For Scott Hutchison, thank you for the music | Mental Health Awareness Week

For Scott Hutchison, thank you for the music | Mental Health Awareness Week

Frightened Rabbit - December 2016 - Newcastle Riverside
Frightened Rabbit – December 2016 – Newcastle Riverside

I’m writing this as it’s the only way I can come to terms with what happened and start to move on. It seems like an appropriate time as it’s Mental Health Awareness week. When I began writing this I just wanted to say a few words but the rest flowed out. I’ve been a bit taken aback by the sudden loss of Scott that I’ve not really been able to process my thoughts. Gordon and I decided it’d be nice to pay our own respects to the man that brought us so much musical treasure. Hopefully, my thoughts and experiences here will help someone else. I feel better for writing it. It is very personal and there are some things here which I’ve never said to anyone other than my therapist.

Music is my life, my escape from reality, the reason I became a music photographer is due to a breakdown in 2012 ish. A friend committed suicide around that time and that really shook me. My recovery involved CBT which taught me to set goals and learn to enjoy things again. I realised that whenever I have a camera in my hand I feel no pain, when I listen to music I forget about my pain. Hence I became a music photographer and it’s taken over my life. Don’t think I’d want it any other way. I’ve quit music photography more times than I can recall (usually due to mental illness and alcohol abuse, not a good combo!) but I always come back. I love it.

Those who know me will be aware of my fondness for a handful of Scottish bands. I was lucky enough to have seen Frightened Rabbit a couple of times and Mastersystem on their surprise UK tour.

Scott was very good at songwriting. I am still unable to listen to this without crying. It was always a brilliant song, seems so much more now. This song means so much to me.

I spoke to Scott a couple of weeks before he left us. His passing was sudden and although he’d been hugely open about his struggles, it still came as a huge shock. He did seem in a better place mentally. I’ve battled depression most of my adult life, this year it became unbearable and I found myself not wanting to continue. I came close (twice) but ultimately I couldn’t do it. The last time I locked myself in a bathroom and searched for ways of making it look like an accident. I chose to stay, throw myself into photography instead. During this period I found no enjoyment in anything. Only music helped. I binged on the Mastersystem album when it came out. I just connected with it instantly. “I instinctively and instantly connected to it without necessarily understanding why”.

To me, It seemed like Scott had found peace with his inner demons and Mastersystem project seemed to be quite a cathartic exercise. Now looking back and listening to it in hindsight, it seems like a different thing altogether. Now it feels like In Utero.

The thing I admire about Scott is how much his songs have made a massive impact on mental health awareness. He helped to make it okay to talk about these things. I’ve secretly lived with depression since my teens but I’m from an age where such things are not to be spoken of. The shame, the stigma, the shit advice of pull yourself together ‘some people have it much worse than you’ a former boss once told me that. Truth is it’s a deadly illness. It’s an illness that takes over and often feels there is no cure, just endless pain, sometimes that pain is physically debilitating and you’ll do anything to make it stop. Depression is a strange thing, on paper my life is perfect, good job, a loving partner, ticking all of those life goals etc but that doesn’t stop it. It’s when I faced my own end that realised how dangerous it is. Get help, the NHS has helped me immensely. I’d also recommend reading material and support on www.mind.org.uk

During my darkest days, I’d enjoy some Frabbits (Painting of a Panic Attack on repeat. Which got better and better with each play), lots of Eels, The National, Sigur Rós and recent period Mogwai. I’m pigeonholed as a metalhead, but I couldn’t listen to metal, it just triggers panic attacks, I couldn’t watch any TV as it’s all empty advertising fuelled drivel that wants to sell me shit that I don’t need to make my life less shit. So I hid indoors and listened to my mellow music, occasionally breaking out to see a band and get some photos. I saw British Sea Power in Glasgow and for the first time in months, I was happy, if only for one night.

