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12th May 2018

Scott Hutchison turned his agony into art and left us with masterpieces

Rest in peace, Scott

Darragh Murphy

When some people are sad, they pop on a bit of Bob Marley to cheer themselves up.

I’ve never been one of those people.

I’m the type of person who wants to know that there are other people out there who struggle to cope with the difficulties of life and that I’m not the only one who self-loathes from time to time.

My hero hated himself. But I loved him so fucking much.

Scott Hutchison lost his battle with mental illness this week and there have been relatives’ deaths that have affected me less because this man, this genius, this previously open book full of the most visceral language that’s ever been scribbled has been closed forever.

Hutchison had his demons. He suffered for several years with depression and music was his therapy. And we can count ourselves so lucky that we got to eavesdrop on his therapy sessions because Hutchison’s transference of his agony into a portfolio of unvarnished masterpieces will go down as one of the most beautifully honest catalogues that’s ever been left behind.

Hutchison’s lyrics saved me on more occasions than I’d like to admit to because I’m not brave or articulate enough to do what he did, which was to express his true emotions without any sense of embarrassment or fear of being judged.

With The Midnight Organ Fight, Hutchison painted a literally perfect portrait of a break-up and he didn’t have to try to fabricate the heartbreak, the guilt, the anxiety around a lost partner moving on or the universal desire to feel love. He felt it and that cocktail of emotions made him contemplate suicide as far back as 2008.

“Now we’re unrelated and rid of all the shit we hated but I hate when I feel like this and I never hated you,” he sang on Poke, a line which reduced more audience members than not to tears every time I’ve seen Frightened Rabbit perform live.

Hutchison gave us an eerie premonition of his untimely passing one song later, when he told us how “fully clothed, I’ll float away, down the Forth, into the sea.”

His body was found close to Forth Road Bridge in Edinburgh on Thursday after he went missing in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“Is there peace beneath the roar of the Forth Road Bridge?”

I truly hope Scott has found peace because he clearly couldn’t find it in life, in spite of the success of his band and the near-unprecedented level of fan adoration.

Scott seemingly didn’t have a Scott in his life. He’s saved me from doing so many stupid things in mine. And the fact that he felt that the only option was to take his own life has broken my heart more than any of the break-ups or periods of hopelessness that he helped me through.

His self-loathing was laid bare in an alcohol-induced Twitter rant in 2016, when Scott’s brutally honest take on his own success let his fans know that his lyrics weren’t brain-stormed by bandmates or shoehorned for a handy rhyme.

He really couldn’t see what a wonderful gift he had.

“Turns out I’m a complete arsehole. It’s important that everyone knows. I’m not a particularly good person. So don’t buy my records,” he wrote in a series of tweets that have since been deleted.

“I’ve really hurt people who are in my life and then made records out of that turmoil, when it was entirely my fault anyway.

“So I’d urge you to forget about the band, it’s a complete farce. I don’t deserve any of the things that have benefitted (sic) my life.

“Goodbye to Frightened Rabbit. All it has ever been is me boring people with lies and making creative currency out of other people’s hurt.”

Scott Hutchison was a lovely, lovely man, in spite of his own opinion of himself.

I only had the privilege of meeting him once, when he stayed long after a gig in Dublin to chat to fans while his bandmates waited behind him.

He was giddy with the energy that he’d been given by 800 sweaty people with whom every wailed word resonated and he mocked the early stages of my pathetic attempt at a Movember moustache. But he was so conscious of letting me know that he was only joking and he put his arm around me, warmly. We were both really drunk and I asked him some stupid question about what Frightened Rabbit tattoo I should get. He considered the question and gave an honest answer because he was someone who couldn’t help but tell the truth.

There was no fan too eager and no request too many for Scott. He took the piss, he listened to why Frightened Rabbit meant so much to each of us and he tried so hard to let our love in.

He was one of us.

But Scott was very unwell. And song titles on the three albums that Frightened Rabbit released after The Midnight Organ Fight made it clear that suicide was always in his thoughts. An Otherwise Disappointing Life, I Wish I Was Sober, Swim Until You Can’t See Land and Nitrous Gas all alluded to suicidal thoughts.

His Plathian obsession with death and suicide should have made it less of a surprise when he bid us farewell with a typically unpretentious four-word message earlier this week.

However, it was surprising, for me at least. Because I didn’t want to believe that we’d ever lose him.

But at what point does it become selfish to enjoy the art that is influenced by a person’s inner turmoil and why should we have expected him to keep soldiering on through his suffering so that we’d have another gorgeous album to enjoy?

Scott Hutchison poured everything he had into his music and if you’ve not listened to Frightened Rabbit then I would urge you to do so.

I owe so much to Scott and his words have guided so many people like me through stages which might have otherwise ended in tragedy.

I just wish he knew how much he meant to us.