With Frightened Rabbit releasing new album Painting Of A Panic Attack last week (8 April), we invited frontman Scott Hutchison to pen a guest column for Q. His response this issue with a tree, or more pertinently "an interview with Brian (pictured above), an oak tree who lives in the Sutton Coldfield area." over to you Scott...
Hi Brian. It's a real pleasure to speak to you. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. The pleasure is all mine. As you may have guessed, I don't get the opportunity to speak to anyone, ever. There have been various saplings that have cropped up beside me over the years, but my own gluttonous need for nutrients and water ended up killing them all off. You have to look out for "number one" in these situations.
I can imagine. Doesn't it get lonely out here though? I think I've simply tried to re-channel that feeling of isolation over the past 100 years or so. It used to be very difficult, as from where I stand I can see an entire forest of very similar trees all bunched together, creaking and whispering away to each other day and night. I used to feel terribly left out, wondering "why me? Why was I that acorn?" In the end, I had to develop a sense of pragmatism about the whole situation. What if you got stuck next to an absolute arsehole of an alder, or worse still a prick of a hawthorn bush? No no, not for me. I like my own space now.
If anything, the solitude lends you a majesty that none of those forest trees could hope to achieve. In many ways, you are a classic tree. How does that make you feel? Thank you, that's very kind. It's not something I've thought about too much, but I have spent my whole life trying to grow and develop in a meaningful manner in order to make my mark on this small patch of English countryside. I almost got to be the Six Feet Under Tree, you know. There were Americans swarming, absolutely fucking swarming around me for 3 or 4 weeks, taking pictures and discussing my hairstyle. In the end it went to some lass who lives near Chepstow. I'm not bitter, she did some great, great work there. With this interview I hope I can help other trees in my situation to feel a sense of pride. I think there's a tendency for people to overlook us because we've just always been there. I'd love to live in a society where people think trees are better than phones, though I fear it's increasingly unlikely.
How do you feel about the advance of modern technology? Particularly those aspects which are destroying nature's wonders such as yourself? Look, I can't stop it from happening because I have no voice and I wouldn't get asked on to Channel 4 news with a face like this, but it's a fucking atrocious state of affairs. I don't really come into contact with the modern world very often, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I could do something about it. The ramblers are fine, they tend to just stare at me me and all the birds who bob about in my hair and then they move on. But some folks can't help taking a daft gurning picture or mucking about at the base of the trunk. I've only just grown out the "Sam Hayes Is A Dik" that was etched into my bark in 1997.
Ok, how do you know about Channel 4 news? Ramblers.
Of Course. Looking back, do you have any regrets about your life? None at all. It's hard to feel regret when there's so little you can actually do. It's an odd situation to be in though, to be doing almost nothing but then at the same time be doing a lot - the old carbon dioxide and sulphur eating, I've heard that's very important. Most of the people appear to think it's not that important at all, which is strange as you seem to rely quite heavily on air.
We do, and it's becoming a bit of a problem in certain places. I've heard about this, and I can't help but feel that it's a little bit vile of you all. Sorry to sound so rude, but you're not the only organism on the planet for fucksake. I'm doing my bit, those fuckers in the forest are doing their bit. Imagine not only providing air, but being a habitat to thousands of other living things. Think about that next time you complain about your shitty couch that makes your back itch. It all goes back to something we touched on before... Nobody really pays me any attention, and I don't mean that to sound woeful, it's the truth. Nobody looks for longer than 5 minutes and then by the time they are home from whatever they've been doing out here, I'm probably gone. Same goes for almost every tree out there. I've had lots of time to think over the last couple of hundred years. I feel like you don't do enough of that. Thinking. Most of your thought goes into fixing the problems you created in the first place. You are the worst species on earth.
Oh, Brian, I am so sorry you feel that way. We have done some good things though, and in some ways we can't help that our evolution has brought us here. I understand. You have big complex head-brains. But from what I can gather you also have very greedy head-brains. God, if I had half the opportunities you've had in life. What's chocolate like?
It's really nice. That's what I thought. Confusing for me though as it did initially look like the eating of turds.
Some of them do resemble those, yes. What has been your favourite moment over the years, Brian? Your absolute favourite? For some time, a family would visit. Just three of them: man, woman and child. I couldn't tell you what type of child it was, maybe a man also. They would bring a picnic of the same things - pineapple, cheddar cheese, pickled silverskin onions, wafers, lemony water. All very decadent. They were a lovely couple, so caring and I felt like they really understood me too. And do you know why they visited so often? Because the two of them slept with each other here once. I got to watch. That was my favourite moment.
Moving on to my final question... do you think now is the best time to be alive? Now is always the best time to be alive, my good man. There are moments we should live in fully as they happen, without distraction from outside forces or our own worries cracking away at us from the inside. Do more of that living, I say! Look around you for a minute and take something tiny with you, rather than remembering the Taj Mahal and nothing else. I see it so very rarely in someone's eyes when they look at me. I can tell they're taking me home, even though I'm really no more remarkable than anything else out here. Today, take something tiny home. Maybe even tell someone else about it. I think this is how you set of shits will make the world better.
Thank you Brian. That was strange. I know. Scott Hutchison @owljohn
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