click here for more
click here for more
Interview: French For Rabbits Chat About New EP 'In The End I Won’t Be Coming Home'

Interview: French For Rabbits Chat About New EP 'In The End I Won’t Be Coming Home'

Chris Cudby / Photo credit: Samuel Austin / Friday 24th November, 2023 10:18AM

Te Whanganui-a-Tara's French For Rabbits mark just over a decade of dreamy releases and overseas adventures together with their new In the End I Won’t Be Coming Home EP, out today in a limited vinyl LP edition also including their 2012 debut collection Claimed by the Sea. Both were recorded with Lee Prebble at The Surgery, neatly bookending founding songwriter Brooke Singer and guitarist John Fitzgerald's remarkable wending journey with FFR so far. Written with The Black Quartet's contributions in mind, Elliot Vaughan and Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper's string arrangements on In the End I Won’t Be Coming Home synergise with Penelope Esplin, Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa, Phoebe Johnson, and Rachelle Eastwood's immaculate instrumentation to evoke vast emotions and dramatic landscapes. 

With a video for the title track to In the End I Won't Be Coming Home also out now, "made on a shoe string with our wonderful friend Bill (Bycroft)", Singer kindly answered our nosy questions about the new record and more. Don't miss FFR playing a joint release show with Portland songwriter Brandon de la Cruz (who launched his latest album Two Kilos of Blue in August) at the capital's Futuna Chapel, plus go catch Singer playing the Home Alone Music Presents: Start Of Summer Mini-fest with an all-star cast on 2nd December...

French For Rabbits and Brandon de la Cruz
Saturday 25th November - Futuna Chapel, Wellington
Tickets available HERE via UTR

Home Alone Music Presents: Start Of Summer Mini-fest #9
featuring... Timothy Blackman, Re:ruby, Mystery Waitress, Lake South, Kate Uhe (City Oh Sigh), Brooke Singer (French for Rabbits)
Saturday 2nd December - Southern Cross Scout Hall, Wellington

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Chris Cudby: Were these new songs on In the End I Won’t Be Coming Home written specifically with the Black Quartet's string contributions in mind?

Brooke Singer: The string quartet collaboration first started out as an idea for a concert series. I had a cup of tea with Gretchen La Roche (formerly leading Chamber Music NZ) and mentioned I’d begun writing these romantic, wandering tunes on the piano. I was interested in expanding the sound-world by exploring all the expressive characteristics of strings in a live setting.

We performed the concerts featuring these new songs alongside previous material reinterpreted with strings in September, and before this we went into the studio to make the EP. Particularly on the title track and also for 'Baring Head' we wrote our band arrangements around the string parts — as we wanted to give plenty of space for Elliot Vaughan to develop the string parts to play a leading role. Often in an indie/pop setting — strings serve as textural beds, but we wanted them to be much more exciting!

The strings act as a swift river, ocean swells, blustery winds, the dawn chorus and more within these songs.

The four song EP is such a neat, well-rounded format — it was a favourite of Flying Nun Records acts in the '80s and early '90s. What lyrical concerns thread through In the End I Won’t Be Coming Home?

I love how concise it is — sometimes it is all you need. To be honest though, we just couldn’t afford to record anything more... maybe that was the case back then, too!

Each song is different — some of it is a bit dark, retrospectively, but songwriting and the subconscious go hand in hand. It can be like divining or dreaming. 'Baring Head' is about the value of art and was written out at the lighthouse the song is named after, one of the songs is set on a subway, one journeys across the Atlantic... so it has some exhilarating moments.

Do you think being based in Wellington has shaped FFR's songwriting and sound in certain ways?

For sure, the wind, damp, bush, birds and winding roads have definitely whittled their way into us. It is a small music community too, and no-one writes in exactly the same way — I think there is freedom in that.

You've paired the new EP with the reissue of your 2012 debut Claimed by the Sea — what qualities tie these two collections together? Both were recorded with Lee Prebble?

Yes! The two EP’s side by side make for an interesting comparison between our beginnings to where we are now — a decade (eek) on! Both recorded with Lee Prebble (the first in his old studio). Although we’ve recorded in Lee’s studio a bunch since our first EP, this was our first record since then mixed by Lee. He is a very reassuring presence.

I seem to recall for the first EP, we kind of threw together a ramshackle band not long before getting into the studio — so it is charmingly rough around the edges. On this one, we were more prepared but I also didn't want to overthink it, so we recorded and mixed it over a handful of days and every element could be played live on stage by the band.


French For Rabbits' output has been steadily phenomenal over the past decade and a bit. Do you view FRR’s first decade as a linear journey? Looking back can you identify any specific breakthrough moments (artistic or career-wise) for FFR?

I tend to operate on the idea that one should follow their nose, and if things are flowing and you’re excited, then you should keep going in that direction. So, I’m not sure if linear is the right word, maybe we’ve been more like a dog following a scent... often in circles, and mostly towards the most stinky things.

We’ve definitely had our ups and downs and I don’t know if we’ve ever excelled at lucky timing (we released our last album mid the Covid pandemic) but I think what we’ve made music, that sounds distinctively like us.

As far as I can tell, we’ve had just lots of little and nice breakthrough moments — often unexpected. Our European tour with Agnes Obel was a definite highlight, back around the time 'Goat' and 'The Other Side' came out. But so was our first DIY tour, where we stayed at a surf camp in Portugal, and where I found a lovely ukulele that never goes out of tune. This is where we met a lovely friend Nick who booked some of our UK/EU tours, but who sadly passed away unexpectedly. And it also where we met a lovely old man who told us about the local wolves, and showed us his pet chickens.

You'll be performing in trio format for this Saturday's launch event at Futuna Chapel?

That was the original plan — the show is a joint occasion also celebrating our friend Brandon De La Cruz’s new record. It was just going to be the gal gang — myself, Penelope and Phoebe stripping the songs back to acoustic form, but John is going to fly up from Dunedin to join us too. Hikurangi has another show with our friend Jess Cornelius, but we’ll be celebrating the EP together tonight!

We’ve decided to play songs from both EPs – can’t wait. We’re making plans for a handful of shows with a string quartet for the new year (let us know if you'd like us to come your way).

I have heard rapt reports about Brandon de la Cruz's recent live performances. Have FFR played with him before?

We haven’t played together, but I hosted a house concert for Brandon and Mali Mali where we had colour pens and paper, and all sat on cushions in a big old ballroom. His music is so soft and slow and warm — and I can’t wait to hear it wafting up to the ceilings at Futuna.

' In The End I Won’t Be Coming Home' is out today digitally, on compact disc and vinyl LP (with '
Claimed By The Sea') via AAA records — order your copy HERE.


Share this
Subscribe/Follow Us
Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on your favourite platform  

Help Support Independent Music News
You can show your support to keep UnderTheRadar running by making a contribution. From $5, any amount can make a huge difference and keep us bringing you the best, comprehensive local content. ♥
Support UTR!

French for Rabbits and Brandon De La Cruz
Sat 25th Nov 2:00pm
Futuna Chapel, Wellington
Home Alone Music Presents: Start Of Summer Mini-fest #9
Sat 2nd Dec 1:45pm
Southern Cross Scout Hall, Wellington