Since the tragic news of Scott Hutchison’s death was confirmed on Friday, there has been an incredible outpouring of emotional tributes from friends and fans, journalists and fellow artists alike. A common thread running through these messages has been how the pain and the passion of Frightened Rabbit lyrics have helped countless people through dark times, verbalising the innermost thoughts and fears that many of us are too afraid even to confront, let alone discuss in a public forum. It was exactly Scott’s openness about his own struggles, his refusal to put an “everything’s-alright-sheen” on the darkest corners of human existence, that have ironically had that very effect; by acknowledging that it’s all fucked anyway, we can somehow get by. It is alright, even though – or perhaps because – it’s not.
Scott had an uncanny ability to recognise the essence of the human condition and articulate it with honesty and humility, whether the topic was sex or suicide, love or heartbreak. Given the raw candour of Frightened Rabbit’s work, it’s little wonder that his words have spoken to so many people and changed so many lives. My own experiences and connections with Frightened Rabbit’s back catalogue have been undoubtedly less visceral than some, but no less personal than any. The man had a unique knack of pinpointing exactly what it was that gnawed away at your gut in the wee hours of the morning and drag it kicking and squealing into the bright light of day, so that regardless of individual circumstance, his lyrics felt deeply personal to all. It’s a testament not only to his incredible talent as a musician, but also to his bottomless empathy and truly compassionate nature as a person.
This last point was summed up for me in the only time I came within hugging distance of the man. It was at (or perhaps more accurately outside) a Frightened Rabbit gig around seven or eight years ago; I don’t remember the exact date but the temperature had dropped to the nasty side of zero so it must have been winter. I’d learned about the concert last minute and as a result, had missed out on the online allocation – but not to worry, the venue made it known they’d kept back half the tickets to be sold at the door, precisely for head-in-the-cloud types like me. I nipped down to the club straight away and bagged a fairly advanced spot in the queue, confident I’d make it inside. Unfortunately, the queue had other ideas; after an hour of waiting, it hadn’t budged an inch. Another half hour slipped by – I say slipped, but it was sub-zero out there so the time crawled on its belly rather than skipped on its merry way past – and still nothing.
Eventually, after nigh on two hours in the freezing cold, it transpired that the venue had reneged on its promise of keeping back some tickets for the door, opting to cash in and sell the whole shebang online. All well and good, but someone could have alerted us poor wallopers waiting in the depths of Narnia this whole time! Needless to say, when Scott found out, he was livid. He came out onto the street to apologise profusely and thank us for our devotion to the Rabbit, lamenting the skulduggery of the venue in question. As a consolation prize, he offered to play us a private set of three songs right there on the street – and so he did, even though by the final track his fingers were too frostbitten to play the chords properly. Not content with this show of goodwill, he then wangled our way into the upstairs speakeasy of the venue, so we could watch a livefeed of the gig from the club below. So if we’re being technical, I didn’t actually get in to see the Rabbit that night – but it’s certainly the closest connection I’ve ever had to an artist and without a doubt one of the best gigging experiences of my life.
It’s a small anecdote that can never hope to paint a full picture of the man, and those who knew him better have already said far more salient things about Scott than I ever could. But it’s a brief snapshot into the psyche of a Rockstar who’d never view himself as one and a man whose huge, hurting heart did so much to heal those around him. His death is a tragic loss to the music industry and to the human race in general. Thanks Scott, for the honesty, the companionship, the curative, cathartic effect of your beautiful heart and mind. Thanks.