Frightened Rabbit: The Midnight Organ Fight 10th Anniversary Tour

Collective Concerts Presents

Frightened Rabbit: The Midnight Organ Fight 10th Anniversary Tour


Mon, February 19, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm

Mod Club Theatre

Toronto, Ontario


Sold Out

This event is 19 and over



Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit
Ever since Scott Hutchison started releasing music as Frightened Rabbit more than a decade ago, his emotionally honest and incisively worded lyrics have been among the project’s most beloved qualities. Over the course of five albums, including their new Painting of a Panic Attack, Frightened Rabbit’s frontman has made poetry of his misery, and still somehow managed to make it sound anthemic—like a triumphant rallying cry rather than a downer. In all of those respects, Painting of a Panic Attack – produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner – is the band’s most accomplished collection yet. “Great songwriters touch a nerve, and I think Scott really touches a nerve with these songs,” says Dessner. “To me, lyrically, this album is a step above anything he’s written before.”

Beginning with the 2006 debut album Sing The Greys, Frightened Rabbit have become one of the U.K.’s most beloved exports. Though originally self-released, Sing The Greys earned the band a deal with indie label Fat Cat Records, who re-released the album and the two that followed: 2008’s Midnight Organ Fight and 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Their last album, 2013’s Pedestrian Verse, marked their Canvasback / Atlantic Records debut, as well as their most critically and commercially successful albums to date. In the UK, that LP was dubbed “a triumph” by The Quietus, while The Guardian described it as “a collection of stirring, instant anthems.” Equal praise came from wide swath of U.S. outlets, including Rolling Stone, Time magazine, and Pitchfork, who praised Hutchison’s “lucid assessments of social and emotional turmoil.” The album also helped Frightened Rabbit achieve new commercial milestones, bringing a Top 10 debut in the U.K..

“I think a lot of this new record is informed by reaching a conclusion of sorts with Pedestrian Verse—closing a door on a sound that we came the closest to achieving with that album,” says Hutchison. After taking some time off from Frightened Rabbit to record and tour in support of the 2014 solo album he released as Owl John, the singer returned to his band with the goal of continuing to explore new approaches to songwriting. One important aspect of that evolution has been a shift to a more collaborative process, with all five band members contributing as songwriters.

Painting of a Panic Attack began in the summer of 2014, when the band – Hutchison, his brother/drummer Grant Hutchison, bassist Billy Kennedy, guitarist/keyboardist Andy Monaghan, and multi-instrumentalist Simon Liddell (who worked with Hutchison and Monaghan on Owl John and joined Frightened Rabbit after Gordon Skene’s amicable departure) – convened in Wales to begin demoing ideas. “We started as though we were making an instrumental album,” Hutchison explains. They wrote and tracked approximately a song a day during the course of a couple weeks and ended up with a dozen ideas that Hutchison took back with him to his new home in Los Angeles, where he would tackle the lyrics.

The singer had relocated there from Glasgow earlier that same year, and, although initially optimistic about the move, he was surprised to quickly discover that he felt profoundly out-of-step in LA. “I don’t usually get homesick,” he says, “but I’d never gone so far from home for such a long period of time before.” Being disconnected by friends, family, and especially his bandmates was a stark contrast to his life while making Pedestrian Verse, where the band moved in together, forging a camaraderie and connection that was, in Hutchison’s own words, “gang-like.”

As he worked his way through the Wales demos, Hutchison says, “I was circling what could be a central idea for this record—this sense of not really being sure why I was in LA. But I was still avoiding admitting that that was how I felt.” He sent a few tracks to his brother Grant for some feedback. “Grant was like, ‘Are you really saying what you think here?,’” Hutchison recalls. “Initially I was pissed, but as I thought about it more I realized that he was right. That, out of the desire for this album to be different, I was avoiding writing about the stuff that actually matters to me and the things that were going on with me at the time. I was fictionalizing a bit too much. And after that conversation, a lot of things came into focus.”

