THE MIDNIGHT ORGAN FIGHT 10TH ANIVERSARY
In 2008, Selkirk indie rock band Frightened Rabbit released their sophmore studio album The Midnight Organ Fight; a self-deprecating, emotive and brutally honest reflection of a break-up, told through the words of frontman Scott Hutchinson. The lyrics were emphatically direct, succinct and utterly heart-wrenching, laid over a wonderful blend of frantic acoustic and electric guitars, accompanied by the exuberant drumming of Grant Hutchison. Whilst the album might vary in tempo; composing of a mix of anthemic indie pop bangers like The Modern Lepper and Keep Yourself Warm and slow, tender ballads like Poke and My Backwards Walk, it never attempts to supress the melancholy. From start to finish, the heartbreak is laid bare for all to see. It’s as immensely intense as it is cathartic.
Following its release, the album catapulted Frightened Rabbit firmly in to the public conscious, developing an almost cult following, particularly in Glasgow. The band has since gone on to produce three more critically acclaimed albums and toured the world over. This year however, on the 10-year anniversary of The Midnight Organ Fight’s release, the band will play a string of shows in the UK playing the album in its entirety, culminating in a show in Glasgow’s 02 Academy. “The album holds a very special place in our hearts” explains drummer Grant Hutchison. “It was the album that really announced us to the world and showed what we’re really about. In contrast to the greys (Sing the Greys), it felt like we were writing, playing and performing with an almost freedom, the limited in what we could do. I think that’s very much reflected in Scott’s writing. It’s very much Scott’s record. It’s a break-up album; it’s essentially an almost word for word account of what happened. It’s so raw and incredibly honest and I think that’s why people love it so much”.
It’s this element of complete and total honesty throughout the album that appears to resonate so profoundly with the fans, captivating them. “Folk really love it, especially in Glasgow” continues Grant. “It was a lot of peoples first exposure to our band and a lot of people really identify with the lyrics and what Scott’s saying. There’s this element of an almost sort of public ownership in the album, it belongs to everyone.
10 years after it’s release, The Midnight Organ Fight continues to be the fans favourite. Whilst its longevity is hardly surprising to the fans and critics, the band continued to be surprised by the album’s continued popularity. “It’s the little fucker that won’t seem to die” laughs Grant. It becomes immediately apparent nobody in the band foresaw the popularity and cult following the release of this album would bring. When asked about the moment the band realised they were on the brink of something special, Grant recalls a particular night at The Cathouse in Glasgow. “We were playing a show at the Cathouse funnily enough, roughly around the time the album was to be released. It was a small show consisting mainly of friends and family. Unbeknownst to us one of the lads from We Were Promised Jetpacks had leaked the album to everybody in attendance, and they were there at the show singing along to all the songs, mouthing the words. There was also this show we played at the Queens Hall that was memorable. I think it was those two shows that made us appreciate the significance of that album.
Its perfectly normal for most bands and artists to develop a small element of apathy towards their most popular works; it’d be nearly impossible not to feel this way after spending months on tour constantly subjected to never-ending requests for all the greatest hits. But is The Midnight Organ Fight immune to this? Since the album was released, Frightened Rabbit have released three further studio albums, with both Pedestrian Verse and Painting of a Panic Attack performing considerably better in the charts, immersing the band into the mainstream. However, The Midnight Organ Fight’s popularity never wanes. “It’s the one a lot of people keep going back to” chimes Grant. “I think because it was a lot of people’s first introduction to our band and it’s the one people gravitate to more. It has this raw energy and honesty and I thinks that’s why everyone keeps going back to it” I ask Grant whether he thinks the album receives an almost unfair and disproportionate amount of attention compared to their other efforts. “It’s a tricky one” he replies. “The fact people enjoy and relate to that album so much, and we can share that with them, is a really wonderful thing. It’s as much their album as it is ours. It’s only really in Scotland, and particular Glasgow, where this album receives so much attention. When we play anywhere else, it’s a very varied setlist, but in Scotland, people are always going to want songs off that album. I don’t think we’ll ever tire of it playing it though. It’s an incredibly important record to us all, especially Scott. We put this tour together for the fans, and if it’s still popular in another 10 years, we’ll play it again”.
But what can fans expect from the show, other than hearing The Midnight Organ Fight in its entirety. “It’s going to be a show of two halves; obviously playing the album in its entirety for the first half, then we’ve got a nice collection of songs lined up for the second. It’s going to be really special playing in Glasgow again, looking forward to it”.
Aside from touring, drummer Grant has also been involved in a collaboration with designers Trakke fashioning a new drumstick case. “It was really fun to be a part of that process” says Grant. “I designed it after my previous cases were always knackered touring, with drumsticks falling out the bottom. I got in touch with the designers as a fan of their work and this was the outcome”.
Interview by Daniel Smith