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The legacy of Frightened Rabbit

A tribute album and charity commemorate lead singer's suicide.

“Scott is Frightened Rabbit” said Frightened Rabbit bassist Billy Kennedy. “It doesn’t exist without Scott at all.”

Frightened Rabbit have been a cornerstone of Scottish indie music since the release of their first album in 2006. However, the band was struck by tragedy in May of 2018 when lead singer Scott Hutchison committed suicide after a long struggle with mental health issues.

An outpouring of tributes came from fans, friends and fellow musicians. Albums Thank You For Today by Death Cab for Cutie and It Won’t Be Like This All The Time by The Twilight Sad were dedicated to Hutchison, and fans took to Twitter to express their love and support for the band.

After Hutchison’s death, fans were unclear what the future had in store for Frightened Rabbit. The band cancelled the concerts they had scheduled for June, refunding the cost of tickets, but encouraging fans to donate to the Scottish Association for Mental Health instead.

In August 2018, they played at the Sleep in the Park charity event in Glasgow. Many guest vocalists joined the line-up for the day, including Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro and James Graham of The Twilight Sad.

May 2019 saw the creation of Tiny Changes, a mental health charity named after a lyric from their song Head Rolls Off. Tiny Changes aims to raise awareness of mental health issues in children and young people and promote initiatives that provide mental health support.

Since its creation, they have placed billboards around Glasgow, notably in front of the Barrowland Ballroom, which feature Frightened Rabbit lyrics and encouraged people to donate to the charity.

In addition to this, the signed Chewbacca mask that Lewis Capaldi wore at TRNSMT was auctioned off for £7,401, with all proceeds going to Tiny Changes.

Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley also brought attention to the charity in the House of Commons in May and encouraged a debate around young people’s mental health.

In July 2019, the album Tiny Changes was released. Initially intended to be released in 2018 as a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight, the album consists of covers performed by other bands.

Contributors included Biffy Clyro, Daughter, Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, and The Twilight Sad. Hutchison was personally involved in the production of the album before his death and a large portion of the proceeds from album sales will go to the Tiny Changes charity.

Every artist featured has put their own spin on a song that they admire, which has resulted in a record of songs that range from uplifting to haunting.

Highlights include Benjamin Gibbord’s Keep Yourself Warm and Bright Pink Bookmark by The Philistines Jr.

Both are slowed down, carefully crafted, softer versions, which bring a new take to the song and emanate respect for the originals.

The Twilight Sad had the hard job of covering Floating In The Forth, a song which expressed Scott Hutchison’s suicidal thoughts.

To say they did a remarkable job would be an understatement – it’s a heartbreaking, haunting tribute to a friend lost too soon and it doesn’t hold back in showing it.

All in all, Tiny Changes is a beautiful album.

Frightened Rabbit have done the remarkable – they’ve taken a tragedy and used it to help other people. This album isn’t just a celebration of a successful record, it’s a celebration of what Scott Hutchison was able to do with his life.

It’s a tribute to the influence that his music had on his friends and fans. It’s an emotional collaboration and, if this is the end for Frightened Rabbit, it’s a fitting send-off.

This album captures the spirit of the charity and the message of the lyric that named it – ‘while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to the world.’

Image Credit: BBC

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