The day of the Mastersystem gig came, my panic attacks were already giving my brain excuses to not go, let’s stay here indoors away from alcohol and loud people, I got a last minute call that Scott was available for interview. I panicked and convinced myself I can’t possibly do it! Then had a word with myself and said aye, fuck it, let’s do it. It was short chat, around 15 minutes but it was hugely positive and funny, Scott had a terrific sense of humour. Scott was genuinely excited to be doing the Mastersystem stuff. I debated uploading the audio recording of the interview but it’s just too difficult to listen to at this time.

Mastersystem - April 2018 - Cluny Newcastle
Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

We chatted about the Dance Music album and the usual stuff, how the project came about, the recording process, etc and what he was planning next, more Frightened Rabbit and Mastersystem stuff. On the recording, you can feel his excitement for it, like he has a purpose.

One of the ways I’ve been coping with my illness is to speak to other sufferers and see what helps them. I don’t think I can do that anymore. Not yet. Maybe down the line, but for now I can’t. We talked about depression briefly; “Yeah, it’s something I’ve been battling for a while, I guess the thing is before I realised what was going on I was sort of relishing in it, it becomes such an integral part of my character and I was like well I right these sad songs and it helps me creatively and then it gets to the point where like, no!! fuck that!“. Read the rest of the interview here.

I came away from the interview buzzing, he was very inspiring and of course, his infectious sense of humour made me feel at ease. I went to the show and it was bloody brilliant. The band were on top form, clearly relishing in the music and they finished the night talking to fans, signing records and having a good old laugh. it was great!

Mastersystem - April 2018 - Cluny Newcastle
Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

I’m grateful for the music and I’m very grateful for the time he took to speak to me. No ego with Scott, yes we’re only this little tiny website from Newcastle that no-one has heard of but he took the time to speak to us, to me that’s just amazing. Afterhe went missing I descended into a 3-day long depressive state, bursting into tears at the slightest sad thought, deep down I felt that he was gone, I couldn’t accept it. The guilt from the pain I could have caused my loved ones destroyed me and I didn’t leave the house for a few days. I just felt so bad for his loved ones.

I was a latecomer to the magic of Frightened Rabbit. I actually came to know them via their penchant for bringing amazing support bands on tour. This tour they’d chosen a favourite (and criminally overlooked band) Wintersleep on their 2013 UK tour. Excited to enough just to see Wintersleep, Frabbits seemed like a nice bit of icing on the cake. When Scott played a solo version of Poke in Hall 2, no mic, just acoustic and his voice in that sonically perfect room. It sent chills down my spine. Just perfect. That was it. I was hooked. I once played this song to a girl I dated, she made a twisty face at it, maybe it was the swear word. We split not long after. No regrets.

The best advice I can give any fellow sufferers is to get help. Be open about it but take your time, it can take a long while for you to become comfortable talking about it, baby steps. Speak to your doctor and you’ll find the right treatment for you. It takes time and everyone’s own experience is unique. What works for one person is not necessarily the way for you. It’s a deeply personal illness. I’d highly recommend speaking to someone you don’t know, be it a GP, councillor or Samaritans. They are unbiased and can help you make sense of the pain from a third person perspective. I found talking to loved ones made me worse, the guilt of putting them through it just added to my decline. I started with talking to neutral people then built up to opening up about it to friends and colleagues. It’s working for me. I’m still very ill but I’m on the right path now. A good friend also recommended a book by Matt Haig: Reasons to Stay Alive. As the title suggests it’s a tough subject but it certainly helped me understand the physical impact of the illness and he has this way of putting into words something that I couldn’t explain to friends and family. I found myself frustrated at not being able to do that, I can only talk in metaphors. Matt nails it. I still have a copy of it with highlighted parts for the days when things don’t go well. I’d recommend it to anyone suffering and particularly to their loved ones who feel helpless, it might give you a clearer idea of something they can’t put into words.

