"No one's playing guitars any more, but that doesn't matter and I don't give a shit"
Ahead of their upcoming tour to celebrate their album ‘The Man Who’, Travis frontman Fran Healy has spoken about the album’s legacy, how it inspired Coldplay, and what to expect from their next album. Read our full interview with Healy below.
The 1999 Nigel Godrich album spawned songs including ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ and “Driftwood’ before the Scottish group scooped the BRIT Awards for Best British Album and Best British Band. It spent 11 weeks at No.1 and sold nearly 3million copies, earning them headline slots at Glastonbury and Reading Festival. As well as performing at the Isle Of Wight festival 2018, they’ll be performing the album in full with dates kicking off in early June.
Meanwhile, the band are also about the unveil new documentary ‘Almost Fashionable – A Film About Travis’ – which will debut at The Edinburgh International Film Festival in June this year. Visit here for tickets and more information.
Many of the bands for your era might have disappeared for a while or called it quits to cash in that ‘comeback tour’, but you guys have always been at it….
“We just chip away, which is all you can do. We’re a funny band. I don’t know if it’s because we’re Scottish but it’s just because of how we are. Look at the songs, it’s not like we’re trying to fit in. It was like: ‘Why would you not try and fit in. Come on guys, at least meet us halfway’. But you write a song and it might sound like ‘Remember You’re A Womble’, so you think ‘fuck it, let’s put it out’. We’ve always just followed wherever the wind goes creatively. We’re definitely an odd band when it comes to that sort of thing.”
You’ve never been part of a ‘scene’. You’ve remained very remotely Travis.
“We’re Travis. It’s funny, because the new documentary about us is called ‘Almost Fashionable’, and it kind of touches on a lot of what you’ve just said. I think it’s the closest anyone’s ever got to nailing our band. We’ve been together for 22 years and many people come along and write bits on us and try to nail us. What we’re doing is leaving things in our wake. Leave the record here, we film here, a gig here, and you’re just leaving all these things, maybe someone will find it, it’s a time capsule. I think this is definitely something that’s a nice part of the legacy and I can’t wait for you to see it.”
But you’ve sold a lot of albums. Have you ever heard your influence on other bands?
“No. I don’t listen to enough. I definitely think Coldplay when they first came out, but that was more to do with them being ‘business’. They saw we were the biggest band going around so ate that, took a little bit of that and took a little bit of them. They’ve done that throughout. They’re a bit of Arcade Fire, bit of U2, and now I think recently with the pop music that’s going around, they’ve got Stargate and that sort of thing. I can write a great melody, lets just make this. Lets press it like this because this is what people are listening to right now. They did it with us a different way. A few other bands too, but I don’t really know.”
Is anyone entirely original?
“What’s often overlooked is how massively difficult it is and how massively time consuming it is to find an original topline melody. It’s so so overlooked and the reason why it’s so overlooked is because it’s seen as being naive in some sense of making something different. That’s why we are looked upon like we are, but I challenge any fucking band out there – you come up with an original melody, you try. That’s why these days bands, or rather music, has all gone into production, because it’s really, really hard. There are only a finite number of notes you can put in a certain order, in a certain rhythm, in a certain way.
“When I hear a song I’m like holy shit. If it’s a new band, I’d like to think maybe, they were inspired, not by me, but they are carrying the torch. You’ve got to find a new element, a new melody that no one knows exist yet. That’s more important than one band’s influence there’s probably little pockets of people still trying to chase that elusive little thing.”
What made you want to revisit ‘The Man Who’ in full?
“It’s hard because if you look around at the moment, no one’s playing guitars anymore. That doesn’t matter though and I don’t give a shit. It doesn’t matter what you play – you can play a comb with a toilet paper on it. ‘The Man Who’ was definitely where we were told it the album would be career suicide. We thought we were heading back to Glasgow on a one way ticket to the dole. Everyone was very depressed, especially when the reviews came out for it. It just came to a Spinal Tap moment where you’re sat in the living room going ‘aww it’s going to be great but it’s utter shit’. But it soared. It was accessible and it took people by surprise.
“You’ve got to create your own legacy which is partly the reason why you’ve got to remind people this is a great record – that went out there. Good records will always be good records, shit records will always be shit records. You can’t ever change that. The job of your band is to be proud of what you’ve done. This needs to stay in the air. It’s the equivalent of fluffing up your pillows when you squash them all down. As for the legacy? The jury’s out, but I’m very keen to fluff up the cushions, because it’s very comfy, very still working couch.”
So have you been thinking much about the next album?
“I’ve no idea musically where we’re going, and I never have. We might sound like that when you look at collections of songs. With ‘The Man Who’ it’s like “ooh that’s got a sound”, but it was a moment where the songs all chimed together and all the stars aligned. Looking ahead I just want to write another 12 songs and then go and record them and tour it. The most important thing right now is finishing the film and getting that done and getting that out there. There’s no line between a movie and a song and a drawing or a something you might just say to a friend.”
You’ve moved from Berlin to LA. Is life in America and the social landscape over there likely to shape the new songs?
“There’s a lot of thoughts, I think a lot about that. I’m absolutely sure that LA and all the shit that’s going on will get on there. At the moment of writing ‘12 Memories’, I remember all the anti-war marches. And we all felt so helpless at the time that we could stop this awful war going on. It’s impossible because there’s all these individuals in power, and even billionaires can’t even stop it. I used to think if you had money you could stop it, but I’m losing faith in that. What is your job as a band? You can go out and write protest music and say ‘this is wrong’. You’re like the coal miners’ canary. We need to remember that we need to be a force for good, especially when there’s so much shit going round. Maybe that’s something that’s overlooked.”
Travis tour dates and tickets
As well as performing at Isle Of Wight Festival 2018, the band’s upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.
10 – Liverpool, Philharmonic
12 – London, Royal Festival Hall
13 – London, Royal Festival Hall
14 – Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall
19 – Plymouth, Pavillion
20 – Brighton, Dome
21 – Ipswich, Regent Theatre
25 – Birmingham, Symphony Hall
26 – Oxford, New Theatre
22 –Belfast, Custom House Square
12 – Portsmouth, Guildhall
13 – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
15 – Newcastle, City Hall
17 – Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
18 – Hull, City Hall
19 – Manchester, Apollo
21 – Glasgow, The SSE Hydro