As news of last week’s tragic death of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison slowly begins to sink in, Chief Reporter David Knox pays his own personal tribute.

IT was April 12, 2008, when a dishevelled Scott Hutchison took to the King Tuts stage in Glasgow to announce “we’re Frightened Rabbit from Selkirk”.

I’d hurried along the M8 after watching the town’s football team suffer yet another predictable defeat to Edinburgh University at Peffermill.

My knowledge of Frightened Rabbit was limited to half a dozen listens to the encouraging debut album, Sing the Greys, and a couple of straightforward yet enjoyable interviews over the phone – one with Scott and one with his drummer brother, Grant.

But my girlfriend, now wife, lived near Glasgow and it was my turn to do the travelling that weekend.

I am so grateful it was my turn to do the courting that Saturday.
For 40 minutes we, along with a packed King Tuts, were given a taste of what was to come – brutally honest words harmoniously sung over powerful percussion and incredibly beautiful alt-country guitars and keys.

There was sweat, there were tears and there was laughter. This wasn’t just another band.

Three or four days later The Midnight Organ Fight was released – one of the greatest records ever released by any Scottish band.

Scott Hutchison was a talented illustrator and had moved from the Royal Burgh to study at the Glasgow School of Art.

As well as an artist, he was also a gifted guitarist from a young age.

I remember interviewing Scott’s schooldays girlfriend after she’d made a few reality television appearances and she lamented how he would transport her to a different place with his musicianship.

By the time Grant had followed his brother west, Scott was already nurturing the sound that we all know today as Frightened Rabbit.

Grant once revealed to me how he had not known his shy big brother could sing until he’d been forced to perform by himself in Glasgow.

By the time I first saw them live Scott and Grant had been joined by their school friend Billy Kennedy.

A deep understanding and trust between the three of them was evident from the start and that resonated both in their recordings and their live performances.

Scott’s songs were original and, more importantly, they were personal – deflation, misery, heartbreak and suicide contemplation were all recalled and retold over hauntingly beautiful music.

Not many have the ability to unfurl their deepest emotions on the page - fewer still can do it with the accompaniment of alluring chords and notes.

Away from his writing and internal battles, though, Scott Hutchison was a remarkably affable, generous and humorous human being.

Just a few months after King Tuts and the release of The Midnight Organ Fight I had organised to meet Frightened Rabbit for a radio interview at Belladrum Festival.

A power cut to the tent, where they were ridiculously bottom of the bill, meant there was time for a kick about with a football.

Even in those early days there was a small army of the disillusioned beginning to muster around these rising stars of the independent Scottish alt-folk scene.

Once electricity was finally restored they were asked to cut their set short, from the planned half hour to just over 20 minutes, to help with scheduling.

This, you have to remember, was a band who had travelled in a van for five hours to reach Beauly to play their stunning new songs.

Yet rather than frustration and anger, they still came off stage full of fun and excitement – and I still remember the loud laughter bellowing from Scott during our rather shambolic attempt at an interview.

With Scott, as with the other Frightened Rabbit boys, there was no ego, pretence, or any other of those horrible traits associated with the music industry – I remember at the time putting this grounding down to where they came from, but I was maybe doing Scott, Grant and Billy a disservice.

A couple of months later, during their afternoon set at Ullapool’s Loopallu Festival there was a moment when Scott was reprimanded from a dad in the crowd for swearing in his front of his child.

For a good minute or so Scott not only apologised but begged the child for genuine forgiveness.

I was doing them a disservice – these were truly wonderful people who I was growing more and more proud to say came from my hometown.

Over the next few years Scott and Frightened Rabbit grew in so many ways but, at the same time, without ever cutting the umbilical cord to their beloved roots in Selkirk.

Whether it was the Victoria Hall, St Boswells, Jedburgh or Stow these musicians who were selling out huge venues throughout America and Europe made time for a homecoming.

And nobody was surprised when these modern-day rock stars were standing on the pavement cheering on their town’s Standard Bearer each June.

The last time I managed to see Frightened Rabbit live was in the cellar of a record store in London’s Leicester Square five years ago.

Having just signed a major deal with Atlantic Records, they were promoting their wonderful fourth album Pedestrian Verse.

Grant and Scott flanked Gordon Skene during a post-performance signing.

Despite looking exhausted there were smiles from both brothers when my wee girl told them her ‘granny lives in Selkirk like you’.

And, despite a building queue, Jess’s words suddenly sparked excited conversation from both.

Jess treasures her signed CD, I treasure the glint in Scott’s eye that I managed to capture on camera during their exchanges.

Since last week’s tragic events, millions of words – mostly a lot more eloquently put than I can muster – have been written in tribute to Scott Hutchison and his music. Some of the world’s biggest names in the industry have also clamoured to add their own accolades.

And every word is deserving.

I sincerely hope through time that Scott’s family – parents Marion and Ron and brothers Grant and Neil – along with his bandmates and his fans can allow the pain of his loss to be eased with the wonderful musical legacy he leaves behind – as well those treasured memories he seems to have given to so, so many people.

Thank you Scott.