Members of Editors, Frightened Rabbit and Minor Victories have come together to form new band Mastersystem. Check out launch single ‘Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived’ along with tour dates and our interview with singer Scott Hutchison below.
The band is formed from Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, his brother and F’Rabbit drummer Grant, Editors and former Yourcodenameis:milo guitarist Justin Lockey, and his brother and Minor Victories bandmate James.
After meeting in Berlin, they decided to form a side-project. The result was debut album ‘Dance Music’ – a harsh and fuzzy collection of spikey college rock and tales of ‘still not having figured shit out in life’.
While Frightened Rabbit are preparing to return to the UK to tour the anniversary of their cult classic album ‘The Midnight Organ Fight‘ and Editors are about to release and tour new album ‘Violence‘, Mastersystem will release ‘Dance Music’ on April 6 ahead of a full UK tour.
What have you been doing since we last saw Frightened Rabbit?
“I’ve been busy living. It’s been nice being back in Glasgow. We’re trying to make adjustments to our studio space. For the next [Frightened Rabbit] album, we’re going to take control of the reigns and not use a producer as heavily as the last time. We’re trying to make sure that the studio is album ready by the time we get back from this tour. We’ve started that and it’s underway. In the meantime, we’re doing this really quick album with Grant and two brothers from Doncaster.”
I was trying to find a word for this album, and I decided upon ‘gnarly’.
“’Gnarly’ is great. This record is a throwback sound that appeals to my past. People have said that it’s a weird combination of nostalgia and hearing the future of something. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that it’s like being back in high school. The word ‘gnarly’ would be one that I’d happily use.”
At what point did it make sense that you guys should all make music together?
“Justin and James had been in the studio together making these tracks, and had thought of me to do the vocal. That was all that happened. They sent me the tracks and Grant got on board a little bit later. These tracks came to me fully fleshed out. I didn’t play a single bit of guitar on this, I was just the singer – which was really nice and refreshing. I just had to mould the music into songs. It was similar to the way I wrote the ‘Owl John’ album in terms of editing, but this time I didn’t have a hand in how the album sounded. I just tried to find the places where I could fit ‘verse, chorus, bridge’.”
It has the spikey post-rock feel that a lot of the [2014 debut solo record] ‘Owl John’ album had. Does it feel related to that record at all?
“Certainly, the delivery of it and a lot of the vocals – maybe thematically too. This is an album about drifting and feeling a little bit lost. It’s about feeling disappointed in one’s self to have reached the age that I am and still having not figured shit out. It was also quite spontaneous and quick. I didn’t want to overthink things, because that’s the spirit of the music that I was given – this is music to be enjoyed and not overthought too much.”
Is there a part of your brain that funnels writing lyrics into ‘Frightened Rabbit’ and ‘other’?
“Well, I don’t know. There is no barrier that stops certain things from getting through to the band. It just so happens that the Mastersystem is a very small and pungent slice of where I was in a very short space of time. I wasn’t doing very much and I certainly wasn’t at my best, but this music came to me and it really reinvigorated me. It was great to work with a different band and to work with Grant in a different capacity. The main thing I’m looking forward to is playing this live. That’s where this will become an even bigger beast.”
Is it going to be a balls to the wall high school garage rock kind of affair?
“Man, yeah – it’s true. Fancy pedal boards are out of the window. There are no keyboards, no fandangle-y computer tricks on stage. It’s going to be amazing to be part of something that I haven’t been part of for a very long time – just a band that uses guitars, amps and a drum kit. One of the nicest things that could happen would be if someone who hates everything that we’ve ever done loves this.”
So this will be completely different beast?
“Yeah, with a Frightened Rabbit show I need to hold it together for 90 minutes. These can’t be any longer than 45 minutes so what’s the point in holding anything back? It should be fucking carnage. Grant is a rock drummer at heart and live is really where he comes into his own. I’m hugely excited about the whole thing.”
Will it just be the record or will you guys be throwing in some Frightened Rabbit tunes, or maybe some Yourcodenameis:milo from Justin’s past?
“Ha! I think Justin would probably tell you to fuck off – but we’ll have to think of something because it’s a short record. I’m up for some of playing some of Justin’s old stuff, but I don’t think he’d be up for it. It comes in at just over half an hour. If we can put together something that lasts just over an hour that would be good. But I also like the idea of just thrashing it out and going ‘fuck off’. I don’t think this is the place for Frightened Rabbit songs, that would be a bit indulgent. The power of this should be the event itself.”
- Check back at NME soon for more of our interview with Scott Hutchison on music, mental health and the future of Frightened Rabbit
Mastersystem on tour
Mastersystem’s upcoming UK tour dates are below. Tickets will be on sale from 10am on Friday February 23.
Wednesday April 25 – MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Thursday April 26 – NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny
Friday April 27 – GLASGOW Art School
Saturday April 28 – LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Monday April 30 – BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute 3
Tuesday May 1 – LONDON Oslo