Travis back in the driving seat with new album Everything At Once
Travis have realised the true definition of success... balance, wellbeing and time for the important stuff. Fran Healy and Dougie Payne talk to Andy Welch about their new album, catchy tunes and being rock star dads
TRAVIS have entered the 'second half' of their career. With their upcoming eighth album, Everything At Once, they are some way to completing the dozen albums they predicted they would way back in 1997, when they released their debut, Good Feeling.
"I think we'll get to 12 and be upset we have to finish, so we'll do 16," says frontman Fran Healy. "If we pace it right, we can do it. Set yourself a sensible goal: 12 albums is a decent career."
"That's a good brick of CDs on the shelf," adds bass player Dougie Payne. It's hard to imagine old friends Healy, Payne, guitarist Andy Dunlop and drummer Neil Primrose doing anything other than being in Travis. As Payne points out, it's been "20 years now, and 25 or so as mates".
The new album comes just under three years after 2013's Where You Stand. When Healy turns to what it was like making Everything At Once, he describes how creating their previous record was like getting an old car out of storage in the garage, taking off the tarpaulin, making sure everything still works before starting the engine and giving the paint a good polish.
"This time, it was like starting off with the engine running and all of us sitting in the car already," he says.
Payne says it was also reminiscent of the The Man Who (1999), their second album – and the record that catapulted Travis into the stratosphere, with sales of around three million in the UK alone.
"Back then, we'd write a bit, then record, then go away and write some more, then go into the studio again, rather than doing it in a big block, and that's what we did this time," he explains.
Everything At Once clocks in at around 34 minutes. The songs are so short that their radio promoter asked to have some extra material added to single 3 Miles High.
"It's probably the only incidence of a radio edit of a song being longer than the version on the album," says Payne.
Being on the radio is a big deal for Travis, Healy in particular, who still believes it's the best way to discover new music.
"Despite all the things that we have, Spotify and YouTube and whatever, radio is key," he says. "All the new things have their place, but radio broadcasts all the time, and it's curated by humans.
"I have radio on all the time at home in Berlin, and it's sometimes different music in Germany, but things will catch my ear and I turn it up to find out what it is. We all love that, and music still has that lovely invisible quality, where you don't need to see what it looks like, just what it sounds like."
Similarly, Healy says he always has an ear on what will make a good single. It's clearly something he's very good at. The Man Who, and third album The Invisible Band, spawned huge hit singles including Driftwood, Writing To Reach You, Sing, and – of course – Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
"I like to write songs that get stuck in my head," says Healy. "I start with a 10-second thing that I roll out into a whole song. When someone's walking down the street, they're only singing eight seconds of a song. I'm not trying to write 'radio songs' as such, but that's the way I work."
While they might not be as huge a name now as they were in the late 90s and early noughties, they're quite happy with how things have panned out.
"When we were massive, I was miserable," says Healy, 42. "It was too much work. But we've never felt as in-shape as we are now, in terms of the music and the state of the band.
"What you deem ‘success' changes. We've won the Brit awards and sold millions of records. But you get that and think, 'I don't feel successful; I never have a minute to myself'.
"To us, balance is success. Balancing it all, allowing the craziness, but also other things. All four of us now have kids – so we have to allow time for that.
"We have the band to look after, but we also have real-life kids to look after – the most important thing.”
:: Everything At Once will be released on April 29. For tour updates, see www.travisonline.com.