Scott Hutchison has made some of the most stirring, vulnerable indie rock out there as the frontman and primary songwriter for Frightened Rabbit. As strong as the Scottish outfit’s catalog has been, however, there are sides of his music that Hutchison can’t explore within the confines of the group. Thus he launched his Owl John moniker in 2014, and now he’s formed a new band called Mastersystem.
The project is something of a supergroup, featuring Hutchison’s brother and Frightened Rabbit drummer Grant, Justin Lockey of Editors, and his brother, James Lockey of Minor Victories. As Mastersystem, they put an aggressive edge on Hutchison’s ever-evocative lyricism with their debut album, Dance Music.
Out April 6th via Physical Education Recordings, the seeds of Dance Music were first planted back in 2016 during a meeting between the brothers in Berlin. The members of Mastersystem see the LP as launching not a side-project, but a fully realized band that will serve as an extension of their creative energies beyond their mainstay outfits.
Speaking with Stereogum about the themes behind the record, Hutchison said,
“I thought it would be interesting to play around with the themes of restlessness and dissatisfaction on this album, both as a counterpoint to the exuberance of the music and as an obvious reference to the angst and tension I heard in the grunge and fuzz of my teenage years. This is not the angst of a teenager, however. This is the anxiety of a man in his mid-30s, and for a lot of this record I found myself wrestling with the ways in which I am not quite doing life right, in spite of appearing to lead a relatively joyful, playful and artistic existence.”
To be fair, that doesn’t sound too far off from what he’s long done in Frightened Rabbit, and the debut Mastersystem single, “Notes on a Life Not Quite Lived”, even feels like a Rabbit track at first. Once the overdrive is turned up on the guitars and the drums crack out like gun shots, however, the song reveals itself to be far grittier than anything Hutchison has been involved with before. Take a listen below.
Mastersystem will unveil their live show with a brief run of UK shows come April. Check out the docket below.
Mastersystem 2018 Tour Dates:
04/25 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
04/26 – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK @ The Cluny
04/27 – Glasgow, UK @ The Art School
04/28 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
04/30 – Birmingham, UK @ Birmingham O2 Institute 3
05/01 – London, UK @ Oslo