That’s all from me. Frightened Rabbit are one of the greatest bands to come out of Scotland and that is saying something. The love for Scott has been amazing to see. That’s the thing I’ve really loved, hearing other peoples stories and how the music has helped them. Such a lovely bloke and such a brilliant songwriter. I can’t believe there won’t be any more gigs or new songs. We’ve lost a real treasure. Thank you for the music.

Here’s a selection of my favourite photos of Scott

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before I go I’d like to share one of my favourite songs. I adore the lyrics. They are just perfect.


Gordon Armstrong recently unearthed some lost photos from Frightened Rabbit at Hit The North Festival at the Riverside in April 2017. After hard drive failure it was feared they were lost for good but he managed to retrieve them, he’s kindly shared them with us and picks a few of his favourite songs.

PHOTO GALLERY – Newcastle Riverside April 2017

 

Whilst chatting about which songs he loved, Gordon mentioned “During a recent conversation with a friend it came up that so many of their friends have been affected by his passing and each one has posted links to different songs. This speaks volumes to the mans writing skill and how he could reach people in so many ways.” I think that’s such a lovely tribute to leave this piece on. We have lost a really unique talent.

MASTERSYSTEM | Scott Hutchison | INTERVIEW

MASTERSYSTEM | Scott Hutchison | INTERVIEW

Scott Hutchison talks to us about all things Mastersystem

Feature and photography by Graeme J. Baty

I caught up with Scott Hutchison from Mastersystem and Frightened Rabbit before their Cluny gig in Newcastle. I’ve been fairly blown away by the surprise album and just had to find out a bit more about the record, lyrical themes and the band’s plans.

Mastersystem - April 2018 - Cluny Newcastle
Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

It’s really nice to get to speak to Scott, his songs have helped me recently with my own depression battle and Mastersystem album came out at a really dark period in my life, I instinctively and instantly connected to it without necessarily understanding why. Mastersystem are much more than the sum of their parts. They are a breath of fresh air. I’m quietly confident it’ll make my top ten albums of the year. Any less of my waffle and more questions!

I suppose the obvious question to ask is how did this project come about?

Well, it was brought to myself and Grant by Justin Lockey two summers ago while we were opening up for Editors in Berlin. It was one of those things where you have a lot of conversations like that with fellow musicians where you like we should do something together. The thing I realised is that if you have that conversation with Justin then he’s gonna make it happen! He’s a bit of a workaholic and he’s got about 5 different things on the go at any one time. So a few months later at the start of 2017, I got a bunch of tracks and I absolutely loved them. It was like here’s a bunch of instrumentals, go make them into songs in your own time, there’s no rush. I was still in the midst of a Frightened Rabbit tour so I gave it a couple more months then I began writing and it came together pretty quickly after that.

So aye it’s been a swift project, which is kinda the best way to do a sideproject really. That’s the kind of ethos of it really, let’s not overthink this, it’s big dumb guitar tracks and I took the same approach with the lyrics. Somethings with other songs I can spend months to perfect them lyrically. What I did essentially over a couple of months I took a total of about a week to put the lyrics together, I tried to do it quickly, kinda off the cuff gut instinct approach and it seemed to fit.

I’m quite blown away by the power and heaviness of the album. It feels like an escape from other projects, yet with a pleasing familiarity. Is this a deliberate approach to the sound? How would you compare Mastersystem to other projects?

Yeah, it gives it a good reason to exist because it’s really quite different from what we usually do. Also, I didn’t play any guitar on this record so I was listening to someone else’s song and I really enjoyed that detachment where I could just be the vocalist.

Can you tell us a bit about the recording and writing process? Did you get together to write and record or was it more of a studio project?

Well the ‘demos’ that I got where to my ears pretty fully formed, they had some rough drums on them which Grant re-did, but that was the last thing. It was like making an album in reverse as Grant was the last thing to go on it. We were all available at different times, I went down to Doncaster for two sessions, for a total of 6 days recording. Some of those tracks it was pretty much the first time I sang them, so it was that kind of spontaneity as opposed to overthinking things.