The first thing he wrote after that – the anthemic “I Wish I Was Sober” – is sure to become one of Painting of a Panic Attack’s signature songs. “It’s a lonely song,” says Hutchison. “There’s a lot of that on this record, because I was really lonely in LA. And I think that’s what ‘I Wish I Was Sober’ came to represent: that desperate point where you’re like, ‘I have had too much and I don’t have anyone to lean on.’”

Of first single “Get Out” – a tune about a lover you’ll never get over—Hutchison says: “‘Get Out’ is about that person to whom you are completely addicted. They are a drug, and the one that you don’t feel like quitting. They live in your blood and will not leave. I’ve always found it compelling to write about the physical nature of love and loss, rather than the mental aspect. ‘Get Out’ continues that exploration and takes it to a somewhat obsessive level.”

As Hutchison continued to work on the new songs, he reached out to Dessner to discuss collaborating – maybe writing a couple songs together. The two musicians originally met in 2013, when Frightened Rabbit opened for The National on a month-long tour. But Dessner was also a longtime fan of the band, and quickly became the obvious choice to produce Painting of a Panic Attack. “Before this,” Hutchison notes, “we’d never actually worked with a producer who had such a distinct awareness of our catalog and where we’d been as a band. And Aaron was very mindful of that—what we had done in the past and where we needed to go with this album to take us creatively forward.”

