January 2009 at CMU which made our third best show that year. Main man Scott Hutchinson was kind enough to answer a few questions, giving us probably one of the most honest interviews we've had. Scott talks about the current economy and how it has affected them, Ryan Adams as one of his major influences and how Pittsburgh needs to bring the 'motherfucking ruckus' Tuesday.
Was The Winter of Mixed Drinks more of conceptual album?
Perhaps, though I think the Midnight Organ Fight has it's own, very clear theme as well. I like songs to be tied together, so that the album has a sense of cohesion and you can feel time passing from track to track. I guess the Winter of Mixed Drinks follows a protagonist on a journey of sorts, but I didn't want it to sound overthought or 'storybookish' in any way.
You have been well rcvd in the ‘indie world’ of North America; how is it in Europe?
We get a rather varied response in Europe... The UK has finally caught up with the States, and we have played some great shows in Holland, Germany and Denmark. But then you can go to Spain and play to 16 people a night, which is a bit tough. But then you just think "fuck it, I'm in Spain, this is great!". Some places, you just need to work a little harder.
Swim Until You Can't See Land by Frightened Rabbit
Have you seen any differences in the past couple of years with the economy being so stagnant? Has there been a difference between attendance/sales in Europe versus the US? How has it affected you?
Well, we've been pretty poor for a few years, and in fact we have seen our financial situation improve over the past year. Attendance may have been slightly affected, because people have to be selective about what shows they see. If you are in town around the same time as a bigger band, they can take that ticket away from you. The whole online booking/processing fee bullshit is also killing sales in the US for everyone. That needs to stop.
How are the shows you play in Europe compared to the ones in the US? Are you getting the same attendance? How does the audience differ in responding to the music?
Everyone usually responds well to the live show - a fan is still a fan, wherever they live. Numbers fluctuate from country to country and state to state, but it tends not to drop below a certain level. We don't worry too much about it. We try to give out the same level of energy every night.
Is there an album or show that made you want to dedicate your life to music?
I think Ryan Adams has played a big part in my decision. I listened to his music a lot when I began writing, especially Gold. His writing is so simple, yet he cuts right through you. I saw him play once and it looked like he was having a ball. I admire his work ethic.
Nothing Like You by Frightened Rabbit
We saw you at Lollapalooza this year. How do you like playing the outdoor day setting compared to the club, evening?
They are very different. It's quite hard to create any sense of intimacy on an outdoor stage in broad daylight. It's a challenge we've been learning to deal with, and those big festival shows can be really rewarding. I still prefer the club shows.
You released a Christmas single in the past (2007-2008). Is this something that will come out in December or have you ceased this?
I think it's taking a year off, though I wouldn't rule out another release in years to come. It's the gift that keeps on giving!
Why did you decide to add a fifth member? How has that been working out? Does it change your live sound a lot?
It has allowed us to include more detail in the live sound. I can hang back on guitar a lot more because the spaces are being filled with other, more interesting elements. It's working out well, though I think we will cap it at 5 members.
Living in Colour by Frightened Rabbit
Your last album The Winter of Mixed Drinks was well received. Are you writing any new material for a new album?
I'm getting started, though I tend to need some solitude, space and time to immerse myself in a project like writing an album. These conditions are almost impossible to find on tour.
I read you were big fans of the Delgados (huge fan myself). How did they influence your sounds and lyrics?
I think they had a huge influence because their music came into my life at just the right time. Prior to this, I had been listening to some pretty riff-centric, testosterone fuelled music. Then the Delgados came along and I realised there was a depth in the music that I hadn't experienced before. I still try to create that kind of drama, poetry and depth in my own music.
What are the goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?
I just want us to continue progressing, moving forward and making better records.
Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?
Bring the motherfucking ruckus.