It’s interesting it’s definitely changed my thoughts towards writing and recording, maybe that kind of ‘off the cuffness’ is something that keeps the music exciting and alive rather than studiously picking through a track to try and perfect it. I know Justin has the same process in Editors. With Grant over the years, we’ve kind of tamed him a lot. We’ve brought in a lot of electronic sounds in the studio and the way that we used to play when we started out, where it was just thrashing about he’s not been able to do much of that in recent years as the sound has calmed down a lot. He loved getting back into that animal style drumming.

It was a proper release for us as well, a between album project so it’s really good pallet cleanser, which will probably affect how we approach the next Frightened Rabbit album, it’s exciting.

Mastersystem - April 2018 - Cluny Newcastle
Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

Where did the name come from? Is it Sega related?!

Well yeah, it is, but it’s one word! So far we’ve not had any angry emails from Sega saying cease and desist. The thing is there is a certain amount of regression to what we were all listening to in high school, so it takes us back to what we were listening to early Pumpkins, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr. and all the Seattle grunge stuff, that’s where the heart of the record lies but we wanted to bring it forward, certainly lyrically I wanted to have that kind of teenage angst but with adult problems in the lyrics.

Approaching the vocals for this I was almost able to get into a different sort of character there’s a lot of heart and soft feeling in Frighten Rabbit songs and I think this is more aggressive. You wouldn’t really know it listening to it but I was thinking of some of my favourite vocalists and performers like early Idlewild; Roddy Woomble, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. Where there’s that aggression, swagger and confidence which I don’t really do a lot of in the other band, so there’s definitely a lot of lyrics that wouldn’t make it into a Frightened Rabbit song but I felt able to put it into those songs because the tone is so different.

Lyrically Dance Music seems quite dark, introspective and unafraid to use foul language to get a point across. I’m quite curious as this year I’ve been battling depression and find myself looking deeper into lyrics (particularly Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad albums) to find comfort. Is this a deliberate attempt to look at accepting one’s inner demons and behaviour?

Yeah, it’s something I’ve been battling for a while, I guess the thing is before I realised what was going on I was sort of relishing in it, it becomes such an integral part of my character and I was like well I right these sad songs and it helps me creatively and then it gets to the point where like ‘No!! Fuck that!’, this is no way to live and these songs definitely came from a point where I probably started writing in earnest at the end of the Frightened Rabbit tour cycle and when you’re cast back into normal life and you have to try to find a way to fit in again and it’s a really difficult place to be, so a lot of this album is about questioning where about I’m supposed to be? What’s the fucking point? How do I reshape myself as an adult after this fairly careful and catered for existence? That’s what a lot of this record refers to, that kind dumped back down to earth, yeah I’ve got to sort my shit out now.

What can we expect on setlists? All Mastersystem material or will other songs creep in?

Last night was the first show on the tour and everyone seemed pretty psyched about it. We just played the album from start to finish then fucked off (laughs). To me, I think if we’d stuck in a couple of Frightened Rabbit tunes in would sort of devalue the whole process. We also played with different setlist orders but it works better how we put it together for the album. I’ve also got to put in a bit more chat in-between songs so that people don’t feel like they’re only just getting into it and then it’s over. Last night we managed about 50 minutes which is pretty good going for a 35-minute album!

It’s exciting it’s completely a different experience for all of us, just thrash out this album, no encores when were done were done and then have a chat with people afterwards. I’d never played this venue before a couple of months ago but I’m back twice in two months is pretty great, I love it here!

Is this a one-off or will there be more to come from Mastersystem?

