Stendhal Festival of Art returns to Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady, on August 8 and 9 for what promises to be the biggest and best instalment of the award winning Music and Arts Festival and Scott Hutchinson, front man of Frightened Rabbit, says the band can’t wait to get there for their headline slot.
A huge part of their excitement at headlining the festival is that The Scottish indie rockers consider Northern Irish crowds to be as fervent and passionate about their music as their fans in their native Scotland, which always makes for a fantastic live atmosphere any time they play in the province.
“We are really looking forward to Stendhal,” Scott said, “we love coming over to Northern Ireland as for me, the highest compliment I can pay our fans over there is that they are very similar to our fans in Scotland in terms of getting into a gig. Whenever we play there it feels like we are playing at home.
“We are also delighted to be given the opportunity to headline the festival. We love playing the larger festivals like Reading and Leeds but we would much rather headline smaller events such as Stendhal. At some of the bigger events you can feel like you are just on a revolving door of bands, whereas at smaller events, you really get the impression that it matters much more to the guys involved in running the show and they take more time to make you feel valued and as a band it’s great to be a part of that.
“On top of that, by the time we get on stage, everyone will be full of the festival sprit and if our previous gigs in Northern Ireland are anything to go by, that should make for an absolutely brilliant atmosphere.”
It has been a busy summer festival season for Scott as he has not only been touring with Frightened Rabbit, he has been busy over in America making a mark with his solo project ‘Owl John’ and has recently started writing new material for a fifth Frightened Rabbit album.
“I’ve really enjoyed the start of the solo stuff,” Scott said, “it’s a really enjoyable contrast with playing with the band as it means that I have been able go back to much smaller venues and really get engaged with an audience on a much more personal level.
“We do that with Frightened Rabbit but as we have progressed and the venues got bigger, sometimes as a performer you can feel that more social side of being on stage drift away a little bit but with the Owl John shows I get to be right back into the spontaneous and social side of performing.”
As for the new Frightened Rabbit album, Scott said that it is early days in the writing process but he has a clear idea of what he wants the new record to sound like.
“We have been in Wales writing for two weeks and while we are happy enough to go with the flow in terms of the direction of the songs that will be on the album, we do want to make the record sound a bit more raw than Pedestrian Verse, a bit more like it sounds when we play live.
“It will be a case of keeping the key elements of what makes us Frightened Rabbit and what our fans have come to know from us, but we will be looking to have a more stripped back feel to the record and make it a rawer affair.”
Festivals have played a big part in the career of Frightened Rabbit and Scott says that performances at events of such ilk are a great gauge of how a bands career is coming along.
“My favourite festival appearance as a punter or as a performer was at The End of The Road Festival in Dorset.
“It was the first festival we ever played back in 2007, in the smallest tent in front of 100 people.
“We went back there in 2013 and played on the main stage just before one of my favourite bands, Belle and Sebastian, and it was a really good representation of just how far we had come as a band, that gig was an amazing experience and my favourite festival experience to date. Hopefully once all is said and done at Stendhal, there will be contender for that spot.”
As for what fans of the band can expect from their set at Stendhal, Scott confirmed that they will be covering tracks from all four of their albums and that the aim is to produce a high energy performance that will round off Stendhal in style.
“It’s a bit early for any new stuff,” he said, “so people who come along to see us will get a selection of songs that everyone will know from all four of our albums, we’ll be looking to keep the energy up throughout so that the festival finishes on a really upbeat fashion.”
Frightened Rabbit headline Stendhal Festival of Art on Saturday August 9. For more information visit www.stendhalfestival.com