Help Musicians Scotland: Career Pathways with Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit's Grant Hutchison and Simon Liddell speak to Help Musicians Scotland about their journey from being emerging artists to a major label band
Following on from open and honest conversations with BMX Bandits’ Duglas T Stewart and Emma Pollock, the latest video as part of our media partnership with Help Musicians Scotland comes from Frightened Rabbit's Grant Hutchison and Simon Liddell as they discuss the highs and lows of the journey from being emerging artists to becoming a major label band.
"At the request of Grant and Simon," Help Musicians Scotland’s Programmes & Outreach Officer David Culbert tells us, "we have kept the focus of this video on the evolution of Frightened Rabbit within the music industry. We would like to thank Grant and Simon for sharing their stories of success from their roots in Scotland to a much-loved, international band."
In the short film which you can watch in the below YouTube player (click here if it’s not displaying correctly), the first question Hutchison and Liddell tackle is: ‘When did you feel that things were starting to happen for Frightened Rabbit?’
"We played a show at The Queen’s Hall in 2008, I think, maybe 2009," Hutchison says, "but it was just after we’d released The Midnight Organ Fight, and it sold out, which we were not used to or not expecting, certainly not in venues [that size] and everyone knew the words and sang along… for my parents, they were there and they were like, ‘Oh, so this is not just a hobby?’"
Transitioning from being in a band purely as a hobby to it becoming a full-blown and full-time job can be daunting, and finding the right people to work with along the way, people that have the same values and visions as you can, in particular, be difficult. What might be right for one person or one group of people, may be completely wrong for another.
When it came to Frightened Rabbit signing their first record deal, the privilege eventually went to Brighton-based indie FatCat Records, but it wasn’t all plain sailing as Hutchison recalls: "We had conversations with one major label way back, and that didn’t happen, and at the time [that] was terribly upsetting."
In hindsight, though, fortunately he sees it as more a blessing in disguise, as this particular label seemed to just want to make a quick buck and didn’t seem to actually care much for the band or what they wanted. "What we would have been was a product," he continues. "When we were talking to them we didn’t seem to be on the same page, and it felt like, to us – ‘we’ll make the record really cheap and then we’ll make loads of money back off it’, and we had more ambition for recording than they did… so when we first signed to a label it was FatCat. They were certainly looking to develop the band and help us grow, but in a natural way."
Now signed to Atlantic Records, a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group, Liddell explains why it works: "From every member of the team at Atlantic there was a real sort of interest or passion for the band. There was a care." Hutchison adds: "They wanted us to do well because we got on and they liked the music."
Liddell concludes that although career pathways can be different for each artist, the thing he finds most important is getting the required support after returning home from a tour: "The primary thing for me is support post-tour, recognising the differences there as well, and the different issues [you] face coming back home."
Based in Glasgow, and covering all of Scotland, Help Musicians Scotland is part of Help Musicians UK, a charity that has been running for close to a century. Investing more than £600,000 a year, they help artists via a breadth and depth of services, funds and grants that focus on mental, physical, financial and career health.
Help Musicians offer a lifetime of support when musicians need it most and as such have several grants available that can help at every stage of an artist's career, most notably The Fusion Fund, which provides financial support to enable professional musicians to access creative and professional development opportunities both in the UK and internationally, and Do It Differently, a pivotal new fund for independent music creators offering 360-degree support benefits across creative, wellbeing and business development.
Contact the Help Musicians Scotland office:
0141 404 9502
If you work in music and are struggling to cope, or know someone who is, get in touch with Music Minds Matter, Help Musicians UK’s around-the-clock listening ear service and support line dedicated to everyone who works in the music industry. Contact Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008 or email: email@example.com