Grant Hutchison has spoken out about the life and legacy of his late brother and Frightened Rabbit bandmate Scott, calling for more understanding around mental health issues and to dispel the myth of the “tortured artist”.
Scott Hutchison took his own life back in May 2018, following a lengthy battle with depression and anxiety. His family and bandmates then set up the Tiny Changes mental charity in his memory.
Now, for the new series Playing Well on BBC Radio 4, Grant has paid tribute to his brother and shone a light on the fun and kindness he renowned for.
“He named the band after a nickname that my mum had for him when he was wee,” said Grant. “He was shy, anxious, very artistic, winning competitions for drawing when he was four years younger than any of the other entrants.
“One side that people probably don’t really know was that he was a wind-up and a grass as well. He was the middle brother, so he would just go in, plant this bomb, and then walk off and watch it detonate. It worked every time. He liked to stir things up. He was popular, he was head boy. He was always the star. He was funny, he was hilarious.”
Asked about when he first started to notice Scott’s struggles with anxiety, Grant replied: “It’s something that I’ve thought a lot about. I haven’t suffered from anxiety or depression in the same way as he did at all. It was always hard for me to understand it, and to see it as more than just a bad day, or feeling sad, or feeling down, and I think that’s quite a big problem – beyond Scott, and it’s a wider issue that is quite hard to understand.”
Grant continued: “There were some nights when he struggled, depending on how he was feeling, but generally he could just go on stage and perform. I had this physical and metaphorical barrier of being behind a drumkit and having a bit of protection almost, and not being exposed.
“He would stand at the front, and there’s no hiding there. He wasn’t a character, he didn’t have a persona – that was him on stage, but there was something that he could switch on when on stage.
Following the success of the band’s second album ‘The Midnight Organ Fight‘, guitarist Andy Monaghan said that he started to notice “a weight” on Scott during their early shows in the US.
“I’d never met anyone like that, who had been so intense emotionally,” said Monaghan. “I openly spoke to Scott about those feelings I had at that time. It was me saying that I felt a distance from him specifically. He wasn’t very open with many elements of himself.
“When I brought that up with him, he was definitely unaware of that. He was in his own space and in his own self and dealing with things which, even looking back years later, he was just struggling with his life.”
While the band admitted that naturally they had a lot of fun and good memories from their time on the road, there was also an intensity that came with being on tour.
“I guess that the gap between the highs and lows starts to become bigger – it becomes much more difficult to cope with,” said Grant. “Not even the lows but just the normal level of life, I think we’ve all found it very difficult at times coming off tour back in a normal life. Definitely that’s something that was quite noticeable in Scott being the singer, being the songwriter, being the kind of ‘face’ of the band and him being Frightened Rabbit meant that it never really ended for him, I guess.
“In the same way that I could come home and go for a pint, and yes in Glasgow certain people would know who I was and would recognise me and ask for a picture, but I think it was a bit more intense for Scott.”
- READ MORE: “We’ll always miss him” – Frightened Rabbit, their closest friends and collaborators celebrate the beauty of Scott Hutchison
While Scott was always very open about his battle with depression, both in his music and in interviews, Grant argued that others hiding their true feelings was detrimental.
“You find that a lot with people who suffer with depression, anxiety and mental health issues – they become very good at papering over the cracks and keeping it from the people that they love,” said Grant. “It starts to protect themselves and those people, but eventually can do so much more damage than good.”
After honouring Frightened Rabbit fans for their outpouring of support and strengthening a sense of community following Scott’s death, Grant discussed the message of much of the band’s music and how he wanted his brother to be remembered.
“The way that Scott would write would be this very dark story but then go, ‘You know what? It could be worse – it’s not that bad’,” said Grant. “I hope that Frightened Rabbit’s music and Scott’s lyrics are not always attached to Scott’s death or Scott’s struggles when he was alive. Because that shouldn’t define who he was, or what the band was, or what the songs are and what they mean to people.”
He continued: “One of Scott’s favourite Frightened Rabbit songs was probably ‘Oil Slick’. You listen to the first half of that and it sounds like him moaning about how terrible a person he is. Then the last vocal line [sums it up], ‘There is light, there’s a tunnel to crawl through, we’ve still got hope so I think we’ll be fine‘.
After host Chris Hawkins concluded with messages from Frightened Rabbit fans summarising that the meaning of the band’s songs were “hymns to the possibility of change” and designed to “treat your life as a work in progress”, Grant said that he took solace in him and his other brother being able to keep Scott’s memory alive through his music.
“Me and my brother have kids aged nine to three,” added Grant. “One thing that I feel very lucky to have is the music and the videos so that they can still grow up with him as part of their lives. That’s not something that everyone gets if they’re in this situation. I can’t wait to tell my kids one day about the life that their uncle and dad had together for 34 years and showing them the songs.
“That’s going to be a very special thing – heartbreaking, but it’s something positive that I have to hold on to.”
Listen to the full Art Of Now episode on BBC Sounds here.
This summer also saw the band release the tribute record ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ with covers by the likes of Biffy Clyro, The Twilight Sad, Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Chvrches Lauren Mayberry and many more. The album was planned by frontman Scott Hutchison before his death
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- 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