OF all the bands appearing at Belladrum this year, it is perhaps Glasgow’s Frightened Rabbit who have had the longest wait.
Booked to appear at the 2011 festival a clash of dates with a US tour forced Frightened Rabbit to pull out, making their return this weekend something to be all the more anticipated by fans and the band alike.
"It’s important for us to make up for the fact that we had to miss out on last year because we’ve only been once before but we thought it was one of the best festivals we had ever been to. We really liked the atmosphere," frontman Scott Hutchison said.
"There was a good reason, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing for some of our fans. Hopefully we’ll make up for it."
It is also a Scottish festival exclusive for the band, though they do have a few others booked on the other side of the border.
"It makes the whole thing a bit more special," Hutchison agreed.
"It’s a really nice chance to connect with a Scottish audience again because we’ve found ourselves not actually playing as much in Scotland as we used to."
It is not the band’s first Highland visit of the year, though.
Back in spring the group toured the Highlands and Islands to visit towns and villages normally off the track for bands of Frightened Rabbit’s ever growing profile. Places not so very different from Hutchison’s own home town, the Borders town of Selkirk.
"All of us come from relatively small towns and we came from the perspective that if we there what would it be like if one of our favourite bands came to us?" he said.
"We did it and it was everything I thought it would be. Great crowds, really enthusiastic, and really delighted to see the band live."
Growing up in a small town himself, Hutchison knows how difficult it can be to access music, though young people today probably have it easier than he did.
"I’m making myself sound old, but I was growing up in the age before the internet was in everyone’s homes," he said.
"There was a lot less available than kinds have now, but what that gave me as an absolute need to get out. As soon as I was 18 I moved to Glasgow because I had a hunger to go to where stuff was happening. Because kids have the internet, they can hear anything and everything, but I was talking to a friend the other day about how we used to be excited about going through to Galashiels to get the new record that was out. Today you can just get it sitting in your bedroom. Everything’s changed in that way."
Hutchison has had some changes of his own. The band’s name was inspired by his shyness as a child, but he now finds himself regularly in front of hundreds if not thousands of people — the band’s record audience some 80,000 at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
"It’s a strange kind of comfort I get from being in front of large crowds," he said.
"To be honest, in a room full of strangers I still go back into being that introverted wee kid, but put me in front of an audience and I’m pretty much fine. It’s a little bit of an act, maybe but I’ve never really had a problem with being on stage.
"There is a persona there, but I never contrived it. You just switch into it. The guy I am on stage, you couldn’t be that all the time anyway — otherwise you’d have no pals!"
Belladrum also gives Hutchison and the band a chance to get out and about after concentrating on their fourth album.
"Hopefully the whole thing will be done and dusted in a couple of weeks," Hutchison added.
"It’s been a long process and I can’t wait for it to be out."
However, Hutchison is clearly not one of those musicians who regards time in the studio as a necessary evil.
"I would call touring my necessary evil," he laughed.
"I got into this to make albums. A live show can live in the memory, but a recorded product is the thing that lasts most.
"At the same time, if you spend long enough in the studio you soon find yourself itching to get in a van and play in a muddy field again. By the time we get to Belladrum we’ll definitely be like dogs out of a cage."
This album is also the first where Hutchison is sharing out some of the songwriting duties. Though still taking charge of the lyrics and having the final say, Frightened Rabbit’s other members — his brother Grant, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Gordon Skene — have been taking a larger role in putting the music together.
"If you are a songwriter on your own you can hit that brick wall. It was an effort to avoid seeming like I was going over old ground," he said.
"It feels like a natural change. There’s just more variety in the songs. It’s a wee bit darker and a fair bit more twisted. I think it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve every been involved in and that’s a consequence of the whole band being involved."
However, do not expect much more than the odd hint of the forthcoming album during tomorrow’s set.
Hutchison admits he does not like it himself when he goes to a festival and a band’s set is composed entirely of less familiar numbers.
"I think we’ll stick to the ones people know well," he said.
"You are there to give people a good time and that’s the way to do it."
• Frightened Rabbit appear on Belladrum’s Garden Stageon Saturday 4th August.