Frightened Rabbit arrived at Dessner’s Ditmas Park, Brooklyn studio last August with thirty contenders for Painting of a Panic Attack, and whittled down from there over the course of the following month. As they considered which direction the album should take, Hutchison says it became clear that the best tracks were the ones with the most emotional immediacy. “‘I Wish I Was Sober’ is not the first song I’ve written about being drunk, and ‘Break’ is not the first song I’ve written about being a fuck-up and wishing I wasn’t, but it turns out there are many ways of expressing that,” says Hutchison. “I think people who are fans of our band come to us for a sense of belonging. I know that’s not unique to us, but I really do believe that our music can come to a person at a pivotal point in their life and that we can become this place to consider where you are in the world.”
“The average Canadian carries around with them in their head a vision of spaciousness.” So theorized Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, describing a so-called ‘Canadian sound.’For Schafer and many others, it was a sound defined by space, by the land and our distance from and proximity to it. For Harry Freedman, it was “gaunt” and “lonely.” Elaine Keillor called it “immense, empty, mysterious, harsh, indifferent, producing a response of awe mingled with terror and an intense sense of spiritual loneliness.”On Wintersleep’s seventh full-length record, In the Land Of, this geography is both real and imagined. It is understood that our surroundings are not, in fact, essential or concrete elements; they’re constructed in relation to us, the inhabitants. Our identities, too, are constructed in relation to the land. The land, both physical and figurative, changes, and so do we. Familiar land. Foreign land. Inhospitable land. Unceded land. Stolen land. Dead land.This might be why In the Land Ofdoesn’t inhabit one terrain, but many. It might also be why none of these terrains feel comfortable. “I don’t really feel 100% at home anywhere,” says vocalist and guitarist Paul Murphy. “Over time, that’s something that weighs a lot on me, not feeling really connected to my environment.”Like all Wintersleep records, In the Land Ofencourages thought and introspection. The new record’s title is an incomplete thought, a blank that is filled in across the record with different places, words, and sounds. “A lot of the songs touch on this idea of being a stranger or feeling foreign in all the different landscapes in which the songs took place lyrically,” explains Murphy. “It all relates back to the land,” adds guitarist Tim D’Eon.The record follows 2016’s The Great Detachment, which saw lead single “Amerika” spend 11 consecutive weeks atop Canada’s rock radio charts. In the Land Ofwas recorded between Bath, Ontario’s Bathouse Recording Studio and Toronto’s Revolution Recording, with Scottish producer and longtime collaborator Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian) back at the helm. The record’s cover features an image captured by photographer Richard Carey. It’s an underwater shot of garbage anddebris floating just below the surface, with errant strands of lime-green seaweed stretching into the frame. Yet another fragment of ‘land:’ “It’s still a product of land-dwellers,” says drummer Loel Campbell of the image. “It’s a reference to our currentfailures as a planet, as a society.”These themes are pressed across the record’s 10 tracks, beginning with the somber, misty waltz of “Surrender.” Tim D’Eon’s guitar, pushing through dark, rippling triplets that patiently ascend and descend, heralds a record that is in no rush: it is purposeful and spacious. Murphy’s voice enters the fray: “36 years young/Halfway to my tomb,” he intones. Steadily and surely, Campbell’s drums creep in with gentle snare and kick, along with Chris Bell’s bass. These elements coalesce, quiet at first before exploding in a magnificent, cinematic crescendo as Murphy howls, “I surrender to you!”Murphy explains that it’s a love song, wrapped up in the relinquishing of control over one’s feelings. It introduces a strain of anti-heroism and fatalism that is present through the record, one that is on some level wrought with existential worry. Campbell explains it as “the struggle that lots of people go through: of meaning, purpose. Are you happy? Are you doing the right things for yourself?”The second track, “Forest Fire,” is similar in its approach to love: Murphy describes a powerful natural phenomenon, all-consuming. “You were a forest fire burning effervescent through the night,” he sings over driving, Boxer-era National pianochording. The song finds a subject at the
mercy of his surroundings. It’s a repositioning of humankind’s relationship with land—so often dictated by a capitalistic need for control and power—wherein we are not the controllers, but the controlled. “Not having control of something is not necessarily a bad feeling,” emphasizes Murphy. “It’s kind of liberating.”Then arrives “Beneficiary,” a throbbing disco-noir romp that details the modern relationship between whiteness and genocide of Indigenous peoples. “Drive to work all day, try to sleep at night/Beneficiary of a genocide,” Murphy sings. The lyrics borrow from Australian writer Peter Carey, who in an interview last year asserted, “You wake up in the morning and you are the beneficiary of a genocide.” “As a Canadian, I feel a real connection to that sentiment,” says Murphy. “It really encapsulates the idea of someone historically removed from these atrocities but who nonetheless benefits, and has to come to terms with and find ways to acknowledge and take on a certain responsibility in making it right.” The song, packaged under an ABBA-ish pop veneer that’s been charred and bruised (Campbell set the song to the tempo of “Dancing Queen”), details the continuing dynamic of settler-colonial violence. “I’m a history of violence/I’m a war never ending,” Murphy pines on the verses. It is a critical recentering of popular discussions of Indigenous issues, which typically focus on past evils. Here, these violences are located in the present, still unspooling—and the song reminds us that as settlers on unceded land acquired through genocide, we all share responsibility for this legacy. “You’ve not literally done something, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not benefitting from a wrong,” explains Murphy.The record’s multitudes, like the taut, punkish velocity of “Lighthouse” or the darkened indie pop hum of “Waves,” play counterbalance to the folksy, rollicking Doomsday-cheer of “Never Let You Go” and stomping, rosy guitar rocker “Into The Shape Of Your Heart.” “Terror,” with soaring, organ-backed chorus theatrics, was inspired by a British artist’s rendering of regions that were targeted by drone strikes—a maddening statement on imperialist violence and its attendant disregard for foreign land and lives.The record closes on “Free Pour,” an almost-scrapped, melancholy but breezy journey through a birthday on “the shy side of 40.” “After a certain year, you don’t get birthdays anymore,” Murphy chuckles. “The joy gets taken away from them. I relate to that.” The lyrics were penned around Murphy’s 37th birthday, and detail “going out to celebrate your birthday by yourself, and thinking about the most miserable scenario in which that can happen.” He describes the song as “taking the piss out of myself,” but for all its comedic trappings (“Baby, I’m on the shy side of 40/Still writing riffs like nobody’s business except in my case it most certainly is/I’m a professional riff writer”), it still bears a profound truth. For Murphy, that’s “finding something liberating about passing these milestones; finding something that’s liberating about letting it all fall away.”It’s the direct result of feeling like a stranger somewhere, of feeling alienation so intense it must be dissolved before it constricts. In the Land Ofis about that alienation: from the self, from others, from the world around us. These are all lands we occupy, ones which we must know and explore and surrender ourselves to. Keillor’s “spiritual loneliness” was not, after all, a product purely of the self. It came from how we exist here; it came from the land
Venue Information:
Mod Club Theatre
722 College St. W
Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1C5