Bright melodies belie Frightened Rabbit's dark themes 

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A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. The saying explains the modus operandi of Scottish singer-guitarist Scott Hutchison, who dubbed himself Frightened Rabbit when he first started playing solo shows 10 years ago and now fronts a band of the same name. He uses chiming, Snow Patrol-ish melodies throughout the group's recent album, "Pedestrian Verse." The melodies work at odds with dark, often ominous lyrics on songs such as "Dead Now," "State Hospital," "Backyard Skulls" and a sing-song "Late March, Death March." But Hutchison isn't composing to be coy or clever. He writes, he says, because it's his favorite form of communication.

So you were supershy as a kid? Yeah. And that kind of feeling still exists in me today. But it's been drummed out somewhat simply by the job that I have chosen.

Your mother herself nicknamed you Frightened Rabbit. I know! It was serious! It was definitely an affliction and something that concerned my parents for a little while. I mean, I repeated a year of school when I was in kindergarten and then had to really work on my skills from there on.

What were your scariest moments back then? The worst times were when you go with your parents to their friends' house, and they're having a day party or something. And then you have to go and socialize with their children, who are not your friends. So the worst thing was meeting confident children and having no idea how to interact with them. That still gives me a cold sweat — the idea of being thrust into a room full of strange, confident children was a nightmare to me.

You should have that on Frightened Rabbit's tour rider: "No confident children at the meet and greet." Ha! Oh, yeah — absolutely! Strange, confident children? Don't put me anywhere near them. I won't know how to interact.

Was speech class tough? Yeah. There have been many situations well into my adult life which mirror that same day party. However, what I did find gradually was that I was actually all right at addressing groups of people, or entertaining in a slightly less intimate manner. When I was at college, I had to make presentations, and I got pretty good at them. Then I became comfortable performing onstage.

Are there things you discuss in songs that you couldn't, personally? Yeah — most things! Which makes personal relationships sticky sometimes, because these things are being brought up for the first time in a song. There are times when a girlfriend will hear a song and go, "I did not know you thought this. Why didn't you tell me?" And I always say, "Well, I don't know how!"


Frightened Rabbit

Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $25 to $28

Contact: (888) 929-7849,

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Tom Lanham

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