“I hate the idea that opening up is in any way emasculating. Even if it fucking is, who cares?”
I’ve interviewed Scott more than I’ve interviewed any other artist. It was always an effortless pleasure. It pains me no end to say that this quote was from the last time we spoke, just a couple of months ago. Scott, as usual, was sweet and unguarded in discussing the power of music on mental health.
The first time we met was around a decade ago, with Scott immediately disarming the nerves of a young student journo/superfan with his openness, solid gold banter, brutal self-deprecation and his own fanboying over The National, something we had in common. Over the years in countless fields, bars, and venues, you couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by his generosity of spirit. He was just a bloody good man with time for everyone. Just last week after his new side-project Mastersystem absolutely slayed Oslo, he was on the finest of form and looking to the future. He had so much more to give.
To his fans and anyone who spent time with him, he was never a ‘rockstar’. Whether headlining Brixton or hanging around after his intimate Bandstand Busking session in Northampton Square back in March, he was just one of us. He could be taking the piss out of himself on stage or howling about heartache, and he was always so human. So much of that came from his lyrics, and his honesty in relaying their origins. He’d sing about the fumbling awkwardness of intimacy, the toxic haze of a hangover, crippling doubts and regrets, never ashamed to be vulnerable but almost always with an eye on the light of the end of the tunnel.
Over five triumphant Frightened Rabbit records, a solo album as Owl John and one with Mastersystem, he shone as one of the finest and most underrated songwriters of his generation – but he’d crease himself into oblivion if you dared suggest it to him. But a Frightened Rabbit fan is a particular tribe. Dedicated and indelibly tied to Scott’s sentiments. I’ve met so many with either stories about how a certain F’Rabbit record meant absolutely everything during their darkest times, or how one of Scott’s songs talked them away from the edge. They were universal, and real, for anyone who’s ever “woke up hurting” or finds themselves forever “working on their faults and cracks”.
During our last interview, I asked him if he took any kind of solace or satisfaction in knowing that so many took so much comfort in relating to his words.
“That’s the whole point in a lot of ways,” he replied. “Obviously the songs are quite personal, but there has to be a way in. So once a person talks to me and says that they not only found a way in, but lived within a song or album for a really long time, that’s fantastic to hear. It’s amazing how personal people are willing to be with how open they are to me. Because I guess my voice has been coupled with a lot of their worst times and it’s helped. So I think it’s often seen as a friend in those times.”
It was, more than he can ever know. He made it easier. We can’t thank him enough.
Frightened Rabbit, ‘Head Rolls Off’: “You can mark my words, I’ll make tiny changes to earth”
FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:
- ‘Am I depressed?’ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day