That’s all up in the air, I mean we put out this record because it was quick and all the release schedule was sort of a surprise, we wanted to keep it under wraps until it was almost out. So we’re kind of seeing if there’s any appetite for it elsewhere in the world, maybe there could be a US tour or something like that and yeah if people want to see us again later in the year then we could do that, but at the moment there are no plans. We’ve all got day jobs to be getting on with as well so we don’t want to impinge too much on that.

But hopefully not the last (of Mastersystem), knowing James and Justin they could have another bunch of tracks ready by the end of the year we could  just stick to the same set of rules it’s just fucking guitar music lets not add any bells ‘n’ whistles and we could put it together really quickly so yeah, I don’t think it’ll be the last you’ll hear of us and hopefully not the last album either!

Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle
MASTERSYSTEM | 26.04.18 | The Cluny

MASTERSYSTEM | 26.04.18 | The Cluny

Mastersystem – 26th April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle – Review and photos

Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

I discovered this band by accident. A fellow photographer mentioned them and I remained oblivious as to who they were. Curious I did a bit that there Googleing and stumbled upon the video for The Enlightenment. Holy shit! Frabbits with balls!!!!

More research shed light on the project. The release was a fast-paced, bash it out kind of affair and came as a pleasant surprise. Not only that they’re playing the Cluny!?! My mind raced! I won’t go into too much detail, I interviewed Scott before the show and that shines some light on this rather brilliant project. Stay tuned for that one very soon.

Mastersystem might be a new band and a down a key member (Justin Lockey away on tour with Editors) but as they took to the stage with album opener Proper Home they look like a well-horned band that have been playing together for years. The venue is fairly busy, word seems to have spread. There’s a great atmosphere in the venue, the band clearly having a great time and the audience indulging the new songs.

Mastersystem – April 2018 – Cluny Newcastle

They proceed to tear through the Dance Music album in full. Of course being a brand new band means less material, however, that material is really strong and stands as a brilliant piece of work, regardless of other projects. Tonight they stick to the new material and I think the gig was all the more special for it. It’s much more of a rock band, the songs have that pleasant familiarity but with a heavier kick in the arse, big fat bass and fuzzy guitars bringing me back to the 90s alternative rock Pumpkins and Dino!

I left the venue on a high from the music. I know I’ll look back on this night for years to come. I really hope we get more material from Mastersystem in future. They’re just fucking great.

PHOTO GALLERY

Click a thumbnail to view the image slideshow


Photos are Copyright Graeme J. Baty. All rights reserved.

GJB’s photos are free to use for super-cool people who give the photographer a credit, FAQ usage

Any questions or to request high-res versions or obtain prints please contact us 🙂


View more photo galleries via our Music Photography Library

FRIGHTENED RABBIT | 12.12.16 | Newcastle Riverside

FRIGHTENED RABBIT | 12.12.16 | Newcastle Riverside

Frightened Rabbit – 12th December 2016 – Newcastle Riverside -PHOTOS

Frabbits back in town. “Good to play in a dirty Newcastle venue, a one you know has been thrown up in. We like that.” Scott Hutchison jokes. Referring to the last time I saw these gents at comparatively uber posh Sage. I have to agree with the band, I much prefer a proper venue! They seemed to be enjoying themselves. The venue is completely sold out and packed to the rafters with loyal fans.

Frightened Rabbit - December 2016 - Newcastle Riverside
Frightened Rabbit – December 2016 – Newcastle Riverside

Dark brooding and epic light setup was a pleasure to photo as they came on to ‘Get Out’ from the latest LP. Bizarrely but rather welcome, I had the entire photopit to myself. Frabbits have a knack of getting great support bands with PAWS opening for the whole tour. It was a cracking night!

Frightened Rabbit - December 2016 - Newcastle Riverside
Frightened Rabbit – December 2016 – Newcastle Riverside

PHOTO GALLERY
Click a thumbnail to view full screen.


Images Copyright Blank Slate Creative. For permission to use these images please contact us or visit our FAQ for more info


View more photo galleries via our Music Photography Library

music-image