HOW are you? It's the first thing I ask. For once it's not an idle question. The four men who entered Glasgow's Glad Café just a few minutes before, look at me and then at each other.

"Yeah, yeah," Grant Hutchison begins, "just doing what we can to get on." The other members of Frightened Rabbit nod their heads.

Spring 2019 and so much has changed. It is now almost 14 months since the band's front man Scott Hutchison, Grant's brother, disappeared from a hotel in South Queensferry last May. His body was found in the Firth of Forth a few days later, a tragic full stop to the story of the band.

In his candid, sometimes painful lyrics, the 36-year-old singer had never disguised his struggles with depression, his vulnerability, his fragile, at times damaged humanity. In the song Floating in the Forth he had even contemplated floating away down the river. Years later he lived the song out.

How do those who are left behind deal with all of this? That is what his younger brother Grant, the band’s drummer, and his friends and band mates Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell have been trying to answer in the weeks and months since.

This morning Hutchison, Kennedy, Monaghan and Liddell come into the café, embrace warmly like the old friends they are and sit down to talk about the last year and the singer who was their friend.

The four of them are here today because there is a new album to promote. Tiny Changes sees bands including Biffy Clyro, Daughter and Manchester Orchestra, all friends of the Frightened Rabbit, cover songs from the Scottish band’s breakthrough 2008 album Midnight Organ Fight.

Twilight Sad cover the aforementioned Floating in The Forth. Lauren Mayberry, of Chvrches, teams up with The National's Aaron Dessner on Who'd You Kill Now? And both Biffy and Julien Baker cover The Modern Leper.

"It was all done before Scott died, so he'd been as much a part of putting it together as we had," explains Hutchison. Scott had heard every song, and came up with the artwork for what was planned as a 10th-anniversary celebration of the album

"It was meant to come out at the end of last summer," Hutchison continues. "That was the original plan. Obviously, releasing it last year didn't feel right but it was something that we always knew would come out. It's just the 11th anniversary."

"It's something that we're keen for people to be clear about," Liddell adds, "understanding that Scott was fully involved in it."

Ask for a favourite cover and they all come up with a range of answers. Daughter's take on Poke, Right On Dynamite's version of Fast Blood and I Feel Better by Oxford Collapse all get mentions.

"I think for me it was hearing Biffy Clyro tearing apart Modern Leper," suggests Andy Monaghan. "I was on my couch laughing, thinking 'this is ridiculous, but I love it.' They condensed the original track as a sample on it."

And Scott? Did he express a preference? The American singer Julien Baker, they all agree.

Scott, inevitably, is the present absence in the conversation today. He is the reason these four know each other. He shaped the lives they all have led over the last decade. Their story is intertwined with his. So much so that it's impossible to disentangle.

For Grant Hutchison that probably goes without saying, but for Liddell and Monaghan their musical lives were mostly spent with Scott. Billy Kennedy's memories go back even further, to their Selkirk school days.

"I think I was second year in high school. I just remember seeing his dark eyes. He might have been head boy. He was the guy with authority in school. His artwork was everywhere in the art department. And then watching him play guitar on stage at lunch time – I must have been 13, 14 at the time – and seeing him play a Jimi Hendrix cover and watching him in awe. ‘Wow, that guy can play guitar. 'I want to know that guy. I'll get to know his brother.'"

They all have such stories.

"I went to a Frightened Rabbit show with my sister who at the time was a music promoter,” recalls Liddell. “I went to a show in Fury Murray’s in Glasgow. It would have been a two-piece, Scott and Grant. Billy was in the audience along with me and my sister and I think that was it. And this friend Dean. Four people. And it was amazing."

"They were supposed to have sold 100 tickets," Grant adds. We had sold three. I don't even know if you bought a ticket, " he says to Liddell.

"We were on the guest list."

"So that's one ticket. In the end we did play."

This morning they can recall the good times. The drunken after-show parties, the time they got pelted with Hobnobs because Scott had encouraged fans to bring biscuits to gigs, the time he threw his hat at a drone at a festival and got thrown out.

