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Saturday, October 11, 2008, 03:27 PM ( 1597 views ) - Interviews - Posted by Administrator
I first heard Travis when I came across their song Why Does It Always Rain on Me? – it was in an episode of East Enders and Ian Beale was in a car, processing the discovery of his wife’s affair. It was raining. Perhaps it’s a strange way to discover a band but I have found EastEnders features many bands I have come to love. The Man Who, which came out in 1999 was actually Travis’ second album and it was obviously glorious. As good as Why Does It Always Rain on Me? is the album also featured The Fear and one of the most beautiful songs I suspect I will ever hear, Luv. Travis’ first album, Good Feeling, included All I Want to Do is Rock – still a great anthem – and Tied to the 90s. Tied to the 90s they aren’t, they’re more tied to being Travis and thank the heavens they’ve maintained their strengths through the new millennium. The Invisible Band and 12 Memories are brilliant albums as well – though perhaps 12 Memories had its detractors it’s my favorite Travis album in totality. Peace the Fuck Out indeed. 2007 saw the release of The Boy With No Name, a superbly charming panache with Closer and the stomper Selfish Jean. Now Travis has released Ode to J. Smith and struck out on their own with Red Telephone Box Records. It’s out now in the UK and will be released in the States on November 4th. You can hear several songs off it on their myspace page. They have succeeded again.

I talked with Fran Healy and Dougie Payne before their show at the Moore in 2007. It was before Healy moved to Berlin and Payne and wife, actress Kelly Macdonald became parents to Freddie Peter Payne. I wanted to find out what they thought about their home Glasgow, their new Prime Minister Gordon Brown . . . and how exactly these guys all found each other.

Q: You were a scout when you were a kid?

Dougie Payne: Yes, I was! What on earth brought that up? Have you been looking at Wikipedia?

Q: So you learned how to do all the survival things?

DP: Yes I did. It’s funny, I was talking about this to my nephew the other day – he’s a scout now. I was asking him, what kind of stuff do you do? It seemed like it was hardcore when I was a scout compared to now – now it’s all trips abroad and going to Prague. When I was in it, it was sitting in the wet in the West Coast of Scotland and skinning rabbits. And sticking sticks up their asses to roast them over the fire. It was all pretty hardcore – maybe that was just growing up in the 80s - none of this nanny state that goes on now.

Q: They wanted to toughen you up right away.

DP: Exactly. It didn’t work.

Q: I just thought it was cute, they sent you out there to learn to survive on your own.

DP: As an eleven-year-old. They left us on an island once, a tiny little rock in the middle of the North Sea. They left us for two days to fend for ourselves, just the six of us. I remember that, that was good fun.

Q: That’s scary.

DP: It was good. Perfect training for going on tour.

Dougie Payne - Seattle 2007 - photo by Dagmar

[Fran Healy joins us.]

Q: I was just grilling Dougie on how he used to be a scout.

Fran Healy: He was. People love that - people love the scouts.

DP: Until quite late . . . until I was about 15.

FH: That’s quite impressive.

Q: You two met in school?

DP: Just after school . . . just before art school. So we were 17.

FH: Dougie knew Neil [Primrose], our drummer. He worked with Neil in a shoe shop.

DP: A scout shoe shop.

FH: Neil worked in a bar in Glasgow called the Horseshoe Bar and I used to go in there after school. I knew Dougie independently of Neil and Neil knew Dougie independently of me. Neil didn’t know you knew me and you didn’t know Neil knew me.

DP: Fran and I met just before you went for the audition for Glass Onion [Travis’ former name] –

FH: No, I went for that the day we matriculated in the art school. I met you way before that, like a year before that.

DP: That’s right, because Neil was working in the shoe shop and he said, we’ve got a singer coming in to audition. He was going on about this band, Glass Onion all the time. He was always playing with things that looked like drumsticks in the storeroom. He was always going on about Glass Onion, how we’re going to audition this singer who’s really good. And then I slowly put two and two together – it’s the same guy.

FH: The first week of art school Dougie and Andy got matey.

DP: They were giving away pound a pint Guinness and me and Andy got drunk and talking about the Monkees. We kind of all met each other very independently.

