Frank Turner on losing Scott Hutchison and finding “acceptance” on his new album

The singer on how coming to terms his childhood, his relationship with his trans parent and more shaped new album 'FTHC'

Frank Turner has opened up about how losing Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison and the theme of “acceptance” shaped his new album ‘FTHC’.

Hutchison, who died by suicide in 2018, was recently immortalised by his friend Turner on the single ‘A Wave Across The Bay‘ from his ninth album ‘FTHC’ – released last week (Friday February 11). The song addresses Turner’s relationship with the late singer, as well as coming to terms with Hutchison’s final days and his decision to take his own life.

“I try to write in an unforced way, and that was an extreme example of that,” Turner told NME. “I had a very powerful lucid dream one night and it featured Scott showing me some chords and some words. I wrote them down and the next day I had three quarters of the song. I’m aware that that’s fucked, but this is what happened.

“The arrangement decisions on the song – the production and everything – are all consciously a tribute to the music of Frightened Rabbit. It’s epic, slightly post-indie or whatever you want to call it, but there’s an enormous to it and a smallness to it that balances in a beautiful way. That’s something Frightened Rabbit were the masters of.”

Elaborating on their relationship, Turner continued: “I’m an enormous Frightened Rabbit fan, and I was a fan before I was a friend. Scott and I met because we were on the same American radio festival circuit in 2009 or 2010. He had no fucking idea who I was but I was a huge fan and I just basically showed up in his dressing room every day and went, ‘Hi!’ until I wore him down.”

Turner went on to say that writing the song provided him with “a sense of being able to understand what I think and feel about something slightly better in the aftermath” of Hutchison’s passing.

“It’s a song about grief, loss and suicide, but it’s also a celebration of a life and an individual. It’s about acceptance,” said Turner. “It’s a difficult thing to talk about, but it breaks my fucking heart what Scott decided to do, but he didn’t make a mistake – he made a choice. It’s a choice that I wish he hadn’t made and I wish I could have talked him out of it or whatever egocentric thing I could say about that, but he made a decision and there’s a part of me that wants to recognise my friend’s own sovereignty.

“I want to find a way of being cool with that somehow because it helps me be cool with my friend. I don’t want to be pissed off at him.”

Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison

Elsewhere on ‘FTHC’, the song ‘Miranda’ sees Turner examine his relationship with his trans parent. In the first verse, Turner sings: “My father is called Miranda these days/ She’s a proud transgender woman and my resentment has started to fade/ ‘Cause it was never about who she was, just the way that he behaved.

On his decision to write the song, Turner told NME: “I’m aware that the public trans debate gets quite heated. I do want to talk about this and I think it’s important to talk about, but also let’s just tell it how it is: these are the facts and real things that happened.”

He continued: “It’s a song about forgiveness and again about acceptance, but it’s vitally important and hopefully obvious that it’s not about forgiveness and acceptance of anyone’s gender identity. That’s not something that requires forgiveness and acceptance. That song found its way onto the record because I needed a way to say, ‘These are the things that I used to fucking hate about my dad.”

Turner said that he had received a number of messages about the song – from fans and others who felt touched by the sentiments expressed. “I don’t write in order to garner reaction, but you write a song, you put it out into the world, then someone writes you a message that says, ‘Hey, I am trans myself and having difficulty dealing with my family about it’, or from the other side with people saying, ‘I have a trans family member and this song has helped us have a conversation’,” Turner revealed.

“Even less dramatically than that – a dear friend of mine whose parents are just really not cool about trans people conceptually heard this song and it really made them stop in their tracks and think. That’s cool.”

Overall, Turner said that his new album was driven by notions of “acceptance” as well as “defiance”.

“It’s not a concept record, but one of the themes is around getting older,” said Turner. “I turned 40 the other day and there’s more than one way of handling it. This is what we signed up for and turning 40 is better than the alternative of not, if you see what I mean.

“Everything hurts more, I can’t party like I did when I was 25, and I’m no longer a hot, young, new artist – but I’m not quite a heritage act yet. You can weep for lost youth but it strikes me as a waste of time because it’s always going to happen.”

He went on: “The other thing you can do is accept that life has phases. Partying and drugs was a phase of my life, and I would rather find a way of blowing it a kiss fondly as it walks into the sunset rather than it running away and me yelling, ‘Please come back!’”

Now older with “a better sense of security” and self-identity, Turner said that he felt more assured, confident and better-skilled to address matters of his past.

“Talking about things like childhood, parents, whatever – these are not topics that I was ready to talk about five years ago,” he said. “There’s a sense of acceptance that I can now talk about the things that happened to me when I was a kid, in a way that I couldn’t when I was younger.”

Turner added: “The one consolation of getting older is a better sense of security in yourself. You’ve got a better sense of who you are.”

‘FTHC’ by Frank Turner is out now. His UK tour dates kick off in March.

Profits from sales of the 7″ vinyl edition of ‘A Wave Across A Bay’, which also features Turner’s cover of the Frightened Rabbit song ‘The Modern Leper’ on the B-side, are being donated to Tiny Changes – a mental health charity set up in Hutchison’s memory. Visit here for donations and more information.

Meanwhile, Hutchison’s family and Frightened Rabbit bandmates recently released The Work – a book collecting and celebrating the late frontman’s lyrics and art.

For help and advice on mental health:

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