) I am not put upon. I am free from disease. No grays, no liver spots. Most of the misery's gone. Gone, gone to the bone...
RAZ: Okay. This song is called "Not Miserable," and some of the lyrics include these lines: I'm free from disease, no grays, no liver spots, most of the misery's gone. I dont know if I'm entirely convinced that the voice in this song is not miserable, as the title suggests. But I was wondering, I mean, what sort of changed for you or for the band since your last record, which was a lot darker than this one?
Mr. HUTCHISON: Well, I became more positive in my mind. You know, personal relationships changed; life became better. Just the simple stuff. You know, I settled into a home. Previous to this, I was essentially - when I came off tour I was basically homeless, you know, sleeping on people's couches and at my brother's flat and stuff. And it was just the more settled I became the less melancholy the stressed thing around my head. Things were good.
And it was a challenge to me. I didn't want miserableness to become our thing. It was a challenge to me to write a song about being positive, about being happy. And, you know, maybe everything that I write is lined with a slight dark edge and I can't help that. But, yeah, there are more moments of joy in this album for sure.
RAZ: I mean, I guess if this song a sort of an acknowledgement that you don't really need to be elated, but being not miserable, it's good enough.
Mr. HUTCHISON: It's good enough. It's actually perfect.
RAZ: That's Scott Hutchison. He's the front man for the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit. Their new album is called "The Winter of Mixed Drinks." You can hear a few tracks from it at our Web site, nprmusic.org.
Scott, thanks so much, and good luck.
Mr. HUTCHISON: Thank you.