FH: I was in this band [with] Andy, myself and two brothers, eventually – five years later we got rid of the two brothers and Dougie came in. As soon as Dougie came in it became – it wasn’t a band that had advertised for anyone. It was just suddenly four mates. That was the keystone of the band, four friends. The weirder thing is that Dougie and Andy’s fathers go back twenty years – without them realizing.

DP: Me and Andy didn’t notice but they were both bank managers in different banks. Before they were bank managers they were clerks in different banks on the same street. Andy’s dad and my dad used to go for lunch together back in the 60s, when they were about our age when we met.

Q: How tough a city is Glasgow?

FH: Now I don’t think it’s any tougher than any other city. Every city’s got its –

DP: Glasgow is a bit fucking crazy though. Honestly I am not putting any bad adverts out but you and I both know people who have been punched or slashed out on the street. I haven’t heard of that anywhere –

FH: In London.

DP: I don’t know anyone in London that I personally know that’s been – maybe it’s because London is a bigger city.

FH: It’s got a reputation that stems from the 60s. Places like Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield . . .they’re all places that are traditionally working class and not particularly wealthy. They’re based on heavy industry, like Sheffield and steelworks. When the heavy industry leaves there seems to be a build up of testosterone. Maybe it comes out in ways that it shouldn’t. There are aspects of it [Glasgow] that are tough but it’s a great city.

DP: It’s a brilliant city.

FH: I think it’s definitely becoming more civilized.

Q: I was impressed when you had those terrorists drive into the airport and people started beating them up.

FH: That’s Glasgow. That’s quite Glasgow. There’s a website dedicated to one of those guys called Only in Glasgow would people actually run towards . . .

DP: Try to get a boot in. You come to Glasgow and you’re not going to get away with that. I like that attitude towards terrorism.

Fran Healy - Seattle 2007 - photo by Dagmar

Q: Fran, I read you’re planning to move to Germany.

FH: Yeah, to Berlin. My wife is German and I want to change the backdrop. We thought Berlin would be a good place. New York was a place we were going to go to but before we go there we’re going to Berlin. It’s closer to our mothers and the boy’s grandmothers. New York’s just too far away.

Q: How’s being a dad changed you?

FH: It makes me want to work harder. I enjoy my job more. I feel more mature – but that might have nothing to do with being a father. It might just be to do with being 34-years-old and having been doing this job for 10 years. All I know that as a father, as a parent, it’s great. It’s a pleasure watching someone grow up and to be there for them and not judge them. Let them become who they’re going to become. Obviously they’re going to pick up traits of you and other people. It’s such a nice thing to see.

Q: Dougie do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?

DP: No, Kel was quite keen to know. She wanted to know if she was having a boy – she said she wanted to know if she’s got wee balls. But then a friend of mine said, don’t find out - it’s the only time in your life that you get to meet somebody with absolutely no preconceptions whatsoever. I told Kel that and she was like, that’s quite good.

Q: I read you like to test music on kids?

FH: I was kind of worried at first because I would play Clay music and he would just sit, motionless. He wouldn’t move a muscle when he listened to music – for a year. For over a year he had no reaction to music. If he had a reaction it was to sit really still – almost in a trance. Now he’s started to dance and I think he’s started to sing. Anything melodic on the radio that comes on he goes, Paba. I’m Paba.

DP: Like Robbie Williams.

FH: Robbie Williams came on the radio and I was like, son – no! I was thinking last night actually about how when I grew up I didn’t have any musical instruments around me and I gravitated towards them. To do music as a career it’s a whole different ball game but just playing an instrument . . . if you’ve always got them around you, you will gravitate towards them. When I was first gravitating towards them it was always this thing you couldn’t get. There was always this guitar and it was always in a window or in a catalog.

Q: How is Gordon Brown doing?

DP: We don’t really know at the moment because we’ve been away for months. In general I think he’s great. I really like him. I met him once at a premiere of one of my wife’s films and I thought he was fantastic. I thought he was the exact opposite of the way he’s portrayed in the British media. He’s portrayed as very dour and very serious and not particularly charming. He is incredibly charismatic, very intelligent, really charming and a really nice guy. He’s got a lovely way about him. During the Blair years – which were full of optimism and playing with the media and all that I feel like there’s a grown up in charge again rather than a celebrity. I don’t want a celebrity running the country, I want a decent politician. He seems like a pretty decent guy.

For more photos of their show at the Moore, click here.

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