What was he like as a brother, Grant? "He was a bit of a clype," he says. "He's the middle brother. Neil and I are quite explosive personalities. Short fuses, I guess. And Scott would just set up this situation for us to collide, light both our fuses and then just sit back and watch the fireworks display and then sneak off without getting into trouble.

"If anything did happen that involved him, he would just run straight to mum and grass on us."

He smiles at the memory, then moves forward in time. "But genuinely seeing him on stage, even for me, was quite a powerful thing. Seeing someone have that control over a crowd. I found his in-between song chat as funny as the crowd. I thought he was hilarious."

"He was so comfortable and natural on stage that it wasn't in any way detached from his personality," Liddell says. "If he was feeling down then it would be a quiet show. People were getting an accurate reflection of his personality."

"That's the reason people liked the band," agrees Hutchison. "There were definitely occasions he had to pull himself together and put on a face like we all do.

"My best memories were being on stage with him. There was a Scott who I was in a band with, and Scott my brother. But being on stage, weirdly, was where we both felt at home."

Home enough for Scott to sing the most revealing songs. It would be impossible to listen to a Frightened Rabbit record – whether it be Midnight Organ Fight or 2016’s Painting of a Panic Attack – and not know what the singer was feeling. The latter included a song entitled I Wish I Was Sober.

"I guess not many people were as open and frank," Scott’s brother admits. "A lot of people who are maybe going through something will cover it with metaphors and keep it a bit more abstract. It's great, but even hearing those demos was like, 'Oh shit, are you OK?'

"Obviously, I saw him going through these things on a personal level so it was quite difficult to hear."

"I guess he knew that the subject would affect people in his life," Monaghan suggests. "It's weighty."

Inevitably, when they talk about Scott, all four of them slip between the present tense and the past. A symptom of grief's mundane unreality.

How, I ask, have they themselves got through the last year? "I don't think there's a way to do it," admits Hutchison. "I don't think there is an explanation of how to get through it. If someone was to ask me, 'what do I do for the first year?' I don't know. I still don't know. The first few months, especially, were a blur.

"Trying to be with friends, trying to be around people as much as I can. And just getting through each day or week, I guess. Initially, it was getting through each hour.

"It's been weird. Still, to be honest, it doesn't feel that real. It feels like some kind of movie and someone's going to go, 'Ah, got you. It didn't happen.'"

It’s a dream he’s had a few times, he admits. He's also had counselling, and that's helped. "And being open and honest with people. And having these guys, knowing that they've gone through it as well."

The strange, sad, disorientating thing about grief is the realisation that the clocks don’t stop, the dogs still bark. Life continues. Sometimes that’s a solace.

"I got married last year and that was pretty great," Hutchison says. "Having an amazing, supportive wife has just been vital. I couldn't have done it without her strength."

But, he adds, there is no end to what they've all gone through. "It will never be over. There will never be a point where I go 'OK, I get it now. I know what happened and why it happened and I'm at peace. That will never happen.

"What is life now? How do I live with what happened and how it makes me feel? Because there won't be a morning where I don't wake up and it isn't the first thing I think of."

"We've all had various creative projects throughout the year," says Liddell. "That's been important as a focus. I've done a few other shows, Andy has been working with bands in the studio, Billy's been working and Grant's starting a cider company."

"Trying to," Hutchison says. "I'm actually going to meet a guy after the interview about cider that we made last year. I did a bit of touring with Twilight Sad as a tour manager and that was great because they are good friends and they are a supportive group. But it was odd. I would get chatting to promoters and mention we had been at that venue before and they'd go, 'Oh right, who with?' And I'd mention Frightened Rabbit and they'd all go, 'Oh. Oh.'

"So, I felt, after that, taking a wee step out of music would probably be the best thing for a short while. I felt doing something completely different might be a good idea."

Where does that leave Frightened Rabbit? Does the band still exist? Monaghan says not. "Frightened Rabbit, I would say, is Scott. The songs still exist. The band does not exist."

