Saturday, October 11, 2008, 03:27 PM ( 1477 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorI first heard Travis when I came across their song Why Does It Always Rain on Me? Ė it was in an episode of East Enders and Ian Beale was in a car, processing the discovery of his wifeís affair. It was raining. Perhaps itís 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 Travisí 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. Travisí first album, Good Feeling, included All I Want to Do is Rock Ė still a great anthem Ė and Tied to the 90s. Tied to the 90s they arenít, theyíre more tied to being Travis and thank the heavens theyíve maintained their strengths through the new millennium. The Invisible Band and 12 Memories are brilliant albums as well Ė though perhaps 12 Memories had its detractors itís 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. Itís 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. Itís funny, I was talking about this to my nephew the other day Ė heís 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 Ė now itís 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 Ė 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 didnít 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: Thatís 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: Thatís 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 didnít know you knew me and you didnít know Neil knew me.
DP: Fran and I met just before you went for the audition for Glass Onion [Travisí former name] Ė
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: Thatís right, because Neil was working in the shoe shop and he said, weíve 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 weíre going to audition this singer whoís really good. And then I slowly put two and two together Ė itís 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 Ė five years later we got rid of the two brothers and Dougie came in. As soon as Dougie came in it became Ė it wasnít 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 Andyís fathers go back twenty years Ė without them realizing.
DP: Me and Andy didnít 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. Andyís 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 donít think itís any tougher than any other city. Every cityís got its Ė
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 havenít heard of that anywhere Ė
FH: In London.
DP: I donít know anyone in London that I personally know thatís been Ė maybe itís because London is a bigger city.
FH: Itís got a reputation that stems from the 60s. Places like Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield . . .theyíre all places that are traditionally working class and not particularly wealthy. Theyíre 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 shouldnít. There are aspects of it [Glasgow] that are tough but itís a great city.
DP: Itís a brilliant city.
FH: I think itís definitely becoming more civilized.
Q: I was impressed when you had those terrorists drive into the airport and people started beating them up.
FH: Thatís Glasgow. Thatís quite Glasgow. Thereís a website dedicated to one of those guys called johnsmeaton.com. Only in Glasgow would people actually run towards . . .
DP: Try to get a boot in. You come to Glasgow and youíre not going to get away with that. I like that attitude towards terrorism.
Fran Healy - Seattle 2007 - photo by Dagmar
Q: Fran, I read youíre 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 weíre going to Berlin. Itís closer to our mothers and the boyís grandmothers. New Yorkís just too far away.
Q: Howís being a dad changed you?
FH: It makes me want to work harder. I enjoy my job more. I feel more mature Ė 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, itís great. Itís a pleasure watching someone grow up and to be there for them and not judge them. Let them become who theyíre going to become. Obviously theyíre going to pick up traits of you and other people. Itís such a nice thing to see.
Q: Dougie do you know if youíre having a boy or a girl?
DP: No, Kel was quite keen to know. She wanted to know if she was having a boy Ė she said she wanted to know if sheís got wee balls. But then a friend of mine said, donít find out - itís 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, thatís 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 wouldnít move a muscle when he listened to music Ė for a year. For over a year he had no reaction to music. If he had a reaction it was to sit really still Ė almost in a trance. Now heís started to dance and I think heís started to sing. Anything melodic on the radio that comes on he goes, Paba. Iím Paba.
DP: Like Robbie Williams.
FH: Robbie Williams came on the radio and I was like, son Ė no! I was thinking last night actually about how when I grew up I didnít have any musical instruments around me and I gravitated towards them. To do music as a career itís a whole different ball game but just playing an instrument . . . if youíve always got them around you, you will gravitate towards them. When I was first gravitating towards them it was always this thing you couldnít 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 donít really know at the moment because weíve been away for months. In general I think heís great. I really like him. I met him once at a premiere of one of my wifeís films and I thought he was fantastic. I thought he was the exact opposite of the way heís portrayed in the British media. Heís portrayed as very dour and very serious and not particularly charming. He is incredibly charismatic, very intelligent, really charming and a really nice guy. Heís got a lovely way about him. During the Blair years Ė which were full of optimism and playing with the media and all that I feel like thereís a grown up in charge again rather than a celebrity. I donít 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.