"I think there will be times when we will have the opportunity to work together as we go along," adds Liddell. "But the band name wouldn't be appropriate."

There will be more Frightened Rabbit music, however. Demos for a new album had been recorded before Scott's death. Some of them even have vocals on them. "That's something we've spoken about revisiting at some point when we feel strong enough to do it," says Hutchison. "Andy did a lot of work on them last year. I couldn't even get through half a song with it. But we'd like to go back to them.

“They're never going to not exist. At some point someone will want to do something with them, and it is better that it is us."

That's a legacy. There are others. Hutchison's family has also launched a mental health charity for young people in Scott's name. "Even if Scott was alive, he would have been fully behind it," his brother says. "He was very open about his own mental health and his struggles with it. He was aware of it in himself growing up where maybe for years it was just put down to shyness or being a scared little boy. The band name came from that. Maybe if there had been more help available ..."

He pauses for a moment. "I've got to admit my own ignorance, having never suffered. And it's almost impossible to get your head around it if you've not experienced it. I think that's what's really important, to get people to educate themselves or help educate people because I wish I'd known. I've read more in the past year than I probably did in the 30 years before it."

As for the four men who once were part of Frightened Rabbit? What is the legacy of the last 10 years for them? What has Scott given them?

"I got the chance to do what I dreamt about as a kid, touring the world with bands," Liddell points out. "That's what he gave me. I can't look at it in terms of a regret that I might not be doing it again with him. The fact that I've done it at all is amazing to me."

"It's important," Billy Kennedy adds, "that the memories are looked on positively by us. If you look back, you can't let your head go to a dark place."

"I was never going to be in a band forever anyway," Hutchison admits. "It's obviously heart-breaking for me that I'm not going to have these life moments with Scott, whether that was in the band or not, but I guess thinking about what I do still have is the only way to really look at it now."

And there is always the music, songs that are a balm for more than just the band.

"That's one thing that's been amazing over the past year," Hutchison agrees, "the way the fans of the band rallied around each other. They made connections across the world. The support we felt from them was great, but I was most buoyed by was the way they looked out for each other.

"I guess that's another thing where Scott's openness comes in. Everyone felt like they knew him and when he died everyone felt the weight in their own way.

"Seeing that, being part of creating a community is almost better than creating an album. It felt fucking brilliant."

Frightened Rabbit made a difference. What better legacy is there than that?

Tiny Changes will be released on Atlantic Records next week. For information about the Tiny Changes mental health charity visit


The National:

Can you remember the first time you heard Frightened Rabbit? What impact did they have on you?

I heard Sing The Greys at a house party and got Midnight Organ Fight when it came out. For someone of that age, who was playing (quite badly) in bands and just learning how to do it, it was really inspiring to hear something to fully realised coming out of where we were from, and lyrically it was unique. It's hard to have an immediately identifiable character, as a singer and a lyricist, and that is something they always had.

What about the first time you met them? What was your immediate impression?

The Scottish music scene is pretty small, so we always had a few people in common. But CHVRCHES did a touring festival with the Rabbits in Australia and that was how I got to know them a bit better. They are every bit as nice as you'd expect. Very genuine, kind people.

When you were approached to get involved with the Tiny Changes album what was your initial reaction?

Grant from the Rabbits mentioned to us that Aaron Dessner had done an arrangement and they were looking for someone to sing on it. Given that we love the Rabbits and The National, and I really admire Aaron as a writer and a musician, it seemed like a no brainer.

You have worked on Who’d You Kill Now, with Aaron. What was the challenge and pleasure of that? What’s your take on that song?

It feels to me like the whole album is part of one narrative arc and each song tells a story. Aaron did an amazing job of maintaining the integrity and meaning of the song whilst still having the music sound and feel like him. I think that's what the best cover songs do – pay homage to the song and add a bit of your own character to it, rather than a straight up karaoke version or an upside-